Often people embark on creating a healthier lifestyle only to become stymied by cravings for foods deemed “unhealthy.” They struggle with cravings until they relent only to be plagued by guilt over the inability to hold out against their desires. However, the guilt and sense of failure are more detrimental to their new lifestyle than any craving.
Cravings communicate our needs
We have been conditioned to ignore the signals from the body indicating what we need to thrive. What we fail to consider is the body is infinitely intelligent and powerful. Cravings are the body’s attempt to create balance. Every system in our body is designed to keep us in balance so we can thrive and grow. Just as the respiratory system will force us to breathe if we hold our breath, the body is constantly striving to create balance within itself in order to flourish.
Our digestive system is impressive in its wisdom for nourishing our bodies. There are more nerve endings in the digestive system than in the entire spinal column. These nerve endings are constantly evaluating the condition of our body, determining what it needs and sending signals to us to improve our functioning. Our conscious mind then interprets the signals. This is often when we begin resisting because the cravings violate what we have been told is healthy for us.
The value in the craving
What is more beneficial to our system is deconstructing cravings to understand what it represents in our lives. Do we need more sweetness and love? Are we choosing crunchy foods because we are harboring anger and need to bite down? Is salt signaling our bodies to consume more water? Are we lacking nutrients the body needs to grow?
At one point in my life I led a strict vegetarian diet. Most often I was satisfied by my food choices. For a period of time I could not see a commercial for a specific fast food burger or drive by the same restaurant without craving a cheeseburger. This completely went against my beliefs and values. However I could not deny the mouth-watering effects of thinking about a cheeseburger. When I started to understand the causes of cravings I knew my body was signaling me to get more protein into my diet. Once this became clear to me I was able to satisfy my craving through a healthier option than a fast food burger. My craving disappeared.
Cravings signal our body to provide what it needs. Sometimes these nutrients can be obtained by food. Often they come from a more emotional need requiring external nourishment in the form of self-care and love. In our high stress times, we forget that we are not designed to maintain a fast paced life going from the stressful workplace to complicated home dynamics. Frequently doing it on little sleep and with foods lacking in real nourishment. The result is we end up constantly giving of ourselves rather than to ourselves.
The body’s infinite intelligence
The body, mind, and spirit work synchronistically to create harmony within our being. When the signals are ignored by our conscious mind our body tries to be creative and starts craving the foods we enjoy to satisfy itself. If we continue to ignore these signals then illness develops. Illness is merely the body’s attempt to bring attention to an imbalance in our lives. Our culture is rampant with diseases directly related to lifestyle. More than 75% of health care costs today are for treating chronic diseases caused by unhealthy choices.
We can set all the goals we like in an effort to obtain the “perfect” life. Until we begin to understand how to nourish our bodies mentally, physically and emotionally, we will be unsuccessful in our attempts to power through the desires of our bodies, which indicate what we truly need.
Today rather than using your willpower and stamina to fight the cravings, try to recognize what your body is asking for. Question where you might be out of balance in your life. Are you eating enough variety? Is there something creating stress in your life you are not attending to? Is your body depleted on any level that could be causing you to crave something? Are you drinking enough water?
Cravings are intelligent messages from your body. What is your body trying to tell you?