Why we have cravings and how to prevent them
Trying to kick that elevenses sweet treat habit you've picked up? Same. Here's how to stop cravings without giving in.
I think it’s fair to say that we all began some bad habits during lockdown. Mine has definitely been the elevenses sweet treat. There’s a coffee shop around the corner from me (Urban Grind in Galway City) that does the best cinnamon buns. I know by now (thanks to rigorous and consistent research on my part) that they come out of the oven about 10.30 am every morning and right about that time, I get a pang for something sweet.
However, while they’re a delicious treat, I don’t really want it to become a daily occurrence. Maybe it’s time we looked at cravings from a different perspective though. Cravings might seem like a nuisance, but they’re actually a useful tool, both in terms of what your body needs and how you feel. My sweet tooth might be less about needing a sugar fix and more about boredom or a need to add some variety to my day after a morning at my desk.
“It’s important to understand why you crave what you crave,” says personal trainer Kaman Ryan. “Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring or stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message: a craving. A craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, more water or more love in your life. The key to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.
“No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of your body and its needs can tell you. Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential. It takes communication, love and time to cultivate a relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance. The next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness.”
Kaman’s 5 Tips to Preventing Cravings:
- Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
- Get up and take a walk. If you’re in an office or home office setting, try to get up and stretch your legs, and take a lap around the room or a walk outside for a few minutes.
- Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit or sweet root vegetables to satisfy that craving.
- Ask what is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
- When you do eat the food you are craving, enjoy it, taste it, savour it; notice its effect. Then you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.
Photography by Otto Norin on Unsplash.