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Thank you for listening to Wholebeing RN Radio! Join me for this episode talking about how to boost kick cravings to the curb and stop deprivation.
In this episode, we are talking about these Cravings talking points:
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- What are cravings?
- What causes cravings?
- What are 3 steps we can take to stop cravings? b7i
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Body Wisdom Waitlist
- 365 Days of Happiness by Jacqueline Pirtle
- 7 Day Spark
- Wellness Tribe
- Submit a Question for the Show
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How to deal with cravings?
We all have cravings. I do. I’m pretty sure even my dog does, maybe even my little chickens do to.. I think the difference in cravings now vs before intuitive eating is simply that I can identify them and differentiate them from hunger, and I know how to deal with them in a non-destructive non-diet culture way.
Today, we are going to dive in and find out what is a craving, what causes cravings, how to get rid of them, and how to get to the root of what is causing them so that ultimately we can stop them.
What is a craving?
It can be a really broad definition and is no doubt up for interpretation. For our purposes here, a craving is an intense hunger for a particular food. It can also be a sister of that, but we will discuss that in depth a little bit later. A craving is most often driven by an imbalance, an emotion, or an emptiness, sometimes referred to a lack of feeling whole.
What causes cravings?
Cravings can also be driven by a biological need for a particular nutrient. Kind of rare, but can be the case. Sometimes it is because of a biochemical change in the body, think hormonal changes or blood sugar changes. These types of cravings are not sex-specific either. Sometimes cravings are triggered by habits or situations, such as popcorn at the movies, or wings and football. An example of this might be that you go out on a date, eat a full dinner, and then order popcorn anyway habitually even if you aren’t physically hungry and maybe you eat it maybe you don’t. These are all possibilities for cravings, but did you know that most of the time a craving is driven by an emotion.
Most typically that emotion is stress, although as we know stress can come disguised as many different things like anger, sadness, exhaustion.
What happens when you are constantly bombarded with cravings?
Well, it can cause some issues because it is going against your body's innate wisdom. Now you may be thinking, “wait a minute...it’s a signal from my body” and yes it is but it is a signal not that you need whatever you are craving but there is something at the root of that craving that needs to be healed. So when you just give in and move on Every. Single. Time. you need up ignoring what your body is truly trying to tell you and THAT leads to a whole host of chronic health and wellness issues (like inflammation).
When that happens, the majority of people try to fix it restrictive diets, pills, patches, shakes, and other quick fixes. Often times this turn to restriction is so severe and so intense that it backfires. In fact, studies show that 90% of the time it backfires, and 66% of those times that it backfires, it is actually a boomerang effect. You initially give in to all of the cravings and then you go way out into a restrictive diet and lose some weight and then it all comes back to you even more weight than you lost and the cravings come back too.
The solution here is to kick diet culture to the curb with three very simple and sustainable steps.
3 Steps to Get Rid of Cravings
I know, you are surely scratching your head wondering “WTH is she telling me to give up?!?!” Well, here’s what I want you to give up: restrictive diets, diet culture, and killing yourself with cardio.
- Give up killer cardio. I have had clients come in and say, “I’ve been on the treadmill 45 minutes, twice a day for 10 days, you’d be so proud!” No! Stop that killer cardio, it's just not sustainable, and when you fall off the wagon, be it the killer cardio or the restrictive diet, you end up full of failure, guilt, and shame.
- Give up on the body wraps. Those are fun, but they aren’t really helpful.
- Give up on those silly shake programs.
- Give up counting carbs, calories, and points.
- Give up herba-plexa-level-thriving mess you are being sold.
Sidebar: Now having a shake for example, occasionally, because it is tasty or convenient, or nutritious (which most aren’t) is okay. Taking a supplement because you recognize that it has health benefits for your body and it's bioavailable, also okay. But diving into this entire, take this diet culture program because its good for you and you must adhere to the 1,200 calorie diet and killing yourself P90X style with cardio every day is not sustainable.
You may reach some arbitrary goal with these methods, but when and if you do, you essentially have 2 choices - you can continue down that path on into infinity, taking your shake program or magic pills or counting points, continuing the restrictive diet and fighting your body’s innate wisdom, urges, and needs. The other option is to gain it all back and start over. In fact, certain company’s are literally banking on that.
Again, all of these things I am asking you to give up on, these are Band-Aids, not solutions. And it doesn't matter which well-meaning family member or friend is trying to sell you on it. They're just not good solutions. They are diet-culture ridden, over restrictive, lead to stress, nutrient deficiencies, and cravings. So there is the first step, give up.
Step two is to seek out. Earlier I mentioned, cravings can be caused by emotional voids. When you find you are searching everywhere for that item that is sweet, or salty, or fatty. Stop for a moment. Take a breath.
A really big, deep, deep breath that fills your lungs. All the way to the bottom of your tummy. Right? Take a deep breath and ask, "Am I hungry? Am I physically hungry?"
How do you know when you're hungry? Well, hunger, physical hunger, a hunger that is for fuel is physical and it doesn't occur based on time. It doesn't happen because it's 12 noon or seven pm or 6:45 in the morning and it's time for breakfast. It doesn't happen because of social circumstance, because you walked into the break room at work and there happens to be a plate of cookies or because you walked by a pizza shop and you can smell the pizza, or because you watched Guy Fieri with some amazing stuff on TV. Maybe even what you are experiencing right now, all of these delicious descriptions might have you just mouth watering thinking of yummy things. But here’s the thing, that's not physical hunger.
Physical hunger isn't urgent. Physical hunger comes on gradually. Physical hunger isn't picky. It can be satisfied with any kind of food. Emotional hunger is a two-year-old. Have you had experience with a two-year-old? Sometimes you can fight it but sometimes you best just give in, more on that in a minute.
Physical hunger can be satisfied with any type of food. Physical hunger also allows you to stop eating when you're no longer hungry. Because it allows for satisfaction. Whereas not physical hunger is often associated with guilt and sometimes even shame. Physical hunger comes with physical signs like your stomach is growling. Your energy is draining. And again, spoiler alert. If you're craving a particular food, you quite likely aren't physically hungry.
By pausing and shifting with that breath into the present, you allow yourself just a moment just enough space to identify the cause. Be it stress, anxiety, fatigue, joy, sadness. And then you can find an appropriate solution for it. We are going to come back and spend a bit of time on this seek out aspect in the next episode. So that we can learn sustainable ways to seek out and resolve those issues at the root. But for now, focus on seeking out, figuring out what it is and then giving in, is probably your best course of action.
You may be thinking “why bother?” if we are just going to give in. But for now, you can start to recognize that patterns and triggers for your disordered eating and then use alternative methods to heal the issue.
The third step and I touched on it a bit already, is to give in. Yep, you heard that right. Give in to the craving if you are physically hungry. Just freaking give in. And sometimes if you're not physically hungry, it's okay just to give in. And so, you can give in with a little healthy treat. Or you can give in all together. So an example of a healthy treat might be if you're craving sweets, my favorite thing is a banana with some honey and cinnamon on it. It is shockingly sweet. And you're still eating good whole foods. So, if you're craving salty maybe have a salted vegetable. I'm really enjoying the salted roasted green beans. I think they have them at Sprouts. But they have them in a lot of places. That's a good salty veggie treat. Or some macadamia nuts. So, it would be an example of if you're craving fatty foods and you wanted to go ahead and give in to that craving.
Now, on the other hand, especially when you're new at this. It may feel more comfortable to give into that not so "healthy" foods. So, I'm giving you permission right now foods aren't to be demonized or praised arbitrarily because we are all really individual in our biological and nutritional needs. So have those cheese fries and just be fully present with it. Okay? Because when you're fully present while you're eating, you're not double fisting fries into your mouth while watching TV or scrolling through Facebook. You are taking one bite at a time. You are savoring the textures, the flavors, the smell. Being fully present allows you to know when you are hungry and in this instance (all instances really) it allows you to be present and know when you are satisfied, when you aren't full yet but still not hungry - that blissful stage of satisfaction where you can say "I'm done." It's called honoring your hunger and it is the very first principle in intuitive eating.
Understand that this is a really broad solution, and intentionally so, because there is no one size fits all and in this format, what I know about you is limited as to how disordered your eating is, what your diet-culture exposure has been, and your particular needs are.
And here's the thing. When you're fully present when you're giving in to a craving ... because people, I'm not asking you to never have cheese fries again. Or never have ice cream. In fact, I posted on social media that when I lost a significant amount of weight from November 2016to January 2017, I did it over the holidays. And I had pie and I had leftovers and I had treats. And I had cheese fries. And part of the way that I did that was by savoring each bite. And what you'll find is that very first bite is just as delicious as you freaking imagined it, right? It's bliss. And the second bite is also really good. Oh, yes, really good. Right? And the third bites pretty good too.
By then, you're really done. So, if you're sure and you check in about every three bites, especially if you're new at this, then you can really check in and feel and see if it's worth carrying on if you're still physically hungry.
Honoring Your Hunger
One of the biggest tips I can give you is to honor your hunger. Here is a strategy to check-in it's a 0-10 scale, and its a great thing to do when you take a breath and pause to see if you are physically hungry or not and help you determine your level of hunger.
O is the lower end of the scale, and its where you are out of fuel, you are so hungry, you have let it go too long, maybe even hAngry. You would eat the bottom of a shoe or the business end of a rhino. 10 at the opposite end, Thanksgiving stuffed and wishing you were in sweatpants. 5 is the very middle, you could eat or not eat at this point. You could call it the ultimate satisfaction point.
When I teach how to use this scale, I ask that you honor your body's hunger and that for most people physical hunger and needing to refuel is somewhere between a 3 and a 5. Because if you let it get much below a 3, you will likely eat so fast you will overfill and not be able to gauge your bodies satisfaction ques.
Then, and almost as tricky if not more, is stopping somewhere between a 6-8. If you get much past an 8, you are creeping into uncomfortably full. Reflux could happen, sleepy, uncomfortable in your skin.
This Hunger Scale is a really great visual for you to check in with your physical hunger.
In closing, the next episode we are going to talk about all of the ways that you can maximize Step 2, Seek Out, and figure out what you are actually hungry for if you don't need fuel.