Decoding and deciphering your cravings

Cravings. We all get them, whether salty or sweet, is our weakness, and it’s often difficult to know whether to act on them or not. There are many differing opinions about good versus bad cravings and learning when to give in and when to resist. 

But ultimately, whether you see cravings as temptations or a fun treat, the truth of it is that it’s your body’s way of sending you a message. A craving might be specific (i.e., I really want M&Ms right now) or an abstract one (i.e., “I just want something savory right now!). 

With these cravings, your body is trying to communicate with you. Decoding and deciphering your cravings, however, can help you communicate with your body better and separate the good cravings from the not-so-good ones.

Physical cravings and their meaning

Sometimes, your body uses a craving to give you a sign of what’s going on inside. For example, salty food cravings might mean that you’re dehydrated. Sweet food cravings usually occur after eating a bit too much or when you’re going low on energy. You can break it down further depending on the food, but essentially, there is a physical reason for the cravings. 

One of the best ways to deal with cravings in this context is to think before fulfilling the craving. If you want something salty, quickly check with yourself. Have you had enough water today? When was the last time you had a glass? If it’s been a while, try to hydrate before you opt for that snack.

Similarly, with sweet items, you’ll find the cravings may dissipate sooner if you stop to think about them a bit more. Are you craving dessert because you just had a large meal? Once your blood sugar levels regulate, the craving may not be as strong. Or if you’re low on energy and craving some sugar, alternatives such as nuts and seeds could serve as a better substitute.

And if the craving just won’t subside, give yourself a break. Opt for a smaller portion size instead of abstaining altogether. It’s easier to manage, and you’re likely to stay more disciplined this way.

Looking at your lifestyle 

The other larger factor to consider when decoding and deciphering cravings is looking at your overall lifestyle. There are many choices we make on a broader scale that could affect the length and intensity of cravings. 

For example, lack of sleep can cause weight and hormone imbalances, leading to more cravings. If you always want to snack, you may want to look at your sleep patterns to see if improving them can help curb some of the cravings.

Similarly, stress plays a huge role. We all know the dangers of stress, and it’s difficult not to succumb to it...but for the sake of your cravings, it might be time to take a step back and look at your stress levels. Stress and emotional eating are inextricably linked and can lead to weight gain down the line, so it’s essential to reduce stress as much as possible.

For women, in particular, PMS plays a role in cravings, too, due to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which help regular eating. It’s often hard not to give in...often causing more stress and perpetuating the cycle! 

When it comes to your lifestyle changes, it’s all about you. There are no quick fixes, but remember that even small steps can help you build better habits over time. The more you rewrite and retrain your brain to see cravings for what they are, the more in control you will feel. And for the days you just want to give in? Go for it. Don’t beat yourself up when you indulge yourself. It’s just a few days, and you’ll be fine. 

But if you’re worried that it may become a habit, you can work with nutrition coaches and dietitians to help you modify your diet and help you build a better understanding of your cravings. At ZentasticFit, our online nutritionists and dietitians are certified professionals, ready to help you with your cravings and food habits! Browse their profiles and get in touch with them to schedule your virtual nutritional consultations on your time, your terms.

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