Sometimes, it feels like I don’t follow my heart or my head, but I follow my cravings. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to eat when I am not eating, and finally eating something I have been craving for weeks or days can give me the biggest rush. Few things rank as high on the pleasure scale for me.
My husband, Jonathan, was quite surprised when he realised just how specific my cravings could get. I don’t just crave chocolate, I long for dark chocolate with roasted hazelnuts or a cupcake with a chocolate and hazelnut spread. Luckily, I can usually satisfy my craving in a healthy way.
I guess you can say I am a woman who knows what she wants. I want dessert, I want a healthy body, and I still want to look good.
If you are going to manage your cravings, you need to know what causes them. Here are a few interesting factors that can lead to cravings:
Not Consuming Enough Calories
If you do not consume enough food and your body is in a calorie deficit, it can trigger hunger and cravings. If you eat fewer calories than your body needs to perform its basic functions, then you are asking for a craving attack. Make sure that you still eat enough if you want to prevent this from happening to you.
Nutrient deficiencies can also trigger cravings, so you also want to make sure you eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
A Boring Diet Will Trigger Cravings
Obviously, it makes sense that if you restrict your diet to boring foods and then also eat the same meals over and over again, probably denying yourself any dessert, the cravings will strike with a vengeance.
Most people only last on a diet for a few days, but that is what healthy dessert options are for – teaching you how to indulge while reaching your goals. Once you realise that you can indulge with foods that are good for you (like dark chocolate), I am sure you will decide to throw away the boring diet.
Cravings Could Be from Withdrawal
If you are used to eating a lot of addictive foods like sugar and processed foods, and you cut them out, there will probably be a withdrawal period. You might experience physical withdrawal symptoms, especially when cutting out sugar, for a few days or weeks. If you push through, the symptoms will subside. Perhaps you want to cut them out slowly if you really have a problem and cut your intake of these foods by half and adjust before reducing your intake even further.
Memories Can Trigger Cravings
When we were younger, just after my biological dad left, my mom did not have a lot of money, so our version of a special outing was going to McDonald’s, buying Oreo McFlurries, and then my mom, my sister, and I would go to the park to enjoy them. So, when I see a McDonald’s, even though I follow a low-sugar diet, and have been doing so for years, I still crave an Oreo McFlurry.
Not all memories have to be relived though. Memories are precious, but they can also just remain precious memories. I can relive the memory of eating my aunt’s pumpkin pie by making one myself and serving it a dinner party or when we go to her house for a family gathering and she makes it (although I might only have a small portion then because when she makes it, she uses sugar and not a low-sugar alternative as I do).
PMS Cravings Are an Unnecessary Fact of Life
Hormonal changes can also cause cravings. When I have PMS, my body throws a lot of craving tantrums. I also refer to my cravings at this time as the period munchies. As soon as I feel the dark cloud hovering over my head, my body starts bloating, and the tears start coming, I know that I need to get the emergency desserts ready.
When I do the math, eating a dessert that contains about 300 calories and a small savoury meal that is also around 300 calories does not seem as rewarding or make as much sense to me as using all 600 calories for dessert.
I do balance out calorie-dense desserts with low-calorie ones, just so that I can eat more. Because if I only went for high-calorie treats, I could quickly eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one meal. I don’t need the sugar or gluten; I just need something sweet.
I have found great freedom in making peace with my cravings and understand that they are a normal part of life for many people. Fortunately, you can satisfy your cravings with healthy desserts and healthier versions of your top comfort foods.
What foods do you crave most often? Can you satisfy your craving while still improving your health?