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  • Michele Boutin

8 Causes of Cravings

We are day 9 into the New Year; How is it going? It may be a good time to post something about cravings because we often think of cravings as bad or that we are weak and lack willpower, and since many of us make weight loss a resolution, perhaps you are finding that you are butting heads with your cravings.

Butting heads with cravings?

Below is my take away from my experience at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in regard to the various reasons why we crave:

The body is amazing. It knows when to go to sleep, wake up, go to the bathroom, maintain 98.6 degrees, and tighten the eyes when the light gets bright. It knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. Your heart never misses a beat. Your lungs are always breathing. The body is a super-computer, and it never makes mistakes.
Look at the foods, deficits and behaviors in your life that are the underlying causes of your cravings. Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance. When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why?

Eight primary causes of cravings are:

1. Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration, which occurs as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a strange craving is drink a full glass of water. Also, an excess of water can bring on a craving so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.

2. Lack of primary food. Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little, or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, or uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food.

3. Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.

4. Inside coming out. Oftentimes, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.

5. Seasonal. Often the body craves foods that balance out the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts. During winter many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil, and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog, or sweets, etc.

6. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy like caffeine.

7. Hormonal. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause strange cravings.

8. De-evolution. When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.


My Healthier Version of Hot Chocolate:

Craving hot chocolate? Nothing wrong with that! Perhaps, as mentioned in #4, that it was a drink of comfort from childhood, and/or #5 being a connection to the winter season. To have a healthier version of hot chocolate, there are several ways to go about this – first, the chocolate drinks that come out of those machines at convenient stores are usually loaded with funky fats, weird sugars, wacky processed soy, gluten, and powered, poor quality dairy. Buying the chocolate drink mix sold in packets or in a can? Read the label; you want to avoid the above mentioned if you want to shoot for a healthier version.

Here are several options using:

Raw organic 100% cacao – this is the purest of the pure!

At least 80% organic cacao w/out gluten, sketchy processed soy, corn syrup and dairy – can be a solid bar or powder like the Equal Exchange or Fair Trade brands of cacao mixes.

The uber healthly vegan, delicious & high protein Juice Plus+ Chocoate Complete as your base mix!

If you drink milk, make it whole organic free of not only pesticides, but also free of growth hormones and antibiotics (raw or pasteurized – your choice)

If you are dairy free, I have found that organic whole coconut milk, hemp milk, and oat milk yield a really creamy drink! You can also search other non-dairy milks to use instead or use a combination of the non-dairy milks; just read the labels!

To sweeten, try – raw honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, sucanat… natural!

Add a pinch of non-processed salt, like pink, mineral rich, Himalayan to balance flavors and add minerals.

Gently heat the amount of cacao/chocolate/complete you like into 6oz to 8oz milk of choice, add sweetener as desired, sip, and enjoy!

Cheers, Chele

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