Food and the nutrients you eat have a direct and real impact on your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. There is no debating this! Food affects every single cell in your body. Yet despite all the evidence supporting this, so many people are still struggling every day to make consistent, healthy, nutritious choices that will help them achieve more energy, stamina, focus and overall optimal health and wellness.
Why is this so? There are so many reasons including but not limited to a lack of accurate, relevant knowledge – there is a lot of misinformation out there, trying to adopt a one size fits all approach – we’re all genetically unique and as such have unique nutritional needs. Motivation is an issue, so is lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances and nutrient deficiencies – the list goes on. But what I want to focus on today is something we probably all struggle with from time to time and that’s food cravings. However, I’m also going to explore this from a different angle and look at the emotional messages within those cravings.
It’s not a coincidence that this week also happens to be Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Canada and I really wanted to make sure that this week in particular I contributed to opening up the conversation on this topic. Those of you that know my story know that this was something I struggled with for many years growing up and is a topic that is very close to me. I absolutely understand many of the challenges, struggles, pain and frustration!
So today, let’s gain a different understanding about food cravings – not so much from the physiological perspective but rather the spiritual and emotional perspective. I know that personally this was a huge factor in my recovery and I hope this information will serve you and maybe allow you to look at this challenge from a different and more holistic perspective.
What are your food cravings telling you?
Well it could be a number of things. They could be telling you that you have a nutrient deficiency, a sensitivity or allergy to something or even a hormonal imbalance.
But they are also like messages, each a symbol of a possible deeper issue. Ignoring these messages is not the solution. In fact, the more you try and ignore them, the stronger they become. So what exactly are some of those hidden messages? Molly Sante, NHD, PHD, Holistic Therapist and Medical Intuitive, and one of the most gifted people I know has some incredible insights on cravings and the messages they have for us. In her book, Spiritual and Holistic Weight Loss she shares some common food cravings and what she believes are their correlating emotional messages and significance.
Here is her list of the foods we most commonly crave and the emotions and messages tied to them. How many of these resonate with you?
|If you crave…||You may be feeling…|
|Alcohol/Wine||Need to escape|
|Caffeine||You feel you have to conform to the standards of others; you feel you have to be perfect.|
|Carbohydrates/Starches||You are depleted; you feel like people around you are draining you.|
|Cheese||Fear/belief that you cannot have what you want no matter how hard you try.|
|Chocolate||You are trapped or you don’t like yourself; resentment tat you aren’t getting the pleasure from life that you feel you deserve.|
|Creamy Food||Feeling like life shouldn’t be this hard; needing an easier way.|
|Crunchy Food||Finding an aspect of life difficult to process; confusion; desire for clarity.|
|Fried Food||Can’t stop doing; needing to accomplish in order to receive validation.|
|Ice-cream||Wanting love and protection; lacking parental love.|
|Meat||Feeling disempowered; feeling trapped; inability to take action.|
|Milk||Not feeling able to stand on your own feet or feeling like the burden is heavier than usual.|
|Pastries/Baked Goods||Not celebrating the self; not finding joy in the existing.|
|Peanut Butter||Needing to be held or feeling alone and insecure.|
|Soda Pop||Feeling like you are being suppressed or suffocated.|
|Sour Foods||Seeking cleansing; whether physical, emotional or spiritual; longing for purification.|
|Spices||Needing to penetrate the fog of life.|
|Sugar||There is no joy in your life or you depend on outside sources for joy.|
So what do you do with this information?
Know first and foremost that food cravings are not a sign that you lack discipline or are weak. It’s your body trying to tell you something. Maybe it’s something physical but maybe it’s an “emotional deficiency” that for too long as been suppressed, avoided or ignored. So if you crave something, go within, silence your mind and tap into your inner truth. Ask yourself what the craving truly represents to you. What are you really feeling or not feeling, what are you avoiding? Ignoring the situation, the pain, the frustration, the loneliness etc. will only amplify those feelings and likely trigger binging – which is really your higher self’s way of screaming at you to pay attention and address the underlying issue. You need to feel the feelings, acknowledge them and deal with. Easier said than done, I absolutely know that so get some support to work through those issues. Climb that mountain. It will be so worth it.
And then on the very common question of “should I eat what I am craving or not?”– tune in and ask yourself if it is in your highest good to do so. The answer will vary depending on the situation. Not every good craving is necessarily an issue. If it’s something random that happens from time to time and is not comprising your health, just pay attention to it and NOTICE what you are experiencing in that moment.
However, if your cravings are regular, if they lead to binge eating and you know the cravings and the foods you are eating as a result are detrimental to your health then it’s something you should definitely investigate further.
For example, if you are regularly tired and seeking carbohydrates for an energy boost, sugar is not necessarily what you need. A craving for sugar, according to Molly Sante is an indicator of depletion and feeling drained – so in this case, a nap for example would be a much healthier solution So would looking at your sleep habits, hydration and overall quality of your diet.
Other times we crave something for the perceived comfort that food will give us in that moment. That is when it is so important to identify what you are really feeling and then as uncomfortable as it may be, FEEL those emotions and work through them. Temporarily suppressing them with food is not a solution, won’t resolve the issues and you can be guaranteed they will surface again – probably deeper and stronger the longer you avoid them. If you need support in dealing with those emotions make sure to get it.
And sometimes you may just be craving something for the pure enjoyment of the food in that moment. It’s summer, it’s a scorcher of the day, you’re out with the kids – craving an ice-cream is not an unreasonable response… In that case ask yourself: “What is the pay-off and what is the price? It’s not a judgment but an opportunity to tap into and connect with your deepest intentions and emotions and then try and find the honest answer because that will ultimately help you unravel the frustrating matrix you are in. And if you do decide to “indulge”, do so with love knowing that you are being intentional about your choice. Enjoy what you are eating and ditch the guilt. Be mindful and savour the food, eat it in a conscious, slow and pleasurable way – really tasting it – the flavors, the aroma, the texture. And after that first bite stop again and ask yourself if you really need more.
So as with so many things in life, there is no single answer! Become aware of your patterns and cravings and determine it you believe they are compromising your health or not and then act accordingly.
I hope this helps and gives you a slightly different insight into what you may be struggling with. I know how challenging this can be but I also know you can learn to manage it.
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,