I’d like to offer a physiological perspective on cravings and how to work with them. Cravings are a way our body communicates with us. They are a way we seek balance and align with nature. For example, warm, dry weather makes us thirsty.
There are two main types of cravings.
1) Intense cravings. Unsatisfied intense cravings tend to disappear. These cravings often signify that we are eliminating that type of food from our body and we intensely crave it as it leaves. The best thing to do with these cravings is to take attention away from them and place our focus elsewhere. These cravings usually disappear quickly. If it is something our body needs, these cravings will persist.
2) The other type of craving is that of a persistent or recurring craving, usually caused by an actual need. These are more complicated and try handling them in the following way.
-You like chocolate, but you decide you don’t want to eat it anymore and so you cut it out.
-Then, you crave chocolate.
-Take a moment to consider what it is about the chocolate that you crave.
-Chocolate is essentially concentrated fats and sweets.
-You may just be craving more high-quality rich and sweet food in your diet.
-Or your diet may be too simple.
During a chocolate craving, try substituting walnuts and raisins or make a dessert with tahini or a nut-butter and natural sweeteners. They will probably satisfy the craving and are healthier choices.
The best way to handle consistent cravings is to break the specific craving down into its components (taste and consistency) and then make a choice with healthier options.
Two Dynamics of Cravings
1) Yin Yang. Sweet cravings (yin cravings), for many, are a result of eating too much animal foods, cheese, baked or toasted and salty foods (yang foods). Reducing or eliminating heavy yang foods will diminish much of the sweet craving.
2) Crunchy foods create cravings for more crunchy foods. Sweets create cravings for sweets, caffeine for caffeine. Imbalances perpetuate themselves and it seems difficult recognizing this pattern. Fortunately though, balances also perpetuate themselves. Moving towards balance is the most effective way to overcome cravings.
Some Substitutions for Common Cravings
-Add a healthy, crunchy food, such as blanched vegetables or carrot sticks
2) Poor-Quality Sweets
-Add more grain and vegetable, quality sweets such as corn on the cob (naturally sweet) or cooked onions, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes (which become sweet with cooking). Pureed, sweet vegetable soups are even more satisfying. Rice syrup and barley malt are more natural sweeteners.
3) Fatty Foods
-Use high-quality, unrefined sesame and olive oil (coconut oil is better suited for a tropical climate) in cooking and salads
4) Animal Proteins
-Tofu, tempeh or seitan and other plant-based protein, matching the consistency and taste of the particular craving. For example, tempeh often satisfies chicken and cheese cravings.
A baby begins to make demands and choices from the very beginning. Many women know they’re pregnant just from cravings. Babies first choose from the mother’s blood. If it is not present in her blood, they seek it out in her constitution (teeth, hair, bones). If what the baby seeks is not there either, babies call for take-out, which is a pregnancy craving.
My entire approach is not on avoiding cravings, but to help create a healthy, natural pattern of balance.