Choosing cookies over carrots does not mean that you lack all willpower. Cravings are powerful and it is normal (and frustrating!) to feel as though you don’t have much control over them. When we crave foods, it is our body’s way of telling us that something is off – feeling out of balance. After indulging in cravings, one often feels a sense of shame, guilt or physical discomfort. Craving foods does not mean that you will never reach your health goals or lose weight. It is simply an efficient way in which our body communicates with us.
Our body works hard to provide a steady, internal balance. Our breathing is automatic, and our body temperature is regulated at a constant 98.6 degrees. When our body is off balance, we know it. We receive signals to know when it’s time to rest, drink fluids and take care of ourselves. Similarly, we will crave foods based on what we need. Craving sugar could mean a need for energy or a need for hydration. Cravings for salt (which contains trace minerals) can indicate a mineral depletion. Understanding what our body is trying to tell us is key.
Food is a powerful agent, and with respect to cravings, indulging can temporarily make us feel good. Some foods trigger hormonal responses in the body which literally make us feel happy. In fact, some foods, like sugar, act on the same receptors in the brain as drugs and alcohol do!Research has shown that intermittent bingeing on sugar actually increases the levels dopamine in the brain and mimics the release of dopamine released in drug abusers. However that feeling is not long lasting. Becoming in touch with our bodies and more aware of our body’s brilliant way of communicating with us is one of the first, most powerful steps in beginning a journey with health.