“I actually crave salads now,” said my meat, cheese, and Taco Bell-loving boyfriend.
Just a few months earlier, I had to strongly encourage him to take more than one piece of broccoli at dinner. (One piece is not one serving, Alex!)
But after we talked more about healthy eating for health’s sake (and the fact that I don’t want him to keel over from heart disease at age 50) he committed to eating better, including salads for lunch and cutting back on grains and dairy.
So when he told me he actually craved salads now, I was partly shocked but it also partly confirmed a new idea I’ve had on cravings, and what they means and how to beat bad ones.
It’s pretty simple, really: You crave what you eat.
It’s well known that if you eat sugar on a regular basis, you crave it. And if you give it up for a few weeks, the cravings go away. That’s no big groundbreaking news to anyone.
But when it comes to other cravings, I believe that you only really crave what you eat (with a few caveats).
For instance, a few years ago I tried PB2, that powdered peanut butter you mix with water to create a lower fat version of peanut butter. I loved it. I started eating it everyday. It pretty much became my dinner most night; I craved it. And then I stopped eating it because I became concerned with aflatoxins in peanuts and wanted to see if I noticed anything but cutting out peanuts.
What did I notice?
My cravings for PB2 went away.
I had the same experience with popcorn.
I started eating it here and there, then on a more regular basis. And then every night because I craved it.
Then stopped eating it went I switched to a Paleo-ish diet. And I don’t crave it anymore.
Same goes for nachos. I craved those every weekend as my cheat-meal. Now, cravings are gone.
I went through a green bean phase too. Craved them every night, eating about a pound for dinner.
Now that I’m eating more meat and coconut oil, what do I crave? Meat and coconut oil.
But what about healthy foods? Can you actually crave salads?
Not if you don’t eat them. But once you do, and you do it consistently, you almost will certainly start craving them.
Any food you start eating on a regular basis you will create a craving for. Habits and consistency create cravings.
I’m not exactly sure why this is, but it does open up a whole new headspace on how to deal with and conquer cravings.
Once you realize that any craving WILL go away once you stop eating that food for a particular amount of time, it makes it so much easier to fight the craving. Knowing there is a light at the end of the craving tunnel is super powerful for combating unhealthy cravings and establishing healthy new cravings for veggies and other healthy foods.
I think the same goes for exercise and other habits as well, though I tend to only want to use the word “craving” in reference to foods.
Now on to that craving caveat– sometimes I get a craving for something I haven’t eaten in awhile, or a very specific craving for chocolate or salt.
I believe that if you listen to your body very closely, it will tell you want it needs.
For instance, I used to eat apples every day. Then, when I developed SIBO, I had to cut them out because they gave me terrible gas and bloating.
But the other day I came down with a cold- sore throat, runny nose and the worst migraine I’ve ever had.
And I the strongest craving for apples. Nothing else seemed appealing.
So even though I knew they weren’t the best choice for my digestion, I bought a four pack of organic apples and ate three of them that day.
And wouldn’t you know it, I digested them perfectly fine.
I truly believe that there was something in the apples that my body wanted to help fight that cold.
The next day I had one apple- the bloating and gas was back.
I also went through a phase where I craved sardines. I can’t recall exactly why I decided to try them, I think I was concerned with eating too much tuna at the time, but I wasn’t eating meat.
And I craved sardines, eating a can or two a day. And then after about a month, the craving went away on its own.
It wasn’t that I consciously stopped eating the sardines (like I did with the PB2 and popcorn), this was just my body saying “Ok, there was something in the sardines I needed. Now I’ve got enough, so we don’t need this food on a daily basis anymore.”
I have a suspicion it was the calcium and vitamin A my body wanted, but regardless, the body knows what it needs.
You just have to listen closely.