Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt an undeniable, unavoidable craving. That insatiable feeling you get around that time of the month, after a really hard workout, or at some random moment in the middle of the day.
Maybe it strikes around 3pm, after dinner, or right before bed.
Whatever the time of day, you head to the kitchen, feeling bad and guilty about your craving for a sweet treat or salty carbs. You try avoid and repress the craving for as long as possible and maybe eat your way around it opting for a ‘healthier’ options like a banana and peanut butter, some berries, or carrots and hummus. But there it is that craving…still there…lurking and nagging at your insides.
So you finally give in and of course you can’t just have one, right? You’ve gotta have them all.
You eat, and you feel bad about it. The results: a bunch of self trash-talking and repeating the cycle all over again.
You’re certainly not alone. I’ve been there before, and I know so many other women who have too. If not in this exact scenario, in a similar one.
Women, men, and children of all shapes and sizes have been indulging joyfully and mindfully for hundreds of years. So why do we have such a hard time letting ourselves intuitively satisfy our cravings and being okay with it?
Our societal context has shifted in a major way. We’re more connected and influenced than ever. What we consume, consumes us in every aspect of our life. This feels incredibly prevalent when thinking about social media. We’re constantly — consciously and subconsciously — consuming content that are seemingly a reflection of other people’s lives. These images, videos, and words create a label or definition of what’s good and bad. While these digital platforms are incredible for accessing new information and self-education, they have a big impact on our emotions and approach to life.
While there’s nothing wrong with this conversation or information (and it can be definitely empowering), it can also lead to what I refer to as the comparison curse and perfection paradox. The outcome is the creation of limiting beliefs which hold us back from reaching our full potential and living more mindfully. We get stuck in this cycle, overthinking our choices to the point of anxiety, eliminating any sense of enjoyment from fulfilling a simple craving.
Craving has come to feel like such a dirty word instead of a celebrated fulfillment of desire. It’s usually used referring to foods that are labeled as bad. But what if I told you that it’s okay to have cravings? That desires should be fulfilled and celebrated — whether food or something else?
For me, when I have a “craving,” it’s usually my body sending me a message or signal that my craving is actually a deeper desire or something that I need to cultivate more of in my life. Perhaps, I want more love, sex, work fulfillment, money.
These desires usually can’t be fulfilled by what my brain thinks it’s craving.
But then of course there are times when I really desire a piece of chocolate, pizza, ice cream, wine, etc., and I enjoy it. By giving myself permission to have these things when I truly want them, I am able to enjoy with pure pleasure and satisfaction.
Ditch the guilt! How to indulge your cravings with pure pleasure:
Eat Joyfully & Mindfully
Eating and food have been the epicenter of cultures around the globe for thousands of years. Enjoying meals not only fuels your mind, body, and soul, but it’s a time to come together with others for breaking bread and amazing conversation. We move so quickly through life and our meals, leaving little time for enjoyment. When we can barely remember what we ate, we’re more likely to reach for something else.
Simple ways to start doing this are: eating with others, eating slowly and chew, chew, chewing, recognizing the flavors, removing distractions, and expressing gratitude for your meal.
When you do this you’ll realize that you can have a bite or two of chocolate cake with ease, zero regrets, and satisfaction.
Understand Your Cravings
What Are You Hungry For?: This book by Deepak Chopra is an amazing way to learn to answer that question. Yes, maybe you’re really hungry for something sugary and salty and that’s cool, but is there something happening on a deeper level? Are you sad, angry, frustrated, stressed, avoiding something… or just bored? Try talking it out, and if you’ve still got a hankering, go for it, girl!
Trust & Forgive Yourself
By understanding your cravings and tuning in with yourself, you’ll start to develop a sense of intuition about your body. Listen carefully to what she has to say, even when she whispers. The clues she gives you will help you trust what you need in each moment. If you feel like you “messed up,” forgive yourself. It’s okay, just take different actions next time. By forgiving yourself and allowing your body to listen you’ll find that certain cravings will dissipate naturally.
Stay In Your Own Lane
Comparison is hard, yet unavoidable. This is something that’s been really difficult for me. I spend a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram comparing myself and my life to others. This is really dangerous for my mindset, and it isn’t realistic. I always like to say “objects on the screen are less real than they seem.”
The truth is, I am not like anyone else. I am an individual with my own goals, wants, needs, and desires. My body is different than yours. My upbringing was different than yours. What I enjoy doing is different than you. The list goes on and on.
Comparing myself to people in different situations than myself is counterproductive to achieving my own goals. I’ve found it easier to stay in my own lane since I’ve learned to trust my intuition and listen to the positive voices inside my head. There are still days when the negative voices impact me. I cognitively recognize them, accept them, and move on with kindness and forgiveness.
Food Mindset: Fuel, Survival, and Enjoyment
Food is fuel and can truly change everything. When we feed ourselves well, we’re fueling our mind, body, and spirit. Food can even affect our mood! Instead of thinking of your fuel as healthy food vs. unhealthy food, try to think of it in terms of nutrient quality to help you perform and feel like your best self.
I like to think of filling up my car with really high quality gasoline so that I can have a safe journey through life. Fueling with these foods helps to “crowd out” the foods that don’t help your body perform optimally. This mindset helps me make (mostly) positive choices for myself, and after doing this for awhile I actually started to crave greens, whole grains, and healthy proteins the majority of the time. You’ll develop more intuition for your cravings and desires and will reach for them only when you truly want them.
But realistically, food is more than just fuel and survival. There’s a great section on National Geographic called The Joy of Food, and when I read this I fell even more in love with food and culture. For a long time I felt guilty about my passion for food because there are so many weird emotions, both internally and externally, around eating. But this reminded me of my why I love it so much, and also opened up my eyes to the culture of food in our modern society.
I know food society and cravings can feel hard emotionally, psychologically, and physically, but when you’re able to understand your cravings and indulge with satisfaction and joy, you’ll find yourself more at peace with yourself and life.