Cravings – What Do You Want?

Cravings.

What am I talking about? Well, when your body has a strong desire to eat something. You know when someone asks you or you ask yourself what you’d like to eat. It’s the first thing that comes to mind. It is what your body is legitimately asking you for. Everyone has had that experience at least once, if not every day of their life.

It starts off when we’re kids. Mom or dad asks “What do you want to eat?” Our answer: Pizza. Chicken Nuggets. Spaghetti. Mac and Cheese. Ketchup. Or who knows, maybe your kid is super fancy now a days and asks you for kale 😉 .

Having that gut instinct of knowing what you want is not surprising. In fact, it’s normal. What is surprising is how little we listen to it. Now, there’s a lot of us out there that are intuitive eaters without even thinking about it. I would argue, though, that most of us are no longer intuitively eating. Why? Because we either hear what our body is asking for and choose to not listen OR we are just completely disconnected from what our body is telling us. We are eating based on what we know, what we hear, or what we think we should eat.  This is completely different from when we were an infant or young child. As an infant we were born knowing [for the most part] when to eat, how much to eat, and when to stop. Remember those days? When food was just food and eating was just something we had to do in-between playing?  Oh how times have changed, right?

Intuitive Eating and Food Cravings

So what is intuitive eating and how does that fit in with food cravings? Intuitive eating is defined as “a flexible style of eating in which you largely follow your internal sensations of hunger and satiety to gauge when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop eating”.  [Side note: The term was created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. If you have not read their book, do it. It’ll completely change your life.]

Intuitive eating is eating what your body tells you to eat.  Sounds pretty simple right?

Are you doing it though?

Okay, so here’s the thing about cravings. We need to stop feeling bad or questioning why we are craving certain foods. Children and pregnant women should not be the only people who are “allowed” to have cravings. We never question a pregnant woman’s craving for something sweet or eating potatoes everyday or wanting pickles and ice-cream together, but we do question our own body’s ability to determine what it needs. Why is that? Why is it not seen as socially acceptable for everyone to be in tune with their own body’s needs? Just like that child or expecting mother, our body is also telling us what it needs. That signal is not reserved for brief specific, periods of our life. It is always there.

I’ll tell you this. I’m nowhere near a perfect intuitive eater. There is definitely no such thing. Intuitive eating is something you to choose to work on. It is a journey of re-learning your own body and coming back to your innate responses to hunger and fullness and different foods.  What intuitive eating has given me is the ability to allow myself to eat what I want and not feel guilty about it nor have to analyze it nor explain it to myself nor anyone else. I just eat.

I initially thought that if I allowed myself to eat what I wanted, I would only eat chips, cakes, cookies, ice-cream, etc. When in reality, it has been very different. The truth is my body really does crave all foods. Some days its tacos and some days its salads. Some days it salty mixed nuts and some days its sweets. I can honestly tell you, its been pretty fun and freeing to not force nor restrict any food or food group. I  trust that my body knows what it needs in each moment. It takes practice, patience, and trust. It is a process.

Also, something important to note about cravings is that they can and WILL be different on most days. Seriously, imagine how boring it would be if our cravings or desire of certain foods never changed …..or if we never allowed them to. I am also finding that the more I expose myself to new foods, the more diverse my cravings and wants are. It’s pretty fascinating.

There is a lot of freedom in eating what your body wants vs. eating what you don’t want and hoping it’ll satisfy your need for what you do want. Two very different things.

So ask yourself, what would your diet look like everyday if you allowed yourself to eat what you really wanted? What if you tried it for a week, or two? Wouldn’t it be nice to find out instead of being terrified by the idea of it for the rest of your life?

You might be pleasantly surprised.

I’d love to hear how it goes 🙂

From my belly to yours,

Happy Thursday !

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. dougsheridan says:

    The notion of intuitive eating is pretty interesting. In some ways, it makes me question my habit of trying to find categories of meals/restaurants that I like, and eat mostly from/at them regularly. For example, my go-to for breakfast is an egg-white omelet and a plate of assorted fruit. While I don’t crave either in the morning, after I eat I’m pretty darn satisfied (while getting a pretty nutritious and balanced meal, or so I believe). Is the advantage to varying your diet away from meals that might be healthy but never change?

    1. Lucia says:

      Hey Doug, thanks for sharing !

      In my opinion, intuitive eating comes in very handy in helping individuals get away from meticulously controlling or micromanaging their diet. I think it’s easy for some of us to fall into the trap of eating something because “we have to” even if we don’t truly enjoy what we’re eating or it doesn’t satisfy us. Intuitive eating is simply living a diet-free-life. It’s listening to your own body vs following a set of rules that was made up to fit all individuals.

      I think it’s pretty normal that you have a routine breakfast food. I would say most people do…just out of habit or convenience. Where I think it can become problematic is when we start lacking the ability to deviate or be flexible. Are you okay with eating something else for breakfast or does that seem to throw off your whole day?

      There is definitely not something wrong with your breakfast and it’s awesome that you found something that satisfies you that you also enjoy. However, I do also believe it is beneficial (even if just purely to get us out of routine) to change up what we eat and expose our bodies to different foods, flavors, textures, etc.

      It helps us be flexible eaters which is also a part of being “healthy” with food. 🙂

  2. dougsheridan says:

    I understand. While I used to get frustrated if I had to go off script for meals, once I realized that doing so typically never adds more than 200 or so calories to the meal, I stopped sweating it. Moreover, the news that our bodies and brains actually need some of the good fats/nutrients that can come with eating new things, the frustration has subsided further.

    1. Lucia says:

      That’s awesome! Trying new foods should not have to be something we stress over, more so something we look forward to.

  3. Matt Bench says:

    I’ve forced down meals that led me to feel amazing, and thoroughly enjoyed meals that I regretted. We’ve all had experiences where cravings led us a-stray. What say ye?

    1. Lucia says:

      Hey Matt!
      I could agree with that statement. I guess my follow up questions to you are …why did you “regret” the meal later AND why did you have to force down the other meal?
      Eating isn’t black and white. Nothing in life really is, yet somehow we get into the thought that it should be. Kind of like an “all or nothing” take on it. The thing with intuitive eating that I absolutely LOVE is that it is NOT perfect. We don’t ever master it. We’re constantly changing and learning about meals, what we like, what works for us, what doesn’t, how much food satisfies us, how much overfills us, how much doesn’t quite get the job done, etc.

      I think the bigger question here is ….should we be regretting a meal? I mean, I get what you’re saying AND what comes to mind is …okay, great that meal didn’t feel or go the way I would’ve liked it too…and I choose to move on with my life and my day. I don’t need to feel regret. It’s just food.
      And did your craving actually lead you astray or… there’s even the question of were you actually craving it or just really hungry? OR were you previously restricting that food and then when you craved it and allowed yourself to eat it ….you feel like you overate because it was just THAT good and you missed that food? What was your level of hunger before the meal? How fast did you eat? Etc, etc, etc
      haha this could go in so many different directions.

      It’s honestly like anything else in life. We’re constantly experimenting and learning from our experiences, food and meals included. So I would say that even if there is meal or day or experience that is somewhat “negative”, we learn something from that. Maybe it’s learning how a certain meal feels in our body afterwards or that in fact we didn’t have to “force” something down because we actually really did enjoy it. Who knows. I believe that it is beneficial to approach meal and food with curiosity, not judgement. More so like a “oh cool that happened, what did I learn about it and about my body and what it needs?”

  4. Matt again says:

    I like all of this! I guess to be able to have enough dignity to say wow that meal didn’t really serve me is helpful. Mindfulness during a period of “I am choosing to eat food that numbs me and sedates me” is what ultimately gets us out of that cycle of filling a void of pain. Make sense? Thank you

    1. Lucia says:

      Yes totally. Thanks for sharing:)

What are your thoughts?