Updated: Jul 6, 2020
When you think about it, a craving is just a habit. My cravings are different from your cravings. I practice my own cravings, and after awhile, it becomes automatic for me to have a deep longing for buttery caramel sauce when I am irritated or when it is my birthday or when it is sunny outside.
Where do cravings come from? That’s a complicated question, but it essentially boils down to this: what we feel, what we think, and what we do create our cravings.
For instance, if I feel that work is stressing me out and the chicken isn’t quite thawed enough for dinner tonight and my children are walking on thin ice because they have forgotten to pick up their dirty clothes from the bathroom again and I freaking do everything around this house and crap, I still haven’t had time for my workout today which I could have totally done if I weren’t picking up after everyone else, then my feelings are already priming me for a craving.
This leads to my thoughts. I begin to really think that I am deserving of a treat because I am wound up tight and also deprived, and my brain begins to tell me that a few spoonfuls of Rosemary’s Caramel Sauce would make me happy, since dinner will be late again anyway. My brain tell me that I just cannot make it another minute without that hit of rich, vaniila-y treat. Just a few bites, of course.
Since my thoughts are so pervasive, I am driven into action. My action is to remove that jar from the refrigerator and scoop out a bite. Or three.
Accumulated actions will drive results. Do you see this? Let’s say that you want a different result than you are getting right now. For me, maybe I want to reframe my thinking to practicing gratefulness. I have four beautiful children that I get the privilege to mother and train and care for. I have a strong and godly man who leads our family well. I have a house to clean up and cook in, for the love. Grumbling is a waste of time and never gets anyone anywhere. If I don’t want to turn into a bitter old hag, I can start to reframe my thoughts, even though my feelings tell me otherwise.
Do I want to fit into my normal jeans every day? If my accumulated actions consist of diving into the caramel sauce every time I feel justified to do so, I can kiss those jeans goodbye.
And my results are not going to be what I want. My body will not be strong and fit and infection resistant. My mind won’t be resilient and balanced and focused.
If I recognize that I cannot change my feelings- who can?- then I can let the feelings come but start to retrain my mind. If you are in Christ, you know that we are commanded to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor 10:5). How? By putting on the full Armor of God (Eph. 6:17), especially the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. If you train yourself to fight back against lies with Truth, you can begin to reframe your thoughts, even though your feelings may tell you to dive into the dessert sauce. Practice teaching yourself and memorizing Scripture so you have it to repeat back to yourself when you feel weak.
Let’s say you are not a Christian. You can still reframe your thoughts. When a feeling comes up like anxiety or worry or anger or loneliness, you can recognize it for what it is and begin to put into practice actions that produce different results.
If you are lonely and sad, you can train yourself to take a bath while listening to a good book. If you are angry and hot, you can train yourself to jump on a mini trampoline while listening to Eminem and anger-rapping at the top of your lungs or something like that. If you are anxious, you can train yourself to take the dog out for a 15 minute walk to get your Vitamin D and fresh air and clearer mind.
When your actions are consistently different, you produce different results. And most of us are after different results.
My clients want to sleep better, to get Hashimoto’s antibodies down, to reduce anxiety, to lose weight, to stop losing hair, and to restore their libido. And more. And this principle is something I teach them to work on all of these things.
Feelings drive thoughts, which drive actions, which produce results.
Sometimes those results are the results we want, and sometimes they are not. But if you want different results, then you should start by looking upstream. At your thoughts. And then your actions. Follow me?
You can apply this to sleep:
I feel so tired and hopeless. I cannot fall asleep and stay asleep.
Old Thought: I can only fall asleep when I watch TV.
Old Action: I will just stay up watching TV until I pass out at 3 am while I eat cereal.
Old Result: I am a living zombie come 6 am and my anxiety increases every day.
New Thought: I know that my body needs sleep and is designed to get sleep every night.
New Action: I will balance my blood sugar during the day, walk 60 minutes outside this afternoon, eat a protein-rich, low sugar, calorie dense dinner, take an Epsom salt bath an hour before bed, read a great book for 30 minutes, have intimate time with my husband, and go to bed before 10 pm. I will get ahold of Jennifer to get my cortisol and melatonin tested to see if I need to adjust my hormones.
New Result: I start sleeping more normally.
You can apply this to anything. If you have health goals, you will probably have to change your behavior (actions) to change your health (results). This may look like eating more protein. Or vegetables and fruit. And maybe drinking less alcohol. It may look like taking more baths, or walking more, or running less. It may be slightly uncomfortable. If you want different results, you may need to take different actions.
If you want to stop cravings, you will probably need to act a bit differently. Training yourself into different habits takes time and practice, but you can do it.
Here are some shortcuts to arrest cravings.
My shortcuts involve adding things, not taking them away. You should not feel deprived. Deprivation leads to bingeing and other unhealthy behaviors.
1. If you crave food in general you need more calories.
Did you know that the World Health Organization sets the calorie limit for emergency food supplies worldwide at 2500 calories a day for women and 2800 calories a day for men? Really?! Really.
Did you know that the WHO considers 2100 calories a day to be starvation level? At the 2100 calorie point, they see a reduction in health.
Please raise your hand if you are a woman and try to eat under 2500 calories a day.
And look around. What good is that doing us? Women are irritable, food-obsessed, exhausted, sick, losing hair and libido, and infertile.
2100- 2500 calories a day, ladies.
My favorite New Zealander is adamant about this number. Working with scores of women on their hormones, she insists that women function best at around 2100 calories a day.
It is time to stop being scared of food. If you are consistently eating less than 2500 calories a day and are relatively active and you are still gaining weight, you need to take a close look at your hormones. You should not be gaining weight if you are eating around 2100 calories a day and you move your body. Has chronic dieting lowered your metabolism? Jacked your thyroid? Destroyed your adrenals?
Furthermore, what is this teaching our daughters?
Eat. The. Food.
Maybe you are crave-y because you are hungry. The simplest answer is usually the correct answer. Even if it is improbably. Even if it is counter cultural.
2. If you crave sugar, you need protein.
Thirty grams of protein per meal. No joke. If you cannot digest protein, your body is trying to tell you something. If you have poor gallbladder or liver function, your body is trying to tell you something. If you crave sugar, your body is trying to tell you something. Like, you need protein.
Especially us ladies. Why is it that we will cut out calories from healthy foods like meat and fruit, thinking that these are going to make us fat, but we will still drink wine and cocktails and then eat cereal and chips? Women need 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, or a serving of meat about the size of your palm. If sugar cravings are always on your mind, then you simply need to eat more protein. Please, for the love, do not skip meals. Even if intermittent fasting is a popular hashtag on Instagram. You need protein. Regularly. Thirty grams of protein equate 2.5 grams of leucine, which your body needs to create and keep muscle.
3. If you crave chocolate, you need magnesium.
Women don’t get enough magnesium. We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and the miracle mineral magnesium gets dumped from the body during times of stress and also exercise. And we stress and we exercise and we wonder why we cannot sleep and why we sneak so much chocolate and why we are so tense all of the time.
Chocolate cravings are a distinct cry for magnesium, which will settle and calm the nervous system, the muscles, the digestive system, and the brain. Eat plenty of fresh produce and also take 400-800 mg of magnesium each night.
4. If you crave alcohol, you need B vitamins and glutamine.
If your nightly craving for alcohol becomes more than just that sounds nice to I need a drink, dammit, then you are deficient in B vitamins and you could probably use some glutamine.
Take a good quality multi-B complex twice a day.
Take 1 capsule of glutamine, under the tongue, any time you have a craving for alcohol.
Will you practice some of these things? What do you think? Let me know.
To your health,
To your health,