Have you ever been on your period, or you know your period will be coming soon, and suddenly you’re hit with the urge to eat something salty? Ice cream? Chinese food? No matter what your indulgence of choice is, some women find that when they’re likely to be PMSing, they suddenly get hit with all of these PMS cravings they feel they have to give in to.
What causes these cravings? And how do you curb your desire to eat foods you probably shouldn’t just because your body seems to be telling you to?
What Causes Cravings
A common myth associated with food cravings in general is that your body is telling you that you have a deficiency in some way and this deficiency is being projected through a food craving your body somehow remembers contains what it needs. Don’t mistake this as being wholly untrue in some areas – the catch is that this does in fact apply to situations.
For instance, you probably know you get jittery when you have low blood sugar, but that’s not what a craving is. When you get a craving, your body isn’t sending you some all-knowing signal that it’s going to shut down without ice cream.
One way to look at this myth logically is to think about the food people commonly crave: chocolate, ice cream, pickles, and types of food like Italian or Thai. None of these foods actually have a direct, necessary correlation to an important compound or nutrient you need. If you really need calcium, why does your brain float to ice cream and not milk or yogurt?
The reality is that cravings are dually created by both your brain’s chemistry and patterns of behavior. Think about the three R’s in relation to cravings: reminder, routine and reward. These are often why cravings are born into a person.
Similarly, these are the three main triggers that can actually initiate a craving:
- Social Triggers – This happens when you’re around someone, something or a situation that calls for eating or particularly eating a certain food. Examples including going out with friends so you need to grab lunch or going to a family dinner.
- Emotional Triggers – Many people find comfort in food, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s okay to enjoy food! But it still shouldn’t be your go-to emotional distress crutch. People eat because they’re bored, angry, frustrated or sad very often.
- Situational Triggers – This is when you eat because the moment seemingly dictates it, like how you HAVE to get popcorn at the movies or you HAVE to get a snack when you watch TV or work.
How to Keep Cravings at Bay
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness are two of the biggest ways to eliminate cravings as part of a long-term solution, but let’s face it – not everyone can commit to these methods or pay for them. Science has proven that even short-term methods for curbing cravings can work, so take these three techniques for a spin:
- Most food cravings are triggered by a memory and not just a situation. When you begin to crave a food, think about a vivid memory that has nothing to do with food, and make it a good one. Your brain is very bad at remembering more than one thing at once, and that’s a good thing in this scenario.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is hard to say but easy to do. Food is often linked with feelings, and to stop cravings you have to break that chain. When you feel a craving, move your eyes back and forth as rapidly as possible for 10-30 seconds while simultaneously thinking of the feeling you get when you eat food. The craving will melt away!
- It may not sound fun, but quick spontaneous exercise can be a great way to both stop cravings and get in a burst of cardio every day. This simultaneously helps push away the feeling of the craving and heightens important brain chemicals that do the same.
- And, last but not least, have you thought you might just be thirsty? Drink 1-2 glasses of water, and see how you feel after you have drunk them.
Do you need more support?
Part of my Radical Wellness mission is to help you interpret what your body’s telling you. When you tune in and listen, you fast track your ability to create, enjoy, and maintain Radical Wellness! If you’d like help on your journey, I’d love to support you. When you register today for a Radical Wellness Wakeup Call session, a 60 minutes deep dive with me, you will get an individualized action plan that will help you reach your goals! Click here for details.
I know investing in your health may feel like a luxury. But Radical Wellness is actually the ultimate necessity. Without your body, you can’t enjoy the amazing life you have. So what are you waiting for?