Food cravings are incredibly common. That sweet snack or that salty crunch from our favorite chips after a long hard day is something we’ve all reached for at one time or another. But have you ever wondered why you reach for the snacks you reach for? And how can you tune into what messages your body is really telling you?
Hunger signals are fascinating because not all hunger signals are created equal. Some signals communicate that our body needs nourishment, and others are our body expressing its emotional state. For the purposes of this blog, we will be talking about the latter and how to address this. One of the most effective tools in decoding our body’s hunger signals is ‘intuitive eating.’
Intuitive eating is a helpful tool to implement in our daily lives. It creates awareness between ourselves and our food choices while exploring why we chose the foods we do. Intuitive eating is the act of doing a very quick check-in with yourself about how you feel, how your day has been, how stressed you are etc., before you eat. A great example of intuitive eating is looking at sugar cravings, for example. Let’s say you crave sugar at the same time every night. Before reaching for the chocolate, tapping into your intuition with a set of questions may help you figure out why you want sugar every evening. Some of the questions may sound like:
- Have I eaten enough food today?
- Have I had enough healthy fats?
- Did I drink enough water today?
- Am I stress eating or eating for nourishment?
- Did I sleep well last night?
- Am I craving food or affection?
- Have I had a stressful day?
Intuitive eating is essentially like taking a body scan, taking note of how we are feeling, and planning and eating accordingly. Just because we are feeling hungry doesn’t always mean that we are hungry. And taking a much deeper look at our hunger signals will help us tune into what our bodies actually want.
Here is a list of additional questions to consider when you feel your food cravings kicking in:
- On a scale of 1-10, how anxious am I? 1 being totally calm, 10 being very anxious.
- How tired am I?
- How stressed am I?
- Am I feeling emotional at the moment?
- How much did I sleep last night?
- How much have I eaten today?
- How much did I eat yesterday?
- Have I been sleeping well the past few days?
These questions become second nature the more we ask them. And soon, it only takes seconds to do a quick check-in.
Additional tips for Intuitive Eating include:
- Keep a food journal and track how you feel before and after you eat.
- When you answer these questions, don’t attribute a moral value to your answers. Your answers are simply how you are feeling, and how you are feeling is just data. Try to exercise judgment-free observations about yourself. You don’t need to feel ashamed for having an emotion that is negative or isn’t happy all the time.
- If you find yourself reaching for food that isn’t considered a “whole food,” especially during a stressful time, take a moment and ask yourself the questions mentioned above. Typically, when we reach for food that fits the bill for our cravings, something deeper is being communicated from our bodies.
This practice is excellent for getting to the source of our cravings. Once we get to the root cause, then we can figure out how to curb our cravings.
In our next blog, we will be sharing our favorite method for doing just that, curbing our cravings. Our Health Coaches use this method with their clients daily, and it works! So stay tuned!
Dr. Horowitz & Staff