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  • Julie C.H. Brake, MS, RDN, LD

What Can I Do About Cravings?

I told someone that I had posted something on my blog about cravings... And then I said, "Or maybe I haven't posted it, but I wrote the blog post in my head." Clearly it was the latter. So now I'm actually putting it on the blog. I'll answer some questions I'm commonly asked about cravings. Please note that this is not personal advice but general information. If you need individual guidance on how to best give your body the nutrition it needs, see a Registered Dietitian in your area.

Should I eat whatever I'm craving? This is a trap question. There's not a straight yes or no to this. In general, it is fine to eat whatever you are craving. However, it must be done with mindfulness, intention, and while being in tune with hunger and fullness cues. In the big picture of overall nutritional intake, getting a variety of foods tends to balance everything.

Why am I craving {insert craved food here - bread, meat, cereal, fast food, candy, chocolate, salad, fruit, etc...}? There are many reasons that we have cravings. Sometimes we crave what the body physically needs. People who have low blood iron tend to crave high iron foods. If the body wants to gain weight, it will crave more nutrient dense foods. When we have restricted carbohydrates, the body is deprived and will crave grain foods. Balancing nutrition can help decrease cravings that feel extreme. Another reason we have cravings is that we have another need. We may be stressed, emotional, lonely, bored, or tired. Sometimes it is appropriate for food to help us address these situations, again as long as it is mindful, intentional, and intuitive. Yet another reason we may have cravings is that we feel deprived. Whether we have been intentionally avoiding certain foods or in a situation when we couldn't get something we wanted, feelings of deprivation can lead to very strong desires for that food or type of food. Lastly, we may crave something simply because we need energy and that food will give us the energy we need.

If I don't automatically follow every craving, how do I know when to eat what I'm craving and when to do something else? This is slightly different for everyone. The main principle is to be able to stop and consider why you might be craving that food. Then if you feel like it would satisfy your hunger and your physical and emotional needs, you should intentionally enjoy that food to a level of true satisfaction - not limiting and not so excessive that you feel ill. As adults, we have allowed ideas of diets and thinness and health to cloud our ability to know our own bodies' cues. Take the time to pay attention and be mindful about what you're eating and why.

If you need more specific guidance about cravings you are experiencing, please reach out to a Registered Dietitian near you. You may also contact Positive Nutrition at any time for help. Regardless of your location, I can help find connections for you.

Eat well, stay mindful, and prosper!

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