facing cravings head-on.

sweet potatoes{getting a little personal. can you relate to any of this?}

Cravings. Whoa. I have been having a really tough time with this lately.

Mine are particularly for carbohydrates; not for candy or chocolate, but for foods as specific as oats and sweet potatoes. All the time. Sound familiar?

Also, my hunger has been all over the place. I have been eating fairly consistently over the last year, feeling really well fueled and going for 5 hours between meals with no problem.

Lately, I've been ravenous.

And when I'm not hungry, I still feel that "keep eating" sensation. It is frustrating. (I logic out "you just ate 15 minutes ago; there should be no reason this is happening".) I also notice that once I START eating, it's hard to stop. The cravings kick in once I've opened the floodgates. Have you experienced this?

I thought I had a handle on this. It's been tough to confront this feeling and also a great reminder that I am a work in progress. I need to constantly retool my food and my patterns to suit what I need in this specific moment. Just as no diet works for everyone, no one plan works for any individual all of the time. I have decided to embrace this as an exercise in flexibility and awareness, and a great opportunity to listen to what my body is asking for. 

To rule out anything unusual, I recently had some blood work done. My nutrient levels are perfect, my hormones are just fine, I'm not pregnant. So what's going on?

In Anne Marie Colbin's work, which I've been reading a ton of lately, she addresses that there's something amiss when western medicine tells us that if nothing shows up in a test, we're fine. (If symptoms continue, clearly something is off.) She also speaks a lot to the idea of balance and the properties of food: if we skew our eating too far to one side of the spectrum, we will crave foods that fall too far in the other direction (salt and sugar are at opposite ends, for example). Could this be the reason my cravings and hunger are all over the place?

While I explore reducing the salt in my diet (perhaps out of balance because of all that Insanity sweating I've been doing), I'm exploring ways that feel realistic and non-punishing to ride out my cravings. I'm using the following tools to get thought:

Swapping in foods (more carrots, squash, sweet potatoes during the day in the hopes of curbing the sweet cravings at night)

Going to bed (it's hard to keep eating when you've called it a night)

Keeping busy (Being immersed in something that feels fulfilling often helps me to forget the hungry feeling. It's not suppressing actual hunger, but giving my mind the opportunity to consider what it actually wants. I find the more engaged I am with an activity, the easier it is to let the craving pass. That includes writing, dealing with administrivia for work, and organizing... our bookshelves and filing cabinets have never been so in order!)

Staying hydrated (water, water, water... it's often the cause of cravings. Dehydration is easy to mistake as hunger, so I'm covering my bases by drinking extra water throughout the day.)

Reasoning it out (Should I feel hungry right now? What is this sensation? Hunger? Boredom? Digestion? Exhaustion? Being honest with myself and responding accordingly.)

Breathing (it's wild what a few deep breaths can change. Re-centering and focusing on the present moment takes me out of my stomach and into my mind. My mind tends to communicate a little more clearly when I give it some attention.)

Staying active (as with keeping busy, it's cool to notice how the cravings pass as soon as I start to move)

Until I uncover whats out of whack internally, these things are keeping me aligned with my long term choices and the things I value most.

Taking care of myself - not giving in because I know what allows me to feel my best - feels more important than trying to make the icky feeling go away by eating. Being flexible with myself and understanding that there could be more going on has allowed me to make choices that support me, not set me back.

Take care of you! 
- amy

Do you deal with cravings? What helps you most? What confuses you most about what you experience?

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