There are a multitude of reasons we crave the foods we do. Last week, I defined them within six categories--which I playfully termed the “protagonists of cravings.”This week, I dive a little deeper into the latter two, recited below:
Traditions- Sometimes we crave a certain food because we associate it with people or a specific place, like Thanksgiving desserts or popcorn at the movies.
Feelings- Often we reach for food when food is not the solution. If we have a rough day, are disappointed, or feel depressed, we may consciously or unconsciously turn to food to soothe us. Or perhaps every time we celebrate a victory, we feel the need to incorporate “a treat.”
If you, like the majority of us, have experienced these emotional cravings, it is likely that the knowledge of good nutrition is not enough to maintain healthy lifestyle change. Old habits die hard, and sometimes (or all the time) your emotions just overrule your nutrition sense. But the good news is they can die! If you are willing to prioritize care of your body over cravings, freedom is awaiting you!
Here is the strategy: you must first identify the source of the craving. If you are expecting emotional gratification from food, even the most nourishing food isn’t qualified for the job. In your point of weakness, work to understand what it is you really need: maybe it is activity or fresh air, affirmation and encouragement, laughter with friends or family. These are all things we are naturally designed to crave. I have also experienced that the only thing which truly satisfies my emotional needs is relationship with Jesus Christ. When that is lacking, and the benefits of understanding, purpose, joy and peace that come with it, I often look to food for comfort. Food provides temporary gratification without nourishing the soul.
Still, food should be fun and exciting! So when there are traditions we want to preserve or celebrate, balance is the key. Balance is found when hospitality in our homes and social gatherings nourish our body and soul. This is actually one of the challenges I have enjoyed most! The holidays are so much fun as I recreate dishes with healthier options. Sometimes it takes a little practice cooking with different ingredients, but thankfully there are a plethora of nutritious recipes available. So, whatever your go-to “naughty foods” might be, find an exciting and healthy substitute.
Freedom and balance. These are the keywords I used within this article. I am here to equip you with tools to restore freedom and balance to your health. It will take discipline, and maybe some humble soul searching. However, speaking from experience, the challenge and taste of victory are worth it!