Oh. My. Gosh. Stupid cravings. I’m trying not to call them stupid because they are probably signaling something either physical or emotional that I need to deal with, but they feel stupid. Because I don’t want them. And I feel a little cheated that after 25 days of no alcohol, added sugar, or grains, I am still having cravings. I kind of feel like this should be a thing of the past and I should just be happy and thrilled that I’m eating all things that are good for my body. But actually, today and yesterday, I’ve been mostly just wishing I weren’t. I’d like to go get frozen yogurt with my kid and open a bottle of wine tonight. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask. And I’ve had 25 days of really clean eating so you know what I feel? I feel like I deserve a break. And I feel a little like it sucks that I have 20 more days to go before that can happen. And that is making me feel rebellious because I’m a grown up that can choose to eat or drink whatever I want and really, this life, MY life, is about balance and enjoying the small moments that come around every day and if that is a part of how I enjoy life then I should just relax and do it.
Only this. I feel better when I don’t drink and when I’m not crashing from added sugar. I feel better in my body and mind and soul when I’m treating it right. My energy is more stable and my thought processes are clearer and more measured when I’m not on some food induced chemical roller coaster.
So what is happening here? I’m sure it’s a combination of things, many of which I’ll never know for sure, but my best guess is that my brain kind of likes how things were before when I would just follow every little urge down its path and not worry about the outcome. It was easier to not have a goal or something that I want to accomplish. Choosing to eat a certain way, striving to create my healthiest and happiest body, making decisions that are not rooted in instant gratification – all these things can be hard at times and I guess I’m in one of those times.
I’ve got some things on my heart and mind and I don’t have answers for them right now. Personally, that’s a tough space for me to be in because I’m a fairly decisive person. Uncertainty is not my favorite space. In fact, if I don’t know the right thing to do, sometimes I’ll just jump anyway so that at least I’m dealing with a concrete set of circumstances and can put my action oriented self back to work. Just being with what is and not knowing what comes next, or even what I wish to come next, that’s tough for me.
In my experience, cravings and urges are two different things. An urge comes on suddenly, like someone mentions frozen yogurt (my son yesterday) and suddenly something that wasn’t even on my radar looms before me as a giant desire. Or you’re not even hungry but the dessert cart comes along and suddenly you really think that piece of cake is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.
Urges tend to pass rather quickly. If you can distract yourself for 15 minutes – go for a walk, meditate, get involved in a craft or project, lose yourself in a conversation or book – the urge will generally move through and you can go on about your day.
Cravings for something specific, however, tend to linger a little longer. Sometimes for days or until the craving has been addressed. You might be craving pizza or cookies or chips, for example, and it goes on for a while. Another characteristic of a craving is it is usually quite specific. It’s not any cookie, it’s a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven or your grandma’s snickerdoodles. Or maybe it’s BBQ Lays or that one coffee-candy drink you love or something like that. In the case of a true craving, sometimes the best solution is to satisfy that particular craving in the best way you can. This might mean finding the healthiest version that will still satisfy the taste and texture sensation, particularly if you have a food sensitivity, by maybe creating a Paleo version or hunting down a close representation. Or it might mean indulging in exactly what you’re craving but being very aware of how much you eat and how it affects your mind and body and truly savoring the experience.
Sometimes, though, the key to handling the craving is to dig a little deeper and uncover the underlying FEELING that you are trying to satisfy. Because, really, the body isn’t looking for the nutrition found in that chocolate chip cookie – it simply doesn’t need it. It, or your mind, is looking for something else. So what is it?
Sometimes my thoughts get busy and a little obsessive on a topic and what I’m seeking from wine or over-indulgent food is actually a sense of relief and space from my thoughts. I crave numbing out so that I don’t have to face head-on that I don’t have an answer for a particular situation and I also don’t have a next best move. That maybe I’m in a space of waiting and releasing control and allowing life to unfold. In that space of uncertainty, I’m looking to wrest some control back and take charge or to escape the discomfort of not having the answer. The problem with indulging in this way is I turn off my ability to discover and feel and my body doesn’t love what I put in it when I do this.
Or maybe I’m looking for that sense of carefree liberation that I feel when I’ve had a glass or two of wine and am indulging in whatever pleases my senses. It’s a playful state, a celebratory sensation, something that feels totally good and joyful. This release from responsibilities and duties is so relaxing and I believe this state of being can be one of self-care. The trouble with it though is that I sometimes get confused and believe the playful, joyful, relaxed sensations come from the food when in reality they come from the mental place of letting go and fully immersing myself in the moment while releasing the hold that any expectation of how things should be has.
There are a million other feelings that you might be craving that you are confounding with food cravings. What is it that you truly desire and how might you satisfy that feeling? Once you discover this, and satisfy it, if you still want the food then go for it. But maybe, just maybe, you fulfilled your need for love, adventure, connection, relaxation, rebellion, celebration, delight, release, playfulness, or whatever in a way that actually, truly nourished your soul. And maybe, just maybe, it felt infinitely better than a cookie.
Shine bright. xo
So What did I eat today?
Breakfast – 2 eggs, zucchini, 1/4 avocado, sauerkraut
Post-workout lunch: Grilled pork salad with beets, tomatoes, avocado / Sweet potato / Cherries
Snack – Strawberries
Dinner – Grilled tri-tip / Sweet potato / Cantaloupe / 1/4 avocado
I decided to add some sweet potato into my day in case I was needing more carbohydrates. It seemed to help calm the cravings but I also think that this morning’s introspection helped too.
How did I move today?
A lot! Metcon that included lots of push-ups and squat jumps inside burpees plus some heavy bent-over barbell rows.
Tennis with my son – just a few more days of summer vacation left!
And then an hour walking around the track with some friends while he had football practice. I am toast!