One of the ways your body talks to you is with cravings. A craving is simply the body’s way of indicating an imbalance while simultaneously giving you the solution.
Are you using the wisdom of cravings or are the cravings using you?
Cravings not only indicate body imbalances and their solution, but cravings also indicate imbalances and needs on emotional and mental levels. Cravings heal, cravings destroy and sometimes a craving is both healing and destructive at the same time.
Learn to use “cravings” for best outcomes. The positive kick-back is that when cravings are acted on the body will reward you with feel good body chemicals.
I will explain what to look for so keep reading.
Healing and Survival Cravings
Most of us have heard at least one story about someone who survived against all odds a life and death situation simply by following their instincts. Suddenly they were savagely eating raw fish eyes or raw internal digestive organs and happily satisfied afterwards. Only to repeat the behavior at the next opportunity with as much gusto, if not more, than the first time. The body has incredible wisdom and knows what it needs to balance and survive. Once rescued, information would reveal how their cravings and instincts were pivotal to their survival.
A small attraction, desire, interest or curiosity are the beginning stages of a craving. If these initial quiet suggestions are unmet then the craving sets in, escalates and may become an insatiable need.
At every given moment your body knows exactly what it needs. It knows far more than your mind. When the body’s knowing is allowed to reach conscious awareness it communicates what it needs to survive, maintain balance and encourage the healing process.
The body’s biggest obstacle to communicating, being heard and acting on this information is our brain. The body’s craving messages often never arrive or they are discarded because our brain judges the information to be right/wrong or good/bad. Sometimes the brain just can’t be bothered to muster up the courage or energy to act on that priceless information.
What causes imbalances?
Any change in living or work environments, weather, climate, season, geographic location, genetics, food choices, job responsibilities, illness, physical activity or more will create physical inner body imbalances. Even lunar and solar activity influence the body in significant ways.
Menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding create cravings based on the bodies needs to perform a job. A pregnancy craving may show up as a gallon of ice cream, which in reality may be an enticing allure because the body needs calcium and carbohydrates (cellular energy).
The body has different responsibilities in cold winters than it does in the hot summertime. This is reflected by people’s vastly different food choices at different times of the year or with changes in weather. If you have a desk job and then suddenly are transferred to manual labor your food choices will change because more energy will be needed. Colds and flus can suppress hunger altogether or leave someone seeking only very bland foods and fluids (broth, tea, lemon/honey and such).
Some 20 years ago I remember being a dinner guest at a close friend’s house. The main entrée she decided to prepare was white fish in red sauce. Instead of fresh fish she bought dry salt preserved fish at the local outdoor market. I was living in France at the time where this type of fish is easily found. Unfortunately she didn’t know to rinse off the salt. Nor did she soak to rehydrate or rinse the fish. She simply put the salted dried fish straight in the simmering sauce. To say the meal was salty is an understatement. She was the last to sit down at the table to taste her main course. Horrified, she instantly understood her error and explained. We all laughed, but we forged ahead and ate the entrée! Dumb. Within a half hour we were drinking one glass and pitcher of water after the next which was followed by equal trips to the toilet. It took 24 full hours of drinking water incessantly to rebalance the body’s sodium to water ratio.
Remember: Anytime there is an imbalance in the body, there will be a need or craving. The craving is the solution to regain balance. We often think of cravings as “what to do”, but not being hungry is a craving to not have food. They are both important to respect.
I have a lot of internal digestive organ problems. I only eat when my body is giving me the signs that it wants, is ready and prepared for me to eat. If I give it food when there is no clear “hunger” sign then I am asking for trouble.
Cravings don’t always scream
Sometimes cravings are subtle and draw your interest because of a color, shape, smell or something else. Be willing to follow these subtle and mysterious attractions. Your body is a massive magnet and will naturally be drawn to what it needs to create balance. It might also be slightly repulsed by items that may cause further imbalance. There are no rules for how it works – cravings may show up as a visual attraction, a mental concept, a sensory impression, an auditory cue or olfactory appeal. Trust it.
If you are being drawn to alcohol, candy, cigarettes, processed/fast foods, decadent bakery items or something else you know is unhealthy then there is likely to a repetitive food addiction or an emotional link. Keep reading because I will explain and show you what to look for.
Trust your body like a child
Some years ago an extensive study was done to understand children’s natural food choices. The kids were offered a buffet of healthy foods and allowed to eat anything they wanted. Most all the children’s single meals were entirely imbalanced. The kids would pile up a plate of only proteins, or only fruits, or only carbohydrates or only vegetables. However the findings were astounding. While the kid’s choices for a single meal were not balanced, the average over 21 meals was in perfect balance. The kid’s inherent instincts were far more balanced and healthy than were the adults who were given the same buffet. (This study was done with kids who were not fast food, frozen food, convenient or snack food addicts.)
Cravings don’t always make sense
I have Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Pancolitis and Celiac (along with other medical problems). After being discharged from the hospital after a lengthy stay, my body was still suffering severe internal swelling and bleeding. Oddly, I was craving cinnamon and fresh ground pepper. The thought of eating either while having raw internal bleeding wounds seemed absolutely insane and careless. The cravings didn’t subside. My intellect said no, but my body said YES. Finally one day I decided to try a tiny bit to see what happened.
Crohn’s, Pancolitis and Celiac are merciless. Make one mistake and you will pay dearly for several days, weeks or even months. For those of you who don’t know what Crohn’s Pancolitis and Celiac can do to a person imagine the last time you had food poisoning or the stomach flu. That is the best resemblance I can give to someone who doesn’t know what it is, but it is far worse. Multiply what you know by a thousand, add lots of blood loss, internal ulcers, gripping pain that would drop superman to his knees and often is accompanied by many systemic conditions which are in and of themselves debilitating. Since these are disease processes (and not the stomach flu or a salmonella poisoning) there is not fixed length of time nor level of intensity. The advantage of these merciless disease responses is that when I make a bad decision my body tells me promptly and is undeniable. Deciding to eat some cinnamon and fresh ground black pepper seemed as risky as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. Once down the hatch I had just to wait and see how my body would respond. Not only did neither cause further damage, but they actually helped! That was an unexpected surprise and taught me to trust my body. As the days passed I increased the quantities and included them with each meal. It was a strange combination, but it was helping so I continued, trusted my body would tell me if it had enough and didn’t ask questions.
I share my story as an example of how intellectually illogical cravings may be at times, but how they may in fact be the solution. I am not by any means suggesting cinnamon or fresh cracked black pepper if you have Crohn’s, Pancolitis or Celiac. What I am encouraging is that you listen and trust your body even if it doesn’t make sense.
The body communicates in the best way it can, it may not be 100% perfect
For years I craved salt. Not just a little salt. I wanted excessive amounts of salt on my food. The taste of salt in my mouth was a relief. I even ate natural rock salt without food! While I really wanted the salt all the time, it caused my Crohn’s, Pancolitis and Celiac to go into crisis. While the craving was constant, it was not something I could honor for my body. The craving left me perplexed for years. Why was my body craving salt if when I ate it, it caused total distress and damage to my body organs? I couldn’t figure it out.
Many years would pass before I would understand the enigma, quite by accident. I had been in IV chelation for heavy metal toxicity for years. I felt the heavy metal toxicity was at the origin of my auto-immune diseases and was compelled to get the heavy metals out of my body with the hopes my conditions would reverse. IV chelation was the only and most effective way my body could remove the heavy metals. However IV chelation also removes essential and trace minerals that the body needs. I had been in treatments 2-4x a month for over 5 years at that point. With the ongoing problems of my Crohn’s, Pancolitis and Celiac I had severe malabsorption disorders. My body simply didn’t have the quantities of minerals (essential and trace) that it desperately needed, even though I was taking a lot of supplements.
My first thought was juicing, but it exacerbated my conditions. Extraction juices were better than blended for my body, but it was still a problem. I made single vegetable juices to isolate possible vegetable triggers, but that was unsuccessful too. Then I tried chewing and swishing the juice in my mouth to see if activating salivary glands would make a difference. All that did was result in my dentist being unhappy about all the dental stains. One day I froze a bunch of juice because I just couldn’t stomach what I had in the fridge and I didn’t want to waste it. Curiously, my body enjoyed frozen and then thawed juice. Something in the freezing altered the juice and enabled my body to more easily use its benefits. But what an ordeal (juicing, freezing and thawing?). I opted to investigate the many different types and brands of liquid minerals on the market (colloidal, ionic, natural, laboratory made, homeopathic, humic, fulvic and more). The ones that caused pain I immediately stopped using. The liquid mineral products that didn’t cause any immediate or 72 hour delayed reactions I continued to take.
Like I mentioned earlier, Crohn’s, Pancolitis and Celiac are bad, but the good side is they don’t lie and they promptly tell me when I have made a bad decision. My body has so many problems, that everything it is doing is a sign. Good sign? Bad sign? I check in and pay attention to all the details. If I have a doubt I double check and cross check by eliminating, isolating, adapting and retesting. I often have to look for the undesirable reactions – those come faster and are SCREAMERS so they are easier to identify. Healing is sometimes slow and not always as easy to grasp.
I was taking all the liquid minerals daily. One day I realized I had gone from wanting to eat raw rock salt to not having a salt craving at all. Something I was doing worked. What was it? I grabbed my different bottles of liquid minerals to find out why. I was taking about 5 different types. Not only were my salt cravings gone, but something else radically changed. I no longer needed to take my hydrochloric acid capsules (HCL) for a stomach that wasn’t producing any stomach acid. What a relief because knowing how much HCL my body needed changed from day to day. It was a big guessing game. If I took too much or too little I had a lot of abdominal pain. Since starting the liquid minerals I didn’t need to take the HCL capsules at all. My body was producing the perfect and proper amount of stomach acid each and every day. It was miraculous. I was so happy about it that I didn’t even try to figure out what happened I was just thrilled for the improvement.
I looked at the liquid mineral product labels and zeroed in on the liquid mineral product that had extremely high levels of chloride. No sodium, just high chloride. Salt is a sodium + a chloride. I quickly connected the dots and gained a new and greater found respect for the human body.
My body needed the chloride, but not the sodium. There was no way my body could communicate “ALERT – craving craving – take chloride”. It gave me a craving for the next and closest thing I would understand – SALT. All this suddenly explained why my body suddenly no longer needed the HCL capsules. The salt craving was associated to the hydrochloric acid insufficiency. With the high levels of liquid mineral chloride my body now had the raw material “chloride” from which to naturally produce its own hydrochloric stomach acid. I tested the theory by stopping that liquid mineral intake. Within 48-72 hours I needed HCL capsules once again. It was just a matter of time before the salt cravings would return. Without further delay I got right back to those minerals and haven’t stopped since.
Use the dysfunctions in your body to guide you. Your body will flare when you make a decision that increases the imbalance. It will calm when greater balance is achieved. A “flare” may be a pain, urinary or gastro intestinal disorders, skin problems, inflammation, noteworthy shifts in emotional/mental states, behavior problems, sleep disorders, hyperactivity, chronic fatigue or something else that only you know about your body. Your body dysfunctions are like a screaming baby. Feed a screaming baby when it is hungry, it settles. Hold the baby when it is scared or needs love, it falls asleep. Feed a baby who is tired and the baby will remain irritated. Keep looking for what that “baby” needs because once its needs are met, that screaming baby calms down. Your body is like a screaming baby who needs your help.
Healing and survival cravings are like a wise friend. The guidance may be perfect or it may need to be adjusted, but what it offers is priceless.
Are there cravings your mind is locking out?
Anything and everything you deem to be “bad” or “wrong” is likely to remain outside of your conscious acceptance. Sometimes information we don’t agree with does arrive, but it may be discarded straight away or met with a lot of resistance and defensiveness. My own resistance to honoring the craving for cinnamon and cracked pepper is a good example, but let me share a different story to illustrate what locking out information may look like.
A close friend had been a die-hard strict vegan for some 15 years. Over the course of a couple years her health was sharply deteriorating. She was seeing alternative practitioners because she refused modern medical techniques. Her body continued to falter. One day her body straight out failed. She was rushed to the hospital, entered the ER and was admitted to an intensive care unit. She was dying. She had iron deficiency anemia at deadly levels. She spent a month in the hospital recovering enough blood iron to be discharged.
Many years later when I understood more about the interweaving and connected relationships between our body, mind and heart I wondered. Was her die-hard vegan mind-set locking out her body’s screams for the heme iron that her body desperately needed? A die-hard vegan typically doesn’t even want to hear the word meat, let along liver or oysters. Can you imagine the reaction of a vegan who hears the term blood sausage? Were her ideas and refusal for modern medicine keeping her from hearing her body say “go to a modern medical doctor”?
I don’t have a problem with lifestyle choices, no matter how extreme, but how about keeping an open door policy so your body has the ability to communicate and have its needs be heard so that a solution can be found and honored?
Your body has needs. Those needs must be met for it to maintain health and balance. Your body doesn’t care that your mind has made sense of this world in terms of right/wrong, good/bad – it needs what it needs. If you are a vegan and get a craving for red meat, you don’t have to eat red meat, maybe you need a supplement of iron, carnitine or just more protein. Use the craving as valuable information about what imbalances your body is struggling with.
The mind is powerful. It will justify what is false and refuse what is true.
The real guide should be your body. What is it telling you?
Are outside influences blocking your inner voice of knowing?
Family, friends, peers, career, spiritual/religious and social groups as well as our cultural, experiential and educational backgrounds are important. They offer not only love, acceptance and a sense of belonging, but they also provide a sense of security, safety, value and personal worth.
However, group affiliation comes with the unspoken agreement to comply with that “Group Think”. Simply put “Group Think” is the expected lifestyle of its members while also determining what choices are right/wrong, good/bad. If and when a person begins to think outside of those unspoken boundaries or challenging them outright they are likely to be punished (rejection, shaming, guilt trips, bullying, gossip or other).
The bigger a group the more powerful its force to coerce compliance. The more a person benefits from what the group offers (love, acceptance, purpose, value) the less likely they are to have the courage to challenge that “group think” or to move beyond it.
A girl who came to see me was an advocate and spokesperson for a non-profit organization for her illness. She had suffered for years with the illness without any improvement. She loved the organization because she felt important, valued and had a purpose in her life at a time when her body was failing. The organizations mission was to promote modern medical solutions (prescriptions and surgery). I have nothing against drug treatment, nor surgery, but these are not solutions for everyone. In fact they make matters worse for some. As time passed her desire to have a child of her own grew. Until her illness was in remission and under control she couldn’t have a child. It was so important for her to envision a baby in her future that she began to investigate alternative solutions. What she was discovering ran entirely in opposition to the organizations “group think”. Her new healing choices did not align with the organizations “group think” nor their goals. The desire for a child and need to put the illness into remission she forged ahead and had the courage to leave the organization for personally uncharted territory. Within a few months, her choices led to her illness’ remission.
“Group think” is a powerful way to create stability, focus and mission. It is also a force that keeps people from hearing their own truths.
Do you trust media and experts more than your own body?
Media, experts, professionals and industry are very effective at planting strong ideas into people’s minds. The information may be valid for some, but it rarely ever presents the truth or the big picture. Nor will the majority of media or experts encourage people to use their own inner knowing to find their own unique path (I hope that one day media and experts do encourage people to look for, find and trust their own inner knowing, but that isn’t the case today).
Do you know mercury chloride (calomel) was once heralded and approved by the medical community to heal illness and disease? Mercury Chloride is an acute and cumulative poison. Blood-letting (draining blood from the body) was also an approved method for healing illness and disease. Our first President George Washington died at the age of 67. It started with a severe sore throat and fever. The best doctors arrived to treat him. He was given mercury chloride and subjected to 3 series of bloodletting (about 32 oz of his blood was drained in a very short period of time). Is it surprising he died? He handed his health over to “experts”. It is likely that his sore throat and fever would have healed perfectly fine with lots of fluids, chicken broth, hot lemon juice & honey with a lot of bed rest and quiet.
Society doesn’t teach us to trust our body. We are taught that people with schooling or a title are more knowledgeable even though each person lives in their body 24/7.
The examples of how negatively influential media, social pressure and organizations are is Wikipedia worthy. Do you remember when the media told you not to eat eggs? Now they tell you to eat eggs. Peanuts have been on the media rollercoaster these last few years too. Coffee gets continually a bad rap, but coffee influences each person’s body entirely differently. It will trigger a migraine for one person but cure a migraine for another. Coffee may be the source of systemic or localized inflammation for one person, but may be healing gallbladder disorders for another. Did you know that coffee is a methyl donor? Methyl donors activate the body’s natural detoxification pathways so that heavy metals and body toxicity can be removed via the urine and stool. The answer is not in what media tells you to do or not to do, the answer is coming from your body. How is your body responding to coffee?
Do you value professional and media opinion over what your body is indicating?
Is your body given a voice at all? What is your body telling you? How is your body responding?
Another important question is, do you have the strength and courage to make decisions based on your body knowing or does others approval play a big role in how you make decisions?
How each person makes decisions is very complex, but it is worthwhile looking at.
A friend of mine has severe restless legs, but knows a nicotine patch will remove the problem within minutes. Another friend knows all she needs is a bag of salty potato chips and seven-up at the onset of a migraine to completely stop it from materializing.
Your body is an invaluable source of information. Use it. It is free. Believe it, it tells you truths. You are your body’s expert because you live in it 24/7. But the information is useless if you aren’t honest with yourself. For example: eating chocolate and justifying it because of its meager levels of magnesium is not being honest. If you want chocolate then indulge, but own the fact you want to eat chocolate (or admit you have an addiction to it). If you really need magnesium then take a magnesium supplement.
Misleading Body Cravings
Here is where cravings become tricky, because a craving can be manifesting for reasons that are misleading and causing problems rather than helping.
Repetitive food consumption cravings
When the same foods are eaten day after day these create physical routines. If and when your body isn’t getting what it expects, it responds in ways that are similar to withdrawal symptoms and addiction.
A beautiful illustration of this phenomenon is the documentary by Morgan Spurlock called Super Size Me. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Brilliant. Food cravings that stem from repetitive food choices and food addictions are harmful.
Repetitive food routines are like a bad, but addictive relationship. We have all experienced those at some point. Repetitive food patterns cause addiction like body chemistry. The body craves them, but they are causing body dysfunctions.
I remember how much I loved eating my morning French bread. Such a love affair I would easily get out of bed in the morning to indulge. Stopping cold turkey and switching to vegetables for breakfast was a tough transition and took a few years before I really began to love eating vegetables for breakfast.
Healthy food cravings may not be healthy for YOUR body
Blood allergy/intolerance testing (IgG, IgE) reveals surprising information. Just because a food is healthy and you love it doesn’t mean your body agrees.
One day at IV treatment a new patient was there. As with every new person we all want to know what is wrong and what is in his IV bag. He had recently been diagnosed with an incurable disease, possibly deadly and he was gearing up to have an important organ surgically removed. An organ he wished to keep. His action plan for healing included modern medicine, alternative, holistic and nutrition. He shared his story and complained about hating his new diet. The blood allergy testing revealed that some of his favorite healthy foods were causing violent responses in his immune system. How could his home grown organic bell peppers and cucumbers be causing health problems?! It would never have occurred to him without the blood testing. He admitted he loved and craved them, however he also admitted that once he wasn’t eating them his abdominal pain subsided quickly and effortlessly. The happy ending to this story is that within the year his disease condition reversed and the body organ he wanted to keep healed too. I still occasionally see him, he is still avoiding cucumbers and bell peppers and he is healthy and happy.
Just because your head and the media tell you it is healthy doesn’t mean your body agrees.
Learned cravings via associations
Not all cravings originate from the physical body. Some stem from unconscious associations (personal or social). These start the day we are born and change or develop throughout our lives. Some of these associative cravings are simple and harmless, but sometimes they are downright destructive. No matter which, they both offer messages of truth. Truths that often heal the heart. Let me explain with a few stories.
Every day after school Robin walks to her Grandmother’s house before heading home. On occasion, Robin has a really tough day at school and arrives distraught and sad. Grandma sympathizes and with the unconditional love and affection she whips up a batch of fresh cookies in no time. Robin shares the events and sheds a tear or two. Within minutes fresh cookies are coming out of the oven and served with a fresh glass of cold milk. Soon Robin is feeling better, has completely forgotten her woes and is ready to take on life again.
As Robin moves through life she may crave cookies and milk when she’s had a tough day, needs to cry or to talk to someone. She may also crave cookies and milk when she misses her Grandmothers unconditional love. Fresh cookies and milk may also be the way Robin reconnects in her heart with the memories of Grandma once grandma has crossed over.
This isn’t a bad association. However if Robin understands the relationship behind the fresh cookies and milk she may decide there is a better way to honor her needs and honor the importance of her Grandmother in her life.
A young bulimic teenager Lisa binges and purges regularly. She started doing this with her mom. In fact when Lisa and her mom binged and purged it was a big fun event. They would go to the store laughing and giggling as they selected everything they wanted to eat. At home they sat on the couch, ate, watched movies, had fun and shared personal stories. It was during these bulimic purges that their mother daughter bond was formed. Lots of love, laughter and good memories. This is a destructive and addictive pattern, but within that lies a very powerful and meaningful positive bonding experience of love between mother and daughter. Unfortunately it happened via the doorway of bulimia. Over time and repetition this became a part of Lisa’s body chemistry. The craving is laden with connections to her mother, their relationship, her sense of happiness, love and fun as well as her body’s biochemistry.
A craved and yearned for food (or behavior) is a treasure trove of information. Some questions that will help you get to the real reasons you do what you do are these:
When did it start? What were the circumstances? How and with whom?
When in your life do/did you do it?
How do you feel before? How do you feel afterwards?
What needs does/did it meet?
What is/was avoided?
Who benefits if the behavior stops?
Who benefits if the behavior continues?
How can I meet the need in another way?
Who can help me sort this out?
Sometimes a craving is simple, such as craving red meat because the body needs carnitine, protein or heme iron. Cravings don’t need to make sense (my craving for cinnamon and cracked pepper when I had severe internal bleeding). Another time a craving may indicate a partial truth like my salt craving really being about the need for chloride. Our body cravings are not always heard because our mind discredits the body’s communication. Upbringing and media often have us believing others before we believe our body.
Cravings can be downright wrong when there is a food addiction (even if the food is healthy). Some of our life’s adventures may be the source of emotional food relationships that are misleading.
Cravings are windows for better understanding what our body needs when they are true while also being treasure troves for understanding who we are at a deeper emotional level.
Allow yourself to have an open door policy to hear what your body telling you.
Remember that cravings happen because there is an imbalance in the body. The craving not only indicates an imbalance, but the craving is offering you valuable information to find the solution.