3 Questions to ask yourself before giving in to food cravings

One of the most surprising benefits of eating real food, for me, has been learning to trust my body.

I can feel a shift coming, specifically in relation to my breakfast.

One of the things I teach people in coaching is how to think about your feelings (cravings) and decide if it’s something worth taking action on.

Since I’m going through this myself I wanted to share my thought process with you.

For the past two years, I’ve eaten eggs and potatoes for breakfast. I’ll cook the eggs in a variety of ways, scrambled, over easy poached. And I cook the potatoes in different ways, homemade hash browns, pan fried, regular potatoes and sweet potatoes.

For the past two months I’ve started getting bored. I’m not as excited to eat breakfast and – the big one – I don’t feel as energized after eating breakfast as I used to.

Suddenly I’m getting cravings for fruit. I want something crisp and juicy, something really clean, light, tart and sweet.

There are 3 ½ questions that I ask myself when I get cravings for food I don’t usually eat.

1. Is it a craving for real food?

Food, flavor, and nutrition are all linked. They’re connected. Before people started using flavor chemicals to change the way food tastes, humans were able to use the language of flavor to seek out the nutrition they needed. A craving for chicken soup when were sick is an example of a learned association between the flavor of chicken soup and the effect of feeling better.

But when you’ve been eating cheetos, frozen dinners, breakfast cereal, your internal flavor/nutrition compass is all wacky.

If you’re getting cravings for junky food, pay attention to the flavors you want and seek those flavors out in a real food form.

2. Is it ongoing or fleeting?

How long have you experienced this feeling. The cravings I’ve been feeling lately were subtle. In fact it took a good month for me to pay attention to them. But as I look back, my food preferences in the morning have been shifting for about two months.

This is different than last night when I was watching TV and the characters were talking about waffles. At that moment waffles sounded good. For about 2 seconds I thought about making waffles, but decided I didn’t want them enough to get up and make them.

Today, I’m not in the mood for waffles. That momentary craving is totally gone.   

3. Is it being influenced by something external?

I could answer yes to both of the scenarios we just talked about.

The waffles – influenced by a conversation between characters on television.

The fruit – most likely influenced by the fact that it’s been very gray and rainy the last few months and I am sooo ready for summer. I want to bbq outside, I want to go swimming, I want tomatoes, and cucumber and mint, and all those fresh crisp, juicy things.

3B. Are you comfortable with that influence in your life?

Being influenced by 1 conversation on television – no. That doesn’t make me feel good. If I think about myself in 20 years, I would be very sad to still have stuff I see on TV influencing my desires. When I picture that person I think they don’t have control over their own life.

Being influenced by the seasons and my excitement for summer? Yes, I’m totally down with that. I feel good about having that kind of influence throughout my life. If I think about myself in 20 years, I would be happy to still be influenced by the seasons.