Understanding Cravings

According to Merriam-Webster, a “craving” is defined as “an intense, urgent or abnormal desire” for something. We throw the term around loosely, as if it is negative, throughout the day. However, can ‘cravings’ be used as a wellness tool? Yes. In fact, understanding cravings can be used to help us heal.

Cravings are signals – often in reverse, to guide us to balance mind, body and spirit. Were you aware that craving sugar, for example, often represents a physiological imbalance of the gastrointestinal system (i.e., candida in the gut)? Translation: The body needs to avoid sugar and all simple carbohydrates while simultaneously taking the correct strains of probiotics. If you take exogenous insulin, check with your doctor about cutting back on eating sugar and simple carbohydrates; if you don’t take insulin, feel free to ‘cut out’ as much sugar and simple carbs as you can, immediately. With or without daily exogenous insulin as part of your lifestyle, ask your doctor about the possible value of probiotics. Never self-treat – even with probiotics, because different strains target specific areas of the gastrointestinal system, and the amounts, preparation, and other factors are important as well.

Food cravings also clue us in to emotional imbalance and spiritual discomfort. You’ve heard of “emotional eating.” This is a term used to describe how food cravings signal emotional and spiritual need. Anxiety is often a large component of this complex communication system, and yet, anxiety isn’t ever called a “craving,” is it? After all, anxiety is something we try to avoid at all cost, don’t we?

How often has anxiety or stress been used as the main reason for taking a vacation, taking time off, or taking time to ourselves? Why do we need to justify self-care with a label signaling imbalance? When terms are confused or inappropriately interchanged, blurred responses often result. So, when we think or feel “I need self-care,” we often misinterpret that desire as selfish rather than self-care. This might translate into, “I don’t deserve time to myself unless I’m stressed, anxious or ill.” After all, that seems like a more valid reason to indulge in self-care without feeling selfish.

The bottom line is, cravings need to be appropriately interpreted so we can understand what the brain is trying to convey about how to heal mind, body and spirit. Eating a well balanced diet, resting appropriately, and avoiding sugar are important steps. Taking emotional inventory and giving yourself permission to draw healthy boundaries and self-treat with self-care is another important key.

Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World,” which streams live on the Marcy’s World Facebook page. Email your questions to: DrIankowitz@yahoo.com. For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit www.DrIankowitz.com online.