What are you really hungry for?

Sometimes our food cravings reflect our body’s authentic needs for certain nutrients. But unless we’re craving a bowl of steamed greens, or protein sources (when it’s more likely to be hot chips, or a couple of biscuits from the ever-tempting jar in the office kitchen) then the real need isn’t for food at all.


Foods high in sugars and fat help the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for boosting mood. So our afternoon cookie-craving continues because we remember the feel-good boost we received the last time we enjoyed a Tim Tam, and will continue to repeat this timely ritual at 3pm.

We don’t just use food for energy and nutrients. Commonly, food is a distraction and a temporary escape for what we are resisting. Office-dwellers and students are privy to a convenient Kit Kat corner store run or breaking for chit chat around the kitchen to “take a little break” while trying to finish a work or study project.

Think of a time when you were deeply absorbed in a creative task or engaged in play or good times. You have no desire to escape it by snacking, did you?

In moments of weakness, check in with yourself and ask this very simple question, “Am I hungry? Or is this a craving? Am I just after the sugar rush/caffeine hit?”

I know it sounds silly, but it will help you start to really pay attention to what your whole body and mind is trying to tell you.

The solution is not to get a grip on your willpower, but to look at your “primary foods”.

What we call “primary foods” aren’t actually foods at all – they’re the areas in your life that nourish you from a deeper level. Take a look at your life from a whole, zoomed out view. Your relationships, job, physical activity and even spirituality play a large part in your overall health. What are the areas of your life where you feel weighed down and heavy?

And next, take a look at your cravings.

Are you craving energy or withholding an opportunity to move your body? Experiment with going to the gym in your lunch break and note if this helps with concentration, lessen distraction and curb food cravings.

Are you craving sugar? Let this be an indicator that perhaps your need to rediscover sweetness in your life. Get out into fresh air, wake up early to catch the sunrise, chat to people who make you smile and are pleasant to be around.

The key here really is to become more aware of superficial cravings. If you don’t realise your genuine primary needs, you put your body in a state of “primary food” deprivation where you quiet literally are feeding your body food it doesn’t actually want.

Taking a look at your life from a holistic view helps you identify your challenges from all areas of life, not what is challenging you on the plate.

Your body is your friend, and when we clarify what is really important in our lives, the baseline of life is revealed.

Post originally appeared in The Juice Daily