February 7


Thirteen Surprising Sources of Food Cravings

By Sue Ingebretson

February 7, 2012

boredom, Cravings, deficiencies, drama, Exercise, habit, hugs, meditation, micro-nutrients, prayer, protein, sleep, Stress, water


Today’s post is quick and powerful. It’s likely that you’ve experienced unhealthy food cravings here and there. But … do you know why? Check out the Sources of Food Cravings list below and watch out — some sources might surprise you!

1) Thirst or dehydration

2) Micro-nutrient deficiencies

3) Personal physical contact lack or deficiencies (i.e. hugs, touches, affection…)

4) Binging or “falling off the wagon” with empty calorie “foods” the day before

5) Relationship worries or drama

6) Boredom or lack of focus (eating gives us something to DO right now!)

7) Avoidance/procrastination (eating allows us to avoid or put off what we don’t want to DO right now!)

8) Lack of regular exercise/fitness routines

9) Lack of regular stress relieving routines (prayer/meditation/deep breathing, etc.)

10) Emotional stress/reaction to a specific current event or incident

11) Habit

12) Lack of protein

13) Fatigue or lack of restorative sleep

Once you understand the source of your cravings, you can predict how and when they may occur. In other words, you can stop them in their tracks. You’ll be able to ….

Stop your cravings now!

Look for more in-depth information on these thirteen topics in future posts. And, have I told you lately that I love your feedback? Well, I do! Which item(s) on this list would you like to hear about most?

Tell me what you want to hear about and let me know what’s the source of your cravings!

    1. Me too, Gerry which is why it interests me so much! We typically crave/overeat/binge – whatever, when we’re experiencing an imbalance of sorts elsewhere. Takes a bit of tinkering to figure it out!

      1. But,,,,what if you REALLY,REALLY, love sweets ??? Because I do !! And I have used the “healthy” sweetener, Steviiea. and like the others, awful !! It leaves an after taste. And I eat lots of fruit. Which is also adding sugar and calories. So what should I do to not like sweets ?

        1. Brenda – I love this question and it takes an answer that is more than I can give here, but the bottom line, is that when we give the body what it’s REALLY looking for – which is vital nutrition – we won’t crave stuff that it doesn’t need. Eating dark, green leafy veggies is the FASTEST way to crowding out sweet cravings. Happy to chat more if you’d like to email me on my website – and thanks for the great question!

  1. I understand and actually relate with about half or more from your list. One of the biggest reason I eat proper choices, improper choices, when I am a little hungry and when I am not hungry at all is the lack of physical contact. I am married to my husband of 41 years. He has never been big on being demonstrative or affectionate. Hand holding, hugging, or even a soft pat on the shoulder have never been on his agenda no matter how many times I have asked him for them and now have all but disappeared. We live apart from our other family members, but in the same area. They do not drop by, come over or invite us. We do not invite ourselves to their houses and my husband is just happier without anyone else in his life. I, on the other hand, am finding more and more I am horribly unhappy with the lack of physical contact with other humans. We are both disabled. Please do not suggest I volunteer as it would be physically impossible for me to do almost anything for more than a few minutes at a time. However if you have a reasonable suggestion I have not thought of, please share it with me. I can actually feel myself dying inside from this coldness. Until a few years ago we had our grandchildren around frequently, and I was still able to drive and socialize as I chose. I do not have access to those options now. It seems to me that I am doing less and less and feeling unable to do more on a daily basis. I am certain the lack of physical contact has a considerable amount to do with this having always been a socially active person until recently.

    1. Shelley – thanks so much for being so open and candid with your experiences. I’m certain that many, many others share your feelings, so please know that you’re not alone. It’s strange that in a society where we connect more and more through virtual pathways we feel further away from others in a real and tangible way. I wish I did have a great solution for you on the physical contact side of things. My only thought on that front is to wonder if you have a pet or have access to “sit” for someone else’s pet. Our wonderful animals can provide us with far more unconditional love (and physical loving contact!) than we may get from our other human sources. That said, I did hear you say that you are disabled and I understand that. I’m aware, however, that there are always ways to improve our mobility issues. Three steps today can turn into four steps tomorrow. Simply walking around your home can help to elevate your mood (as well as improve your digestion, blood flow, etc.). Is there anyone (online or otherwise) that you can call on to be an accountability/support buddy? Sharing your concerns with another is a fantastic way to boost your own activities and challenge yourself to try new things. Please let me know how you’re doing!

  2. I have a tendency to forget to drink enough water. I definitely recognize #1, thirst, as a trigger for snack binges. It’s interesting how many different aspects of our lives can contribute to food cravings. More evidence for taking an integrative approach to health and wellness to reduce something as specific as overeating. Thanks!

  3. No surprise, I like talking about your second item as a source of cravings: Micro-nutrient deficiencies. Or, as I would put it, Nutritional deficiencies. I once heard that if you don’t eat enough vegetables, your body will crave sugary foods to try to counter the general lack of vitamins in the diet. It’s kind of tough to go make a salad when I really want chocolate cake, though!

    1. You’re absolutely right! Nutritional deficiencies/micro-nutrient deficiencies do create cravings. The body knows what it needs and gives us the hunger pangs as reminders. I love this topic and spend quite a bit of time on it in lectures and I look forward to digging in on a future post!

  4. First of all… just read your “Ask Sue” column in the Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE, thank you for that… I tend to get frustrated that I don’t feel well, but I forget to make the connections between my emotional state, the food I’ve eaten, etc.
    This is a powerful list… many things come to mind as I peruse it, but I think #11 Habit plays a large part in my life. I’m big on routine as a way to control my stress, and stay healthy, but I don’t make enough of a habit out of exercise and stress-releaving activities (#8&9). I “think” that I am too busy and instead waste time watching TV or playing on the computer. The fact is… I have not made a habit out of these good things and instead have “bad habits” filling up my time. The mind, and habits of the mind, are very tough to change (old dog-new tricks). I will do well for a day or even a week, and then I falter and feel like a failure which doesn’t help the situation at all!

    1. Cathy — thanks so much for the comprehensive comment! You’ve hit many nails directly on the head. Isn’t it interesting how we collectively have so many similar symptoms, so many similar experiences, yet we deal with them alone and in isolation? That’s why I love this forum as well as my news/views facebook page (www.Facebook.com/FibroWHYalgia). It’s great to share our experiences so we get a better understanding of what helpful tips are working for others. Sharing our successes is a great way to encourage and prosper on a greater level. Again, for the very reasons you’ve outlined (“I do well for a day or even a week, and then I falter and feel like a failure…”) it’s vital that we share how we feel.

      Because I have the wonderful opportunity to coach many clients back to health, I’m able to witness (and be their cheerleader!) improved health day by day. That’s why health coaching works. I get to help my clients celebrate their successes and help them to move forward. I’ll talk more about this in future posts, so in the meantime — thanks for sharing and please feel free to ask me questions either here or through the Ask Sue column in the Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE magazine!

  5. I’m intrigued by #4, about falling off the wagon the day before. I feel most successful with changing food habits when I adopt a gentle approach and am able to forgive myself if I slip up. With that in mind, I’ll be thinking of this point the day after a “slip up,” when I might find myself caving to a craving again. I’ll remind myself that I sort of set myself up for a second one — so, forgiving once is fine, but not over and over! Thanks for these thoughts. I look forward to reading the more in-depth stuff, too.

    1. Eleanor — aren’t you the smarty pants! No one else noticed that I slipped that on in there. I expected others to ask about it. I’ve recently learned that it’s common to find yourself craving the very food that caused you to stumble the day before. It makes sense. I find this is true for me. I might choose to have something that I don’t typically have. Having it once in a while isn’t the problem. But I’ve noticed that I have a small portion on the day I “choose” to have it (notice the importance of my choice!), but then feel completely overwhelmed or overruled by other factors later. It’s typically the following day.

      This isn’t just me. I found that others have noticed this phenomenon, too. So, like most things, forewarned is forearmed! If you choose to have an indulgence, get rid of the leftovers and be extra kind to yourself the following day 😉 Eat well, be well….

  6. Sue – it occurs to me that for each of these 13 potential reasons for making poor food choices, we could “crowd” them out by trying to more consistently make good choices, with the deliberate purpose of not leaving room (crowding) out the potential for making poor choices. I know it’s easier said than done, but if our intention, 24/7, is to make the good choices to not leave room for the less good choices, perhaps making the less good choices won’t be as tempting. Does that make sense? I’d love to chat with you about doing a guest post on my gluten free diva blog about this topic. Let me know if you’re interested. Thanks!

    Ellen Allard
    Gluten Free Diva

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson