June 18, 2020 4 min read
We are all gifted with an innate body wisdom. This allows us to have a deeper connection to the great intelligence that has evolved in our bodies over generations.
During our day to day lives we function normally from travelling, working and even eating without paying almost any attention to our bodies signals. Perhaps apart from our stomach rumbles that we assume means we are hungry. However, if we pay close attention to our bodies and how they talk to us, we can determine if that stomach pain means that we are hungry, a sign of stress or even something more serious.
But the most important ways that you could practice body wisdom is by learning to understand what your body really wants to eat.
We are constantly surrounded by food recommendations of what is good for us and what is bad for us, so it can be a difficult path to navigate.
Typically unhealthy foods that consist of lots of sugar and salt and are generally processed can be very addictive. In fact, they can set up a dopamine response in your brain that means some people can actually feel withdrawals when trying to cut down on them. This means that it can be hard to understand what your body really wants rather than what you are personally craving.
By becoming more body wise you can learn to distinguish between what is actually hunger and what is something else such as boredom or stress, which are just some reasons why a lot of us head straight to the snack cupboard.
When we take time to think about what signals our body is sending us, we may discover that what we originally thought was hunger is perhaps instead a trigger that we misunderstood. By taking a step back and trying to understand these feelings we can learn how our body communicates with us and reward it with what it actually needs, rather than getting a quick fix from sugary cookies or salty crisps.
When we feel a craving for a specific food, this could be our bodies signalling a deficiency in a micro or macro nutrient. One of the most common is that chocolate cravings can indicate a magnesium deficiency.
As mentioned above, if you are craving chocolate it could be your body's way of signalling that you are in need of more magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that our body needs to help function properly. A deficiency could potentially cause symptoms such as migraines, irritability, insomnia and fatigue.
Instead of reaching for sugar filled chocolate, why not try a good quality dark chocolate instead? The best are those that are organic and above 70% cocoa, meaning that you get a great source of magnesium and also a chocolatey treat!
When it isn’t something sweet, a common craving is salty foods such as crisps and salty chips. This can potentially be a sign of your body needing sodium.
Some good healthier alternatives to salty crisps are nuts or popcorn. These tend to be higher in healthy fats and protein so will also leave you feeling fuller for longer! However, nuts can be high in caloric content so it is important to eat them in moderation.
You might be craving a bit bowl of comfort food such as cheesy pasta, but if you are craving carbohydrates this could mean your body is really looking for an energy boost.
There are lots of different types of carbohydrates, and it is important to say that they are not 'bad' foods. Both our brain and body's main source of energy comes from carbs. Choosing simple, overly processed carbs like white pasta or white bread can leave you feeling satisfied, but only for a shirt period of time.
If you are craving carbohydrates why not try reaching for more fibre rich carbs that leave you fuller for longer? Some tasty options are smashed avocado on wholegrain toast, baked sweet potatoes or hummus on wholegrain crackers!
Although we can learn to make conscious choices by becoming more body wise and giving our body the nutrients it is craving, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a little treat from time to time.
Healthy swaps can often be difficult to turn into routine, especially when you think about how easy it is to grab a bag of crisps compared to baking kale chips in the oven for 10 minutes. So it is really important to be kind to yourself when you do have a treat.
Everything in moderation is key. So if you do fancy something a little bit more unhealthy don’t feel bad. Just perhaps prepare more nutrient rich foods in advance so they are on hand. Overnight oats are great to make and keep in the fridge, or why not roast some chickpeas to keep so you can have a salty alternative?
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