What Do My Food Cravings Mean? Plus 4 Tips for Satisfying Cravings

What Do My Food Cravings Mean? Plus 4 Tips for Satisfying Cravings

A stack of peanut butter cups sits on a pink plate.

Do you struggle with food cravings? You’re not alone! This is something that comes up pretty often in coaching sessions with patients and is one of my favorite topics to discuss. With just a little mindset shift and training ourselves to pause, cravings will no longer be something we dread!

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What do my food cravings mean?

Most people associate cravings with guilt, shame and loss of control. I would like to shift that narrative and offer that cravings are actually a good thing! Cravings are information for us, to  help us understand what our bodies need. The key is tuning in and listening for cues to help us figure out what direction to take.

When we have cravings, our body is trying to tell us something. One really useful strategy to start getting used to is pausing and asking ourselves, what is my body trying to tell me? What do I need right now?

A lot of times, cravings come on when we are stressed, tired, overwhelmed, bored, frustrated, or feel some sort of void. Since food is so accessible and convenient, we often turn to it instead of tuning into what our bodies actually need.

RELATED: Sugar—a quickstart guide.

Primary vs. secondary foods

There are two types of foods to consider here: primary and secondary. Secondary foods are the actual foods we put into our mouths every day. Primary foods, however, are not foods at all but they have the potential to nourish or deplete us.

Primary foods include things like our relationships, careers, social circles, creativity, finances, joy, overall health, and physical activity. When one, or many, of these areas are out of balance, we won’t be able to feel our best. This is a concept I speak to my patients about often. 

RELATED: How to hone your time management skills to reach your wellness goals.

What do primary foods have to do with food cravings?

So what do primary foods have to do with cravings? When we are ‘craving’ something, it’s typically not actually the food that we’re craving! We usually have some sort of primary food area that is out of balance, or needs some attention.

So how can you identify if the craving is food-related or if something is out of balance elsewhere?The next time you feel a craving coming on, try to deconstruct it and get to why it’s actually happening. Pause, take a deep breath and ask yourself what you really need in that moment.

Try to see if you can figure out the root cause of your craving and address it instead of immediately imbibing whatever ‘food’ you were ‘craving.’ Perhaps you need a hug, to rest, to move, to vent, to connect with a loved one, or maybe you’re just thirsty.

If you still feel a strong craving for a particular food, try crowding out that food with something a little healthier. The key to being able to do this is by being prepared in advance. If you stock your pantry and fridge with healthier options, it will be a lot easier to grab those. A few tips to help you be prepared:

  • Wash, cut and prep any fruits and veggies you grab from the grocery store and store in airtight containers in your fridge. When you’re feeling hungry or craving something, let those be your go-tos.
  • Have things like hummus, guacamole or nut butters on hand to have with your fruits and veggies (these will keep you fuller for longer and are delicious!).
  • Have healthier store-bought snacks on hand. Some of my favorite brands are Siete, Lesser Evil and Larabars or RX bars.
  • Keep dark chocolate around for a quick way to satisfy a sweet craving.

If after you’ve tried all these tips and you’re still craving something sweet (or salty or sour), there’s nothing wrong with that! You’ve been mindful about your eating habits, which means you can consciously make that choice and fully enjoy the experience. The most important thing is to develop the ability to tune into our body’s cues and do our best to get to the root cause of our cravings.

How to Hone Your Time Management Skills to Support Your Wellness Goals

How to Hone Your Time Management Skills to Support Your Wellness Goals

As a health coach, one of the most common areas I find patients struggling with is honing their time management skills. Patients tell me all the time that they would love to get consistent with certain wellness practices or achieve goals related to their health, but when it really comes down to it, time is a huge obstacle. Most of us lead really busy lives with lots of different obligations and responsibilities, so it makes sense that time would be a barrier to achieving goals.

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How to hone your time management skills

However, sometimes our perception of time is where the problem lies. Sometimes, we feel busy but when we actually look at our to-dos in a more structured way, we realize that there are plenty of things that waste our time and perhaps we are not using our time as productively as we could be.

Most of us have the right intentions to do things that will support our well being, but finding the time to do it is a whole different story! It is normal to feel overwhelmed, especially in our society today that is go-go-go. One feels that there’s not enough time to breathe, let alone accomplish goals! So how can we start to feel like we have more control over our time and actually implement the things that are meaningful to us? Here are some tips to help get you started.

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Time management tips from a health coach

Make a list of your non-negotiables

These are things that are highest on your priority list and you would like to continue doing them on a consistent basis. These could be things related to your personal health, your family obligations, or acts of self care. Your priority list will vary from time to time so it’s a good idea to revisit this list every so often as things change in your life.

Create a routine

Try to schedule activities at the same day and time each week so you know what to expect and it becomes part of your routine.

RELATED: What is a health coach and what do they do?

Plan your week

Choose a time each week where you sit down and plan out how your week will go, what you’d like to accomplish, scheduling things into your calendar and figuring out what activities will support your goals. This doesn’t have to be a long and tedious process, just half an hour a week works!

Identify your top three goals for the week

Once you’ve identified your top three goals for that week, make a list of your weekly tasks that support these goals. What do you need to do to make sure these goals are met? Designate deadlines for these goals and make a note in your calendar. Schedule activities in your calendar (with start and finish times) that support achieving these goals and use a timer to stay on track.

Eliminate multitasking

I know, this is a tough one! It’s so tempting to try and do multiple things at the same time but if we try to focus on one thing at a time, we will be much more productive. It is difficult for some of us (especially when we have long to-do lists) to just focus on one thing at a time. A suggestion here is to set a timer for a reasonable amount of time (20-30 minutes, for example) and focus solely on that one task, eliminating distractions. Once the timer goes off, move on to the next task and focus on it solely for the allotted amount of time. This way, you have tackled more than one to-do and you will feel more accomplished.

Eliminate distractions

Across the board, I have heard from patients (and am definitely guilty of this myself) that their phones distract them the most! Mindlessly scrolling on Instagram can waste hours a day. Figure out a good balance with regards to social media and try to consciously put your phone down, or away from you, especially when you’re trying to get things done. 

Use an accountability partner

It is really helpful to have someone to check in with around your goals. This could be a family member, a friend or a health coach! Share  your goals with your accountability partner and figure out a way they can hold you accountable. Sometimes this is the missing piece for many of us!

Schedule downtime

Make sure that you’re scheduling in time to relax. Self care actually allows us to be more productive! Include activities that support your well being like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, prayer, reading, listening to something soothing, or connecting with loved ones.

Assess your approach

After you’ve tried this more scheduled approach, take time at the end of the week to think about how your week went. Are there areas that went well or didn’t go so well? Are there days that went better than others? What are some distractions that prevent you from accomplishing your goals? What interrupted you? When were you able to focus better? When did you feel most energized? What were stressors and how could you overcome them?

We all have the same 24 hours each day. We have the power to choose how we will spend our time and what areas are important for us to focus on. I hope these tips have helped you realize that you do have control over your time and that you can be productive and reach your goals! 

What Is a Health Coach and What Do They Do?

What Is a Health Coach and What Do They Do?

What even is a health coach? If you’ve been around the integrative medicine or wellness industry in the last few years, health coaching has become a popular addition to a well-rounded medical support system. But what do health coaches even do?

Many people have never worked with a health coach before, or even know what health coaches do, or what kind of impact they can have on their care. Let’s dive into that a bit and really explore how important a health coach can be in elevating your patient experience (from me, a certified health coach).

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What’s a health coach anyway?

A health coach is a trained expert in the field of nutrition and overall well-being, who offers clients well-rounded guidance for improving their health. Health coaches focus on the whole person, meaning and everything that affects you, including diet, stress, relationships, work, physical activity, spirituality, and more.

That’s why you’ll often see the words “integrative” or “holistic” in a health coach’s title. Instead of simply looking at the basics of your life to provide generalized diagnoses and advice, health coaches are trained to look into your sleep, diet, lifestyle habits, and more to get to the root cause of issues you may be struggling with—chronic or not. A good health coach takes a 360 degree approach to wellness, to provide the highest quality of care to patients. 

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What role does a health coach play in patients’ care?

Health coaches empower patients to figure out the “why” behind their goals, explore the motivations behind these goals, and guide patients to take steps to get super clear on their goals in order to achieve them. Learning these skills allows patients to make long-term, sustainable changes that will last a lifetime.

Holding a safe space for patients to be able to express their frustrations and celebrate their wins is also key role for health coaches. Health coaches walk alongside their patients in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, or trying to ‘fix’ them.

When a health coach holds space for someone, they open their hearts, offer unconditional support and let go of judgmental control. This allows patients to go at their own pace and explore ideas in a safe space.

Health coaches are also accountability partners that patients can rely on to help keep them on track with their progress, reassess goals and make changes whenever necessary. Having such a customized approach is crucial for patient success!

In summary, I like to explain the concept of a health coach to patients as someone who will hold your hand and be your partner on your health journey. Need help translating that 3-page treatment plan into digestible, actionable, prioritized steps? Want to get support on which things to do first, if you can’t do them all at once? Your health coach is here to help.

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How you can experience health coaching at MIMC

MIMC has a membership model that is really nice for patients to feel they have a whole team taking care of them as they navigate their health journey. A new piece to that membership model is health coaching sessions.

I have recently joined MIMC as their new health coach and I am thrilled to be working with amazing practitioners and patients. The core values of MIMC align so well with my personal values around health and wellness and it is truly an honor to be working with like-minded practitioners who care about their patients’ well being and prioritize personalized care. The integrative medicine approach is becoming more mainstream nowadays and it is so beautiful to see patients lean more towards this model of healthcare.

It is such an honor and privilege to be able to serve my patients as a health coach. I truly love my job and am energized by my patients. As a part of a team of Naturopathic doctors, I feel that patients are well taken care of and prioritized as individuals, not just patients of our practice. I hope to be able to serve you soon and have the pleasure of walking with you on your journey!