February 20, 2024

#21: Cravings Unraveled: Strategies to Interpret, Manage, and Conquer Emotional Eating

If you’ve ever had cravings during pregnancy, postpartum, or your period, you’re not alone. Times of physical stress influence our metabolism and cravings are a way to understand how our metabolism is doing! In today’s episode, we explore the psychology behind emotional eating and learn practical strategies to manage and conquer cravings. Discover how to navigate cravings in the moment and create habits that can help minimize them altogether. Whether you're craving salty snacks, sweet treats, or something in between, there’s a reason why and a solution to fix it!

About this episode

What you'll learn

  • What cravings mean and what your body is trying to tell you
  • 3 things you shouldn’t do when a craving hits
  • A simple framework that will keep you in control of your body and emotions no matter what craving you have
  • 8 different types of cravings, why you might be experiencing them, how to handle them in the moment, and how to minimize them in the future
  • Bonus tips for what to do when you feel disconnected from your hunger cues
  • The best thing you can do to keep your hunger hormones regulated and avoid cravings altogether


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Grab my free high protein meal plan HERE


Cravings are NOT the problem

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced cravings before? Good, your hand should be raised. If not, you need to email me ASAP and tell me what your superpower is because that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.

Okay, all jokes aside, today’s episode is all about decoding your cravings. Whenever I talk about nutrition related to pregnancy or breastfeeding, I always get comments along the lines of “this is great but all I want is xyz” or “I wish my body wants healthy foods all it craves is xyz” or “I always know my period is coming because I crave xyz.” Sound familiar?

Turns out cravings are just your body trying to communicate with you! Shocker, I know. But most women either don’t realize this or they don’t understand what the cravings mean and what to do about them. In fact, cravings often get the blame for our poor nutrition, whether it’s feeling out of control, gaining weight, or not choosing nourishing foods.

Now, because I’m your friend, I’m going to give you the cold, hard truth: cravings are not the problem, they’re the message. You’ve heard the phrase, “don’t shoot the messenger,” I’m sure; well this is a perfect example.

Instead of blaming your cravings and being angry at the cravings, recognize that your body is trying to communicate with you in the most effective way possible. Take a breath, dig deep, and be curious. Why do you feel the way you do?

I promise it will not only ease your mind but completely change the way you approach your health and nutrition. In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you the science behind your cravings, what to do about them, and some personal hacks I’ve been using for years to manage them. And no, it’s not to drink water or chew gum. This isn’t the 90s.

Really quickly, I want to give a shoutout to @itskalanoy for her review on episode 18: “After listening to your superfood episode I went out and bought some chia seeds and blueberries to add to my oatmeal. I had that for breakfast today felt amazing then I had a donut for a snack and instantly felt less amazing. Just wanted to share that the power of food is real and thank you for being a resource for me as I go into my new mama era.” Thank you mama for being willing to take my advice! I hope you continue to see real results from the things I share.

If you are listening today and find this episode helpful, please share it with a friend and leave a review! Your shares and reviews help the podcast grow so we can get amazing guests, incredible sponsors, and more mamas in our corner.

Cravings are communication

Before we dig into today's conversation, I want to give some disclaimers and some context to what you're about to hear. Researchers, scientists, and dietitians don't have a ton of cold, hard explanations about why we experience certain cravings, but they do have some plausible theories. Most of what you're going to hear today is theories with evidence-based suggestions or solutions.

What's cool though is that no matter if you're just a regular woman, a pregnant lady, or a new mom, the why behind cravings is the same. You might have different food cravings at different times, but the reason is the same.

So like I mentioned earlier, cravings are a way that your body communicates with you. They are a signal that your body needs something specific and your body trusts you to figure out what that is and treat accordingly. Isn't that cool? I want you to remember that: your body trusts you. 

I talk about this in episode 6, but you know the phrase “trust your gut?” Well my friend Steve challenged us to flip the script and say “my gut trusts me” and I think that applies to cravings, too. 

Our bodies have our best interest in mind 100% of the time and they trust that we are going to take care of ourselves. When something is wrong, our body creates symptoms to get our attention and ask for help. Sometimes we know how to help, and sometimes we have to do some investigative work.

Bottom line, cravings are just symptoms that our body is lacking something whether it be nutritionally, mentally, or in some cases, emotionally. Some common causes of cravings include blood sugar imbalances, exhaustion, PMS, pregnancy, or lack of physical activity. When we learn how to decipher those communication signals, we are better able to make informed choices about how to treat the problem and help our body. 

Now, I know you’re thinking, “okay, you’re telling me that when I crave harvest cheddar Sunchips that actually means something?” Well, yes and no. You’re body doesn’t know the difference between Sunchips and popcorn, so your body isn’t saying “the only solution to my problem is Sunchips,” but something about the Sunchips is lending a clue to what your body needs, and to make sense of it, your brain came up with Sunchips. Does that make sense?

Same thing goes for chocolate on your period, burgers when you’re pregnant, or sugar when you’re breastfeeding. It’s not the actual food necessarily, but it’s something about those foods that your body probably needs and in order for your brain to make it make sense, it’s finding something you can relate to, like chocolate, burgers, and sugar.

Recognizing this process as communication is crucial for not only alleviating your cravings in the moment, but managing or minimizing them in the future too. 

So I want to talk about what NOT to do with cravings, the different types of cravings, and other situations where food represents emotions or unmet needs. Then, at the very end, I’ll share my #1 tip for all cravings, so be sure to listen all the way to the end for that.

What not to do with cravings

1) Ignore them

I hope you have learned through experience that this approach definitely does NOT work. It’s like when someone says “don’t think about elephants” and then you think about elephants. Ignoring your cravings will only intensify them and make you feel more frustrated and out of control.

And remember, your cravings are a method of communication between your body and your brain, so ignoring them tells your body that you don’t trust it. 

Instead of dismissing your cravings, acknowledge them, sit with them, and have a conversation with them.  Show your body that you recognize that a message is being sent and you aren’t afraid to receive it.

Now, I know this sounds a little fluffy, but your brain is so much more powerful than you realize. In fact, the most important relationship you will ever have in your life is with yourself, so by practicing trust and communication with your body, you are building confidence in your brain and that will influence everything you do.

2) Give in right away

This is the polar opposite of ignoring your cravings and it’s just as ineffective as ignoring them. In this case, it’s ineffective because you are giving the power to your cravings and letting your cravings be in control.

Remember, cravings are just communication. They’re a symptom, not a problem. When you choose to give in right away, you’re not trying to understand the message or the symptom, you’re just trying to get rid of the message as quickly as possible. Over time, if this habit continues, you’ll probably feel more disconnected from yourself and more out of control because you’re misunderstanding what your body is trying to tell you.

3) Binge

Now, you might be thinking “um, I don’t binge,” but we’ve all been there. Let me paint a scenario to show you what binging looks like specifically with cravings. 

It’s 9pm. You just got the kids in bed and you finally have time to breathe, be by yourself, and hear your thoughts. All of a sudden, you realize you’re craving ice cream and you remember that you have a pint of your favorite ice cream in the freezer.

“Ice cream isn’t healthy, though, so I’m going to have carrots and ranch instead.”

So you make a big plate of carrots and ranch. 10 minutes later, your plate is empty but your stomach is not satisfied. You’re still hungry and you’re still craving ice cream. So you think to yourself, “Ugh I’m so weak. I shouldn’t want ice cream, but I do. Why can’t I just crave healthy foods and be satisfied with healthy foods? I bet if I had a protein bar that would fix it.”

So you have a protein bar. 10 minutes later, you’re still hungry and you’re still craving ice cream. Now you’re desperate and hoping that “third time’s the charm” and you’ll stop wanting ice cream after having a small serving of the leftover roasted potatoes in the fridge. 

So you eat the roasted potatoes. 10 minutes later, you’re not hungry anymore but you’re still craving ice cream and now you’re so frustrated that you just give up. You resentfully grab the ice cream out of the freezer, plop down on the couch, and eat the ice cream out of the container with a spoon, zoning out and thinking about how exhausted you are.

You finally have your ice cream. But 10 minutes later, you look down and realize that the pint is almost gone and you feel sick!

Okay, first of all, this has literally happened to me more times than I would like to admit. Like this exact scenario. I promise I’m not perfect. I’m just like you. I struggle too. 

What I want to point out though is that the binging is the end of the example when you give up and just go to town on the food you’ve been convincing yourself you can’t or shouldn’t have and you end up eating more than you want or should and it’s because of restriction and a lack of self control rather than being mindful and intentional.

Is craving ice cream bad? No. Does it mean you’re weak? No. Is EATING ice cream bad? Absolutely not. What’s bad is the mindset in this scenario. If we’re being totally honest, it would’ve been better if you had just said, “wow ice cream sounds so good right now. I’m exhausted after a long day and I want my favorite ice cream to destress and re-regulate my emotions before calling it a night.”

But what happened instead is instead of enjoying your ice cream and only eating maybe 300 calories about it, you ended up resenting or hating yourself AND overeating by about 800 calories. If we’re making this a binary comparison using calories as a metric, I’m pretty sure 800 is less healthy than 300 in this scenario…

So bottom line, binging is NOT how to handle cravings. Binging comes from a negative mentality with food that is restrictive, shameful, and judgemental and it will always end poorly.

So what should you do about your cravings instead of ignoring, giving in right away, or binging? Let’s talk about the framework I use and the framework I teach my clients when it comes to navigating cravings.

The Cravings Framework: listen, ask, decide

First you want to listen to your mind: What is the surface level information you’re getting? Are you feeling like you need to eat a specific food? Are you irritable and hangry? Can you hear your stomach growling?

Once you identify the message, you need to dive deeper and ask questions: why is my body sending this message? Am I super thirsty? Am I stressed and needing some emotional comfort? Do I need a specific nutrient? Have I forgotten to eat recently? Am I unintentionally undereating? Am I cutting out entire food groups?

Once you can answer those questions, you can decide what to do. And this is key, because here you’re making an intentional, informed decision, rather than a mindless, reactive decision.

Is the best plan to eat exactly what you’re wanting? Or is it to find a nourishing option that checks the same boxes as your original craving? Or is it a combination of the two?

I’ll tell you right now that I’ve done all three options and the more you give yourself permission to think, evaluate, and trust yourself, the easier it becomes to make a decision. For example, when I was pregnant, I craved Taco Bell nacho cheese for a few weeks. Nothing I did could fix it. So I just had Taco Bell nacho cheese when I could. And it was wonderful. And for me, that was the right choice. I couldn’t explain why I needed THAT food, and I couldn’t think of anything similar that was more nourishing, so I just rolled with it.

But there was another time during pregnancy that I craved potato chips. I stepped aside and asked myself, “do I want the salt or the munchy or the grease or the potato?” I went through a couple iterations and realized that I was very dehydrated and my body probably thought if I had a salty food it would force me to drink more water. I also needed the electrolytes and I hadn’t had enough to eat that day, so my body was asking for quick calories.

So instead of potato chips, I made some homemade popcorn with Redmond Real Salt, a bit of grass-fed butter, and an electrolyte drink and had that instead prior to my meal. And you know what? It was exactly what I needed and I felt so much better. It’s not that the potato chips were BAD, there was just a better option to solve the underlying problem. Does that make sense?

Basically what I’m getting at is that analyzing your cravings helps you be proactive instead of reactive and it puts the power back in your hands, not your cravings. 

Again, this takes lots of practice, especially if you’ve struggled with chronic dieting or diet culture trends and have lost your intuition. Today’s episode is my effort to help you get some of that intuition back and not feel like a slave to your cravings anymore!

And if you want to learn more about intuitive eating, definitely check out episode 10 with my friend Brooklyn. She’s an intuitive eating coach and our conversation is life-changing. I’ll have that link in the shownotes.

So now, let’s dive into specific cravings and what your body might be trying to tell you.

Types of cravings

I thought about all the different cravings I’ve had in my life as well as examples from other women and grouped them together into different categories so we could recognize themes and make sense of it all.


Believe it or not, if you’re craving something salty, whether it’s popcorn, pretzels, pickles, or potato chips, this could be an indication that you have an electrolyte imbalance. (Remember, our electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.) Your body might be trying to tell you that it’s short on energy at a cellular level and/or that it’s dehydrated. And remember, being hydrated doesn’t just mean drinking lots of water, it also includes getting enough electrolytes.

So, if you find yourself craving something salty regularly, try incorporating an electrolyte drink at least once a day. If you’re already doing that, either increase your mineral rich foods or add a second electrolyte drink to your day. My favorite brands are Just Ingredients and Redmond Relyte and I have discount codes for both of them in the shownotes.

Now, that’s more of a preventative measure for the long term approach. In the moment, try pairing your salty food cravings with some protein or fat so give you that energy you need and keep your blood sugar steady. So if you want popcorn, have some beef jerky to go with it; if you want potato chips, make a turkey avocado sandwich with Dave’s Killer Bread; if you want pretzels, dip them in peanut butter or a greek yogurt dip. You see my point?


Ahhhh sugar. If I had a dollar for every time a mama complained about her sweet tooth, I could retire today. Believe it or not, there are a few different reasons why you’re craving sugar.

First, I want to remind you that sugar is the quickest form of energy for your body. It is also the technical term for carbs, so even savory foods like popcorn, bread, and pasta are viewed as sugar to your body.

For our conversation today, though, we’re talking about sweet sugar, like candy, ice cream, cookies, and so on. Or heck, even fruit.

Most of the time, you’re craving sugar because your body needs energy quickly. Maybe you haven’t had enough to eat all day, or maybe you’ve just gone too long without food. Your body knows that sugar is the fastest way to give you energy, so it latches onto thoughts of sugar. See how it’s not that you’re bad or you can’t control yourself, it’s just a safety mechanism your body has?

If THIS is the reason why you’re craving sugar, I would suggest eating real food first. (I know, I talked about avoiding ice cream in the binging example, but remember, we’re trying to address the underlying problem here, and in this case, it’s a lack of energy altogether, so we want to fix that in a healthy way.) Try having a small meal or a hearty snack and see if you feel better. When I craved sugar because I needed quick energy but I fixed the problem with real, nourishing foods, my sweet tooth went away.

Another reason you might be craving sugar is because you haven’t had enough protein. Protein is such a satiating nutrient and it helps regulate your blood sugar (aka glucose levels) so if you haven’t had enough protein, your blood sugar is unstable and it’s stuck in a negative feedback loop of using sugar to fix sugar crashes. 

The solution here would be to have a good source of protein, and I might even suggest a sweeter protein source like a chocolate protein shake with 2% milk. That way you’re still getting some sweet, but it’s natural sugars from dairy and the flavor of the chocolate, and you’re also getting vitamins, minerals, and 30 grams of protein.

The last reason you could be craving sugar is because you slept poorly the night before. And yes, this includes my moms with littles. If you’re getting interrupted frequently throughout the night or you have trouble getting/staying asleep, this affects your insulin levels, which impacts your blood sugar, which impacts your energy levels. And when your insulin response, blood sugar, and energy levels are unstable, all your body wants is the quickest solution, which is sugar.

Instead of beating yourself up about it, just recognize that this is a biologically normal response to poor sleep and do your best to work with it. Stay on top of your protein, don’t go more than 4 hours between meals, and keep up on your electrolytes. I promise it works. I have a toddler that gets nightmares frequently and a 3 month old baby and I don’t really struggle with cravings even though I’m not sleeping well because I know how to nurture my body through this phase of life.


Women and chocolate, am I right? I think the most common time that we crave chocolate is right before or during our periods or when we’re really stressed. I have two theories about why this is.

First one relates to our periods. Did you know that your caloric needs actually increase by about 150-200 calories per day during your period? This is because your body needs extra energy to shed the lining of your uterus, account for the blood loss, and rebuild your insides quickly and efficiently, all while trying to manage your hormones and daily activities.

In other words, your period is metabolically demanding and your body is trying to help you get more calories in to compensate. Most chocolate is high in calories due to the fat and sugar content, so this makes sense.

In addition, some chocolates are a good source of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that is required for more than 600 enzymatic reactions in the body, as well as cellular energy, and it’s one of the first nutrients to be depleted during times of physical stress, ie your period. 

So yay, there actually is some nutritional benefit to craving chocolate. BUT. Not all chocolate is created equal. If you think you’re craving chocolate for the extra calories and magnesium, you should choose a high quality chocolate that is made with good ingredients and has at least 70% cacao. I recommend Hu chocolate because there’s no refined sugar, no gums, no artificial ingredients, and it tastes AMAZING. It’s my favorite thing to have on hand when those chocolate cravings hit.

If you want to get ahead of your chocolate cravings, make sure you’re eating enough during the day and consider taking a magnesium supplement (my recommendation is in my Amazon storefront). If you’d rather enjoy the extra bit of chocolate, that’s totally fine too.

Now, if you find yourself craving chocolate when you’re mentally or emotionally stressed, this could be your body’s way of seeking emotional regulation through comfort food and that’s totally normal. I remember craving chocolate after studying for some really big finals in college for more than 10 hours in one day. By the time 9pm rolled around, I was absolutely exhausted and still incredibly stressed. I ended up eating more chocolate than I will admit here on the podcast, but the craving was very real and I laugh about it now looking back.


I’ve kind of touched on this a few times now, but if you’re craving carbs, it’s probably because your body is needing some quick energy. It could be because you haven’t eaten enough, you’re not getting enough protein, or you didn’t sleep well the night before.

We’ve already talked about salty carbs and sweet carbs, but some other carbs could be things like breads, rice, pasta, or even dairy products like milk or yogurt. No matter what type of carbs it is, it’s probably for the quick energy.

In the moment, try choosing a more nutrient-dense carb like chickpea pasta, higher protein breads like Dave’s Killer Bread, unsweetened greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, or even cooking your rice in bone broth. The goal is not to have naked carbs, but pairing them with something satiating like protein, fiber, and fat. 

If you regularly find yourself craving carbs, I suggest reevaluating your eating habits like how frequently you eat, how you build your plate, and whether or not you’re eating a hearty breakfast in the morning. 

Fatty foods

I’m going to give my husband credit for helping me understand this craving because for me personally, craving fatty foods like burgers, fries, and pizza has always bothered me. I’ve learned over the years that if I eat less of the processed foods, I don’t desire them as much, and over time I don’t really enjoy them anymore.

However, every once in a while, I CRAVE a fat, juicy burger with a pile of fries covered in salt. My husband helped me recognize that 99% of the time, these intense cravings for fatty food coincide with days when I’m so depleted physically, mentally, and emotionally that my tank is empty and my body is screaming for energy. But in this case, it’s not a quick energy like munchy carbs, it’s calorie dense foods with lots of fat and salt. 

When I started to notice the pattern, I was less upset with myself and more understanding. I thought to myself, “wow I’ve had an incredibly hard day, I need lots of help to recover” and I just leaned into that message. I thanked my body for having the courage to communicate with me even though it was running on empty.

I also recognized that for me personally, burgers and fries are a comfort food, so there’s also an emotional aspect to it. So now, when I’m craving fatty food, I sit back and think about the day that I’ve had and where I’m at emotionally and it makes sense. 

I remember one specific time we went out to dinner after a horrible day I’d had and all I wanted was the greasiest burger and fries I could find. I kid you not, when I took those first few bites, I literally felt my body relax. It was such a crazy thing to experience, but it taught me a lot about the power food has and how sometimes the healthiest choice IS fast food.

Now, another time you might crave fatty foods is when you’re pregnant, especially in the first trimester. If this is you, you might want fast food because it’s the only thing you can keep down or your body is begging for extra calories. This is not a bad thing. Just remember to apply the framework I talked about and mindfully choose how to navigate each circumstance. Sometimes fast food is the best option, and sometimes there’s another choice that’s the best option. Only you can decide, but it’s important that you are mindful about it.

Healthy foods

Believe it or not, it is possible to crave healthy foods and there are people out there that experience this particular craving. I think the most common scenario is when you’ve had lots of fast food or processed food on a vacation or lots of treats around the holidays and your body is just begging for nourishing, nutrient dense foods.

I’ve experienced this exact scenario many times and for me, it’s usually things like salad, vegetables, and fresh fruits. I’ve also craved fresh foods if I’ve eaten a lot of meat or bread multiple meals in a row.

I think this type of craving is the most intuitive in the sense that it’s pretty obvious why you’re experiencing it, so I don’t think there’s much else to say about it.

Red meat/non-food items

Usually, if you’re craving red meat, it’s a sign your body probably needs iron or vitamin B12. Both nutrients are important for red blood cell formation, which is how your body gets oxygen, and maintaining your energy levels. If you’re feeling sluggish and tired even with adequate sleep and hydration, you could be low in iron or vitamin B12.

Sources of red meat include beef, lamb, pork, and venison, and there are so many unique ways to enjoy these animal meats without eating a slab of steak every day. Think things like beef chili, pulled pork tacos (I have a recipe for that on the blog), steak stir fry, lamb stew, or even choosing ground venison in place of ground turkey.

You can also opt to cook in cast iron skillets and have a source of vitamin C along with your iron source to increase absorption.

Now here’s another craving that is both weird and extremely rare that indicates a need for iron: non food items. I’m talking things like ice, dirt, chalk, clay, and soap. Yes, believe it or not, this is a real thing (a very rare thing) and it’s called pica. If you find yourself in this situation where you literally find yourself wanting to eat dirt or drink laundry soap, call your doctor and go eat a steak.

Emotional cravings

The last category is a little tricky because it can be a reason for every craving we’ve talked about today but it’s not as explainable as the others. I’m talking about emotional cravings.

These cravings could be for almost anything and instead of communicating a nutritional deficiency, your body is trying to tell you it needs some TLC. Maybe you’re really overwhelmed with work. Maybe you had a fight with your spouse. Maybe you just had a really long, busy day. Or maybe you’re just pregnant lol. Whatever it is, your body is asking for emotional regulation through a comfort food.

For me, I’ve seen this manifest with ice cream, sour gummy worms, a really good curry with naan bread, burgers, and even Taco Bell nacho cheese. And when I sat down with myself to have a conversation, the only thing I could think of was that I was stressed and needed relief. And it’s been at all different times of life too! High school, college, my missionary service, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and just existing as a human. 

What I want you to really internalize is that experiencing cravings purely because you’re stressed or emotional is NOT bad. In fact, I would argue that these cravings are even more important to listen to because it goes way deeper than “I need xyz vitamin” or “hey you forgot to eat your carrots today”; it’s more about “hey we’re really struggling here and I know that this will help you calm down, regulate, and be a little happier.”

THAT is important. That is a message worth listening to. Food is more than just nutrition, although you know I talk about that all the time; food is also about culture, community, and connection, and trying to deny that or feel guilty about it just isn’t fair to you at all.

So next time you recognize that you have a craving just because you’re stressed, realize that, just like always, your body has your best interest at heart and is trying to help you in the best way possible. So embrace that craving, show yourself some love, and don’t dwell on whether or not it’s a “healthy food.”

Other situations

Wanting food but just ate

If you find yourself wanting more food even though you just had a meal or a snack, this means you did not eat enough food. Our body literally has hunger and fullness hormones to help you know how much energy you need and if you’re feeling hungry, there’s a reason for it!

One of the ways you can avoid getting stuck in this position in the first place is really taking time to eat your food. Chew slowly and completely; pay attention to how it tastes; take a drink of water for every two bites. When you are more mindful of your meal, you’re more likely to hear those hormones and know if you need more food before you get up from the table.

Wanting food but not hungry

So what if you aren’t hungry but you find yourself wanting food? I’m guessing you’re bored or stressed. Sometimes I find myself wanting to munch on something because I need to pass time or because I need an outlet for all my mental stress. If this is you, treat the problem not the symptom. If you’re bored, change the activity you’re doing or the place you’re in; if you’re stressed, practice some deep breathing and check off something really small and easy on your to-do list to get a quick boost of dopamine. Or hug your dog. Whatever helps you relieve stress in a healthy way!

Wanting food right before bed or waking up in the middle of the night

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a sin to eat food right before you go to bed. Your metabolism doesn’t know the difference between 6pm and 10pm, it just knows if there’s food in your system that needs to be digested and utilized. 

If you find yourself hungry right before going to bed, this means you didn’t eat enough food during the day and your body is trying to fix the problem before you fast for 8+ hours. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way that going to bed hungry is NOT a good idea.

One, this teaches your body that it won’t always get enough food and so it goes into starvation prevention mode. This means it feels like it can’t depend on you to get enough energy and can’t predict when the next meal is coming, so it will hang onto every calorie you give it and slow down your metabolism to make what calories you do eat last as long as possible.

Two, this sets your body up to have a massive blood sugar crash in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping. This usually happens around 2am-4am and explains why you wake up tired but wired and struggle to go back to sleep. 

You can do two things here: one, eat something high in protein and fiber right before bed, and two, have a small glass of milk and a handful of nuts if/when you wake up. I’m not kidding, mama, this works, especially if you’re pregnant.

One of my clients has struggled with her sleep for nearly a decade. She was exhausted by the end of the day but always woke up at 3 in the morning and could not fall back asleep. She took my advice about eating before bed and having a snack if she woke up. After a few weeks of doing this one thing, she said, “having had middle of the night sleep issues for so many years, I was shocked when I was able to fall back asleep after eating a small snack before bed and handful of nuts and ½ a glass of milk when I woke up in the middle of the night. This small and simple change in my habits has made it possible for me to get more sleep during the night instead of hours of restless awake time.”

Such a small thing made such a big difference for her! Now, I want to reiterate that this is a temporary fix and shouldn’t be your new normal, but it’s a great trick to have up your sleeve for those hard nights. 

But I’m also going to put an asterisk next to that and say that the exception to this “rule” is if you’re pregnant. Because pregnancy is a unique situation, I actually recommend consistently eating something small right before bed as a preventative measure. Your blood sugar is so much more unstable even if you’re doing all the right things, so I highly recommend having a Chomps stick, a hard boiled egg, full fat greek yogurt, or some milk and nuts before bed. It will make the inevitable pregnancy insomnia so much more manageable.

Always thirsty

This one is tricky but I have two different theories. One has to do with dehydration and the other has to do with overhydration.

Now the obvious theory is that you’re thirsty because you’re not drinking enough water. If this is the case, drink more water haha. But if you’re like me and you don’t like water, here are some tips:

  1. Use fruits, vegetables, and herbs to add some flavor and nutrients to your water
  2. Incorporate more water-dense foods like watermelon, zucchini, strawberries, pineapple, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peaches
  3. Have a daily electrolyte drink
  4. Consider buying coconut water or vitamin water that has some flavor and is fortified with vitamins and minerals
  5. Have a glass of milk with your breakfast

On the other hand, the less obvious theory is that you’re always thirsty because you’re drinking too much water. I’ve met some people that say “I drink a gallon of water every day and I’m still thirsty what’s wrong!” If this is you, I’m pretty confident that you’re still thirsty after all that water because you’re not getting enough electrolytes to match the amount of water you’re drinking. 

What do I mean by this? The fluid and electrolyte balance in our body is such a precise balance and if there’s too much water, you’re essentially diluting all the electrolytes and there’s not enough electrolytes to manage all the water. Now, you have too much water and your body doesn’t know how to use it properly, so you still feel thirsty because you can’t use the water you already have.

It’s similar to having so much folic acid in your body but you can’t metabolize it so even though there’s a bunch of folic acid floating around, your body actually doesn’t have any folate and you are severely deficient in folate. (I probably just opened a can of worms with that one, sorry)

So how do you drink enough water to avoid both dehydration and overhydration? A good place to start is by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. So if you’re like me and you weigh 125 pounds, I recommend drinking at least 65 ounces of water every day. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, do the same calculation and add 20-24 ounces.

A third possibility of why you’re always thirsty is that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If that’s you, just drink more water lol.

My #1 advice for managing cravings

We’ve had a long, in-depth discussion about every little detail about cravings. We talked about what not to do, what to do, a proven framework for handling cravings in the moment, all different types of cravings and why you might be experiencing them, and how emotions influence our eating habits.

The last thing I want to leave you with before we wrap up today is my number one tip for minimizing cravings altogether. This is something that will improve so many different aspects of your life and if you can really make it a consistent habit, you will feel incredible.

The best thing you can do to manage your cravings is prioritize protein at every meal, especially breakfast. I encourage my clients to aim for at least 30 grams of protein for every meal and 15 grams of protein for every snack. This not only helps with your cravings, but your blood sugar balance, brain fog, hormone regulation, and immune system.

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so when you get enough protein with your meal, you will feel fuller longer and have more sustained energy. This greatly reduces your chances of cravings because your body won’t be begging for quick energy in between meals. 

On top of that, if you’re eating enough protein with your meal, you probably have other nourishing foods on your plate too, like vegetables, healthy fats, or grains, which means you’re less likely to feel “low” on certain nutrients.

Now, am I saying you have to eat chicken or steak for every meal? Absolutely not. I don’t even do that! If you’re not sure how to increase your protein intake without eating meat for every meal or buying the entire grocery store, I have a massive blog post that teaches you everything you need to know about protein AND there’s a free two week meal plan to go with it. Over 9000 people have