Fall Carb Cravings

By Cheryl Wasserman, MA, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Can you feel the difference in the air? Are you noticing changes in animals’ behavior? Are you aware of the subtle signs that Fall has arrived?

There’s a not so subtle sign that my clients notice this time of the year: Are you craving carbs? And, if so, is that freaking you out?

During the summer most clients report that they’re full of energy. They enjoy being out in the sunshine, exercising, gardening, etc. They’re attracted to eating “lite”. Salads are very appealing and satisfying. Life is good.

And then, “all of a sudden,” they’re sluggish, wanting to take naps, and finding themselves digging out recipes for heavy stews, chili, desserts that they have traditionally made in the Fall. They’re craving carbs. “What is wrong with me, they ask. They panic, “Oh, no, I’m going to become a fat slug!” Can you relate to this?

Another sign that you may have noticed is that the intensity of the daylight has changed. It’s as if the dimmer switch is turned on.

Squirrels are beginning their nutty Fall behavior of racing all over trees, hoarding nuts to get them through Winter.

In mid-September I noticed that the hummingbirds that had frequented my feeder, were frantically drinking in order to “gas up” for their long migration south for the winter.

These are signs that winter is on its way in the natural world. So, just like bears and ground hogs, our bodies sense subtle Fall changes. We appear to be evolutionally hardwired to crave high caloric foods to build up our fat reserves so that we can survive the long, cold winter ahead of us. What food type does that best? Carbs, lots and lots of them. So that’s why we are instinctively drawn to them. The thought of carbs keeps coming up over and over again in our minds, tempting and tormenting us.

What to do?

Bring mindfulness to this process of craving. We no longer need to store up fat in this way, but the craving is natural. Knowledge is power.

Try sitting with the craving, breathing into and out of the sensations. The thoughts your mind is creating to urge you to eat are just thoughts. You don’t have to act on them.

You can substitute another comforting action such as curling up with a nice, hot cup of tea or writing in your journal.

Published in The Healthy Planet, October 2011 Issue. A publication of St. Louis' Green & Healthy Living Magazine.

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