You Shouldn't Ignore Food Cravings. Here's Why

Contrary to what society says, it's actually okay to give into your sweet tooth. In a world centered around diet culture, we're often told to say no to that second cookie or to have designated "cheat days." But according to experts like nutritionist Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, it's important to honor your cravings — ignoring them actually do more harm than good.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Diet culture has brainwashed society to label foods as "good" and "bad" to the extent that for some people, there's a stigma around enjoying carbs at more than one meal a day (via Goop). Eating the foods you love without feeling guilt can be quite difficult. But if it provides any blanket of reassurance, those who practice intuitive eating actually end up becoming less prone to overeating. This is because their bodies are satisfied after giving into their hunger cues, as the blog Fill Your Plate explains, so they can pick up where they left off after enjoying a sweet treat instead of fixating all day on it.

But what if I want to lose weight?

According to FitDay, listening to your cravings is actually essential in weight loss. Treating yourself every now again is important — after all, we're only human. Eating 100% "clean" all the time is nearly impossible, and allowing ourselves to have that Big Mac when we're craving McDonald's keeps us sane and motivated towards our fitness goals.

Furthermore, a craving for one food can also signal a potential need for a certain nutrient. Therefore, cravings are quite literally a signal for our body to refuel. If you're trying to avoid red meat but have a craving for a burger, perhaps turn to another source of iron or protein. But of course, remember that it's okay to have everything in moderation.

If that slice of cake is going to bring you even the tiniest bit of joy of a long workday, have it. Life is too short to restrict the foods we love.