Food cravings are the egos way of sabotaging our health goals. Even the most disciplined health fanatic can be immobilised by a strong urge to eat when faced with an overwhelming craving. It is important that we distinguish a food craving from normal hunger. A craving happens when you are generally satiated but feel an overwhelming urge to eat a specific food usually a source of high sugar/high fat and or salt.
I understand that food cravings can be damaging to your self-esteem as you beat yourself up for being weak – so not true. This post will focus on 4 steps to taking back your food freedom. Read on, to heal your appetite and move towards achieving your healthy eating goals. I also have a free special offer you will want to take advantage of today.
1. Cravings linked to a nutrient deficiency
You may crave a product in response to a nutrient deficiency and this is perfectly normal, for instance, you may crave chocolate because you are deficient in magnesium, mushrooms, meat or wheat based products if you are low in B vitamins. Becoming in tune with your body and listening to your food cravings can be a healthy way of consuming a balance of nutrients. Having the right balance of nutrients can affect how you feel and perform, for example, studies show that learning is impaired when a person is low in iron or mood and energy levels are significantly affected when a number of nutrients are out of balance.
This is the first way you can tackle your cravings. Complete the nutrient deficiency assessment here:
2. Cravings linked to a food allergy or intolerance
One of the first questions you would expect from your registered nutritionist would be ‘Which food would you find it most difficult to live without?’ This can be extremely useful and the response may include one of the following: bread, sugar or milk. If you can relate to this type of craving, the best action to take is a 30-day elimination of the specific food. Record how you are feeling during your elimination period. A tell tale sign you may have an intolerance or allergy is a quick weight loss as a result of taking this one food type out of your diet.
3. How’s your gut garden?
We are made up of more bacteria than we are human cells. It fascinates me we have spent years trying to kill off not only the pathogenic (killer) bacteria – for good reason – (without the support of antibiotics we would not be living free from the worries of surviving through a simple fever!) but also the commensal (helpful) bacteria. Each time we take antibiotics, we also destroy the bacteria that are helping to keep optimal immunity and brain health. New science shows us that we actually could be eating what our bacteria want us to consume, linked to the types of bacteria in the intestinal area (gut flora) e.g. unhealthy bacteria = junk food and sugars and multiple strains of healthy bacteria thrive with prebiotic foods which include vegetables and fruits. You can think of your gut, as a garden, is yours full of weeds or lovely flowers?
We now know that obesity is linked to our gut health from the experiments performed in transplanting obese gut flora into the lean mice which resulted in them quickly storing fat (1,2,3). Further studies have linked IBS, allergies, autoimmune disorders, depression, anxiety and heart disease with poor gut health. Consuming more fibre will support a healthy gut flora. However, just consuming more fibre or just taking a probiotic a day, could be compared with a tiny drop in the ocean. To get to work on improving your gut health will require a reduction in sugars, processed foods, an increase in vegetables and fruits along with taking a high strength probiotic daily. Forming habits will see you reap rewards in your overall health and will change the way you feel, perform and look.
4. emotional cravings
My own journey has led me into the study of conscious eating or rather the psychology of the way we view and consume food. When we think of our childhood rewards and good times food is always a factor. Furthermore, good and bad are words we use to describe our food choices.
I have studied nutrition intensely for 9 years and not a day goes by when I am not reading or listening to a scientific study, book or podcast. My study of how habits are formed began a little later but have supported my habits and enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, even I have my share of food cravings which led me to delve further to understand why. If it isn’t a nutrient deficiency and you have adopted a sturdy health routine, resulting in you feeling great and suffering very little in terms of illness – what then?
In a world where we are so busy being busy and caring for others, often putting our own needs last listening to our bodies is a foreign concept. This is why mindfulness and conscious eating have become a joint phenomenon. Learning to find peace, and quiet the mind can help you feel what is it you really need.
“Chocoholism is a cry for love, intimacy, and romance” Doreen Virtue PhD
When I discovered a study of what specific food cravings mean I was hooked. I had long since left my sugar addiction behind, but every now and again as I had overworked to exhaustion I would be overcome with a craving for peanuts. Funnily enough, the studies were pointing to a feeling of a lack of fun – too right!
The most prolific craving, although mostly for women is chocolate, also common for the most romantic of men as it is nearly always linked to love (as long as you are not deficient in magnesium as mentioned earlier). Different food types including chocolate are suggested to be linked to different things for example crunchy textures are often associated with frustration or anger in the area of love.
I would love to help you with any food cravings you may have and so if you contact me via email with your specific food cravings before the 30th May 2016, I will email you back personally with an explanation and a 2-minute exercise you can do to help release the craving.
I look forward to corresponding with you!
Lots of love and health,
References and useful books:
4. Constant craving by Doreen Virtue PhD
5. A course in weight loss by Marianne Williams