Food Cravings: Your Body Is Talking, Listen!

Coaching l Lose weight l NLP for Weight LossDid you know that a craving for chocolate is similar to a craving for heroin, as the same brain regions are involved during both types of cravings?

Three regions of your brain: the hippocampus, insula, and caudate, related to emotions, memory and reward, are activated with both cravings!

Rather than satisfy hunger, sugary, fatty or salty foods stimulate the brain to crave more of the same. According to Dr. David A. Kessler, a Harvard-trained physician, regular consumption of these foods alters your brain chemistry in such a way that stimulates not only cravings, but overeating.

 

Cravings often mean that your body wants or needs something to take the place of a lacking nutrient or something missing from your diet

Physically, you could have a medical condition that makes you crave salts and sweets, or your diet could be too restrictive and your cravings are a sign from your body that it needs certain nutrients. Mentally, you could be experiencing cravings due to physical or emotional stress. Ironically, giving into cravings for unhealthy foods can play havoc with your nutrient levels, and therefore stimulate feelings of anxiety, frustration and guilt. So, it’s a lose-lose situation we need to manage!

Understanding what your body is trying to tell you through the cravings you have can help you get things under control. So, if you crave:

 

SALTY FOODS

You may have a mineral deficiency. Studies show that women who eat low calcium diets want salty foods more than those who get enough of the bone builder, says Michael Tordoff, PhD, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia.

Sodium is an electrolyte and an important element in how your body controls blood pressure and blood volume. Low levels of sodium in the blood can directly affect the nervous system and the overall function of your muscles. Sodium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood, which tricks the body into thinking the problem is solved. But, you may have a shortage of other minerals too. In animal studies, researchers have found that a lack of potassium, calcium, and iron causes test subjects to devour table salt.

A good quality vitamin and mineral supplement could help manage cravings for salty foods.

 CHOCOLATE

Chocolate stimulates the release of the hormone Serotonin in the brain. It’s basically an antidepressant in treat form that your body instinctively seeks out when you’re not producing enough happy chemicals and you need a quick lift. Sorry, your body is not really asking you for chocolate, it’s asking you to do something that makes you feel good, i.e.: think of happy memories, watch a funny movie, tell a joke, work out…

SWEETS

If you crave sugar, it could be that your blood glucose levels are low.  This tends to happen if do not eat on a regular basis (every 3 hours).

You’re looking to boost your mood, or it could be that you’re just low in energy. The body absorbs refined sugars (candy) faster than any other type of food, giving you immediate fuel. But watch out for the crash! It will happen within an hour or so and it will leave you back where you started, or worse!

 SWEET & SALTY

Your body needs glucose and sodium to function properly, so when you get tired you reach for the chocolate covered popcorn, or a chocolate bar with crisps, to rev yourself up. Only you’re body is not really asking you for those… but for a healthy meal packed with nutrients.

 SPICY FOODS

If you’re having trouble cooling down, your body may crave spice to make you perspire. This may seem counterintuitive, but it helps explain why Mexican food is eaten in places where it’s scorching hot. Research also suggests that people become addicted to the rush of spicy food: the spiked blood pressure, accelerated heart rate, and rapid breathing.

PMS AND CRAVINGS

Premenstrual syndrome, a condition in which symptoms of food cravings, mood changes, energy and hormone level fluctuations occur up to two weeks before the menstrual cycle. Chemical changes in the body, along with stress and emotional issues can trigger food cravings.

Frequent or too intense cravings may be a reflection of an emotional or physical condition that requires treatment. However,  as a general rule, following a healthy diet, staying well hydrated and eating at regular intervals will help.

Allow yourself to indulge in pleasurable foods on a moderate basis (once a week) to avoid feelings of deprivation. Managing stress levels with exercise, meditation or therapy can also help reduce emotional eating.

DETOXIFY YOUR LIVER

The liver is where fat is metabolised and where all the toxins we eat, drink and rub onto our bodies end up, so it’s a good idea to give it a good cleanse now and again, a re-boot, to ensure optimal function.

  • Replace grains with lots of broccoli, cauliflower and lots of dark leafy greens for a week
  • Eat garlic, chives and leeks, and citrus fruits, such as lemon and lime
  • Take a good quality Vitamin B complex and 1,000 mg a day of chromium picolinate
  • Invest in a colonic hydrotherapy session and a liver detoxing coffee enema

 

Listen to your body: emotional hunger is sudden, physical hunger is gradual

Please feel free to post any comments or questions in the Facebook comment box below 🙂

Anna

Comments

  1. Wow, another great post Anna, I have read Dr. David A.Kesslers book end of overeating, you give great solutions to work with the problem of overeating. Can I ask if there is a multi-vitamin that you would recommend I take. And also, with regards to the above reference to PMS – what are your thoughts on the contraceptive pill to control this among other hormonal issues I have?

    Thanks for your time,
    Clea.

  2. Hi Clea,

    Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post! I don't take a multivitamin per se. I take Nature's Answer's Omega-3 oil daily, as well as Phil Richard's Alkalising Salts and Goodness Greens, and Aliment Nutrition's Vital C (vit C). Regarding the contraceptive pill, I avoid taking non natural chemicals, as they are toxins the brain and the body have to deal with, so personally I don't recommend it as a method to regulate hormones. There is a healthier way to do this through food and natural supplementation.

    Anna

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