Feeding Your Food Cravings - just you, or is it your body trying to tell you something?
I have always found it interesting that the cravings and desires we have in life, are often related to our emotions and feelings. And it’s easy for us to focus on an emotion when we have a craving and think, well I’m feeling lonely and ice-cream and chocolate are my only friends. Or I am feeling stressed and anxious, so I feel like a meat pie or a packet of potato chips. Sometimes though, there can be a lot more to it than that!
Chocolate, cocoa, or cacao has a compound called phenylethylamine PEA, which has a similar action to amphetamines, releasing dopamine and adrenalin, we also produce PEA when we are first in love/lust, giving us that floaty high feeling. But if we are feeling like we are essentially meeting our emotional needs, and we have avoided the problem/addictive food for some time, but still getting strong cravings, there may be another reason for these cravings. They may be stemming from nutritional deficiency, adrenal and hormone function, candida, or unstable blood-sugars. Cravings Let’s have a look at some nutrients, hormones, bacteria and cravings (these deficiencies if not long-standing, can often be remedied through picking up more of these nutrients through your diet, except for possibly magnesium, which can always be subtly supplemented)
SALTY FOODS – sodium/chloride deficiency – Adrenal irregularities, or possible pre-adrenal exhaustion (fatigue, lack of energy, low motivation). The thyroid is also closely linked to adrenal function, so this is also something to consider.
CHOCOLATE AND SWEET FOODS, GRAINS (ESPECIALLY PROCESSED) – Magnesium and chromium, B3 deficiency – serotonin imbalance/ depression, blood sugar imbalance/pancreatic function/glucose intolerance.
RED MEAT/ COFFEE, TEA, – iron – possibly low blood pressure.
CHILLI – low blood pressure.
CHEESE AND FATTY FOODS – essential fatty acids, tryptophan, depression, anxiety, fatigue.
ALCOHOL – low mood, B vitamins (especially B12 and folate), protein deficiency, glucose tolerance (magnesium, chromium, B3, and cysteine, glycine, glutamic acid)
Some of the other reasons we have cravings other than emotional can also be related to; Candida (systemic) – a type of fungal bacteria that thrives on carbohydrates and sugars of any kind. Symptoms and cravings can be sugary processed carbs and alcohol cravings, feeling foggy after meals, bloating after meals, feeling spacey after eating a high carbohydrate meal. PMS, and memory loss or brain fag, excess mucous production. Leptin resistance – regulates appetite, creates satiety after food, and influences the way the body expends energy and burns fat. In some cases Leptin can stop functioning properly, and this could sometimes explain why people plateau in fat loss, or it is harder for them to lean up. Cravings are increased processed carbohydrate and simple sugary foods, and late night snacking. Stress, anxiousness, boredom, and over exercising can confuse Leptin function leading to resistance. Sleep, avoid snacking, and have a good solid protein and healthy fat meal for breakfast. Essential fatty acids also help. Cortisol symptoms and cravings are very similar, and in my opinion often go hand in hand when treating hormonal conditions along with insulin and blood sugar stabilisation. Symptoms and cravings are belly fat, fatty hump at the base of the neck, cravings for sugary high fat and salty foods, fatigue during the day, and sleeplessness at night. The most important thing with all of this is its is information! It’s not wrong to have cravings, and it’s not wrong to satisfy cravings. It becomes and issue when you are eating more of these foods than nutritionally dense foods that we need for the body to function and survive with ease. SO next time you want to sit down to a large block of chocolate, or a family size of hot chips, listen to your body and consider what you might be needing in your life emotionally and nutritionally and try to fill that first. And if you really need too, have it, but try not to do this on a daily basis. Love your body, so it loves you back!!