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What You Should Know About Your Cravings



Ever feel like you can’t control your cravings like a kid desperately wanting a donut or sour worms? It happens to all of us, so you are not alone . For women, it seems to be more frequent and definitely attaches to our levels of stress at the time. Because let's be honest, are you more likely to eat those Easter cookies in the break room or the lovely kale-balsamic salad that you prepped this week?

We are not perfect and avoiding cravings is not all about having the willpower to do so.


There are some deeper reasons as to why your cravings may be getting the best of you and affecting your emotional and physical health.


Keep reading to learn more about common cravings and why they won't leave you alone.


Craving Fatty or Greasy Foods

When you consistently crave or prefer a burger from your favorite place as opposed to a plate that is half veggies, this may mean you have an essential fatty acid deficiency.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA'S) are fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce but we need them for good health. The most common and beneficial fatty acid that you may have heard of is Omega-3. Bile (produced in the liver) is crucial in this relationship because it is needed to actually absorb and incorporate the fatty acids. So the efficiency of health of your liver and gallbladder are something you can check in with your primary about if these type of cravings are out of your control. When you are deficient in fatty acids, not only will you crave fatty or greasy foods, but you may start to notice a common sign of dry scaly rashes.

Some helpful lifestyle changes to make include decreasing or eliminating fast and fried foods and start incorporating healthier sources of fats such as: flaxseed oil, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame, apricot, beet juice, taurine and vitamin C.


Craving Sweets

This is by far the most common craving I hear from women and men and the hardest to control. So what is the root of this craving?

There are a couple of reasons you can't control your love for cupcakes or cookies:

1. Imbalance and overgrowth of bacteria in your gut known as dysbiosis. This has also been termed SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth) This imbalanced environment needs to be fed more sugar to thrive and the powerful connection between your gut and brain are the reason you feel like you can't control these cravings.

2. Blood sugar regulation. The more sugar you eat the more you crave it, because it is very addictive. It takes at least 3-4 days to clear the residue of sweets and sugar. Sugar also increase our needs for B vitamins and Vitamin C. The body has to rob its stores of B vitamins to handle nutrient devoid sugar.


3. Low adrenal function. Piling in the sweets also places an unnecessary burden on the adrenal glands. The adrenals respond to sugar by putting out cortisol, which can lead to mineral deficiencies causing the body to dump minerals.

All of these root causes for sugar cravings require proper and careful attention. Look out for an article on Restoring Adrenals soon!

But, Here are some quick tips to get started :

1. Figure out which of the above reasons is the main cause of your cravings.

2. Heal Your Gut and Liver by implementing nourishing and supporting foods and supplementation if necessary. Check out the "Eat to Nourish" Guide.

3. Manage your stress and practice breathing techniques that relax you and help you feel balanced.


Craving Coffee or Sugar in the Afternoon

Feeling that afternoon crash? This is also due to an imbalance in blood sugar, and you get these cravings in the afternoon because your blood sugar is low. Your pancreas, liver, and adrenals are involved here as each they play a role in the regulation of our blood sugar. Coupled with stresses from our everyday lives, this leads to low adrenal function and a blood sugar imbalance. There are two types of low blood sugar personalities:

1. This type wakes up very hungry, needing to eat every 2 hours, and craves carbs and refined sugars. Why? Because their reserves of glucose overnight are very small, and they wake up hungry in the middle of the night or need to eat first thing in the morning.

If this is you, try implementing a plant-powered diet of protein and complex carbs which will be helpful in longer lasting energy, avoiding the hangry, and the inconvenience of constant snacking.

2. The second type wakes up groggy, and is in need of multiple cups of coffee, even after a good nights rest. The coffee gets them through the day and then they eat a large meal for dinner and are knocked out afterward. This leads to constant sluggishness and not feeling their best, but when stress arises it gives them the motivation to keep going. With this type, looking at nourishing the liver and adrenals by cutting out the refined sugars and carbs can give the organs a kickstart to start releasing cortisol and glycogen efficiently again

With this craving, you may also experience sleepiness in the afternoon, fatigue that is relieved by eating, headaches if you skip a meal, hangry or irritable before meals, and feeling shaky if you don't eat on time.

Always consult your physician to get bloodwork done to see where your values land on the scale!


Craving Salty Foods

Salting a few things at a restaurant because they just completely dismissed seasoning is one thing. But finding yourself constantly salting foods or craving salty foods like chips, pretzels, or caramel sea salted mini-donuts may be something worth looking into. These cravings are particularly associated with the adrenal glands and can indicate a need for electrolytes. We know the adrenal glands to be important for healthy stress response, but they also help with balancing minerals and other hormones such as aldosterone. Aldosterone is responsible for reabsorbing sodium and chloride (two essential electrolytes), and if our adrenals are not in their best health, the level of aldosterone may be comprised as well. So with this, there is a larger dump of sodium and chloride and this results in your salt craving.


Crave chocolate around periods

This craving is pretty straight forward but may be more difficult to control during that time of the month for the ladies. You're craving chocolate because it has the ability to have a pretty substantial amount of magnesium in (dark chocolate in particular). This paired with sugar (mostly in milk chocolate) seems to satisfy your craving and your mood.

Don't lose hope! Now that you have a better understanding of why you are craving these particular things and what's truly at the root cause, you can start to take action.


References:

Weatherby, D. "Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Nutritional Therapy Association. 2004

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