The Science Behind Cravings
We all know the strong hold a food craving can have over us. We will even put on our shoes and go to the store late night to get the savory or sweet treat. Or we keep going to fridge and opening it only to stare blankly in it for a few minutes, grabbing nothing and then coming back again searching for that want.
I had a blast writing our new cravings book. This book is a quick guide for you to use as a reference to learn what your body’s signals are trying to tell you. We used realistic and easy ideas for you to add in with each specific craving along with an emotional aspect that is related to that craving. What I see the most as I assist people with their relationship with food, is they feel overwhelmed emotionally and physically in the moment and have a hard time giving their body the support it needs. Thus, leaving us malnourished and feeling guilty. We hope you enjoy the book and check out the science behind these cravings that can rule our lives a bit too much.
The main causes of this craving phenomenon are:
- Low amino acids & B-Vitamins
- Dehydration from water and/or essential fatty acids
- Food sensitivities
- Gut health
- Nervous System Stress
The central nervous system cannot function without amino acids, which act as neurotransmitters or as precursors to the neurotransmitters. They are necessary for the brain to receive and send messages. All the amino acids must be present together or something may go wrong with the transmission of the message. If there is a protein shortage due to a diet deficiency and/or the inability to digest proteins, disorders can arise.
A great book and resource is The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. She states that if you are low in the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is needed to produce serotonin, you may have afternoon cravings for carbohydrates, alcohol or drugs. If you are low in endorphins, our natural rush, you may crave comforting or numbing treats or “love” certain foods (CHOCOLATE), drugs or alcohol.
The Gut/Brain connection is being heaving supported by science and gluten free products are helping people heal their digestive tract. Gluten and some grains can actually become addictive. When you don’t properly digest the gluten the undigested proteins have morphine-like properties which cause that “high” you feel after a piece of bread or pasta.
Candida is a fungal overgrowth that can cause very strong sugar and bread cravings. Yeasts and candida live on sugar and seem to urge you to feed them all the time. When your gut flora is imbalanced you will have strong cravings for sweet and starchy foods. So what you are allergic too may be exactly what you are craving.
Our bodies need saturated fats for function of nerves, brain, hormones, immune system and metabolism. By feeding your body the healthy fats it needs—fats found in organic butter, ghee, coconut meat and milk, nuts, meats and eggs—your body produces a hormone in the stomach that signals you have eaten enough. The feeling of satiation helps the nervous system feel satisfied, full and complete after meals. This sensation helps us know when we are done eating.
Eating a lot of sugar can cause you to want more of the same. It takes 72 hours for sugar to leave your system. Your body and brain become metabolically adapted to burning glucose for fuel, instead of burning fat for fuel. Dr. Rosedale of the Rosedale Diet does a great job at explaining sugar burners vs. fat burners. When you change your primary fuel back to healthy fats from sugar, the nervous system will run more efficiently and you will have less of a roller coaster effect throughout the day. A rapid increase in blood glucose puts your body in a state of shock, prompting it to pump out lots of insulin very quickly. As a result of overproduction of insulin, soon you have low blood glucose again. (Insulin is what puts on weight, especially around your abdomen)
What to do to find balance with your cravings:
- Add in the amino acid called DLPA (a form of phenylalanine) that works as an appetite suppressant. Xymogen carries one called Appe-Curb, order on Amazon or email me if you would like to order.
- Try Gymnema sylvestre, especially in the middle of the day for the sugar slumps.
- Add Omega-3 Fish oils, 2,000 mg once to twice a day depending on the strength of your cravings.
- Add in healthy fats through out the day: Coconut oil in your herbal tea; raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, avocados, ghee)
- Start your day out with a Protein meal and a Dairy Free-probiotic Ultra Flora Acute Care
I hope we experience healthy, balanced cravings throughout our entire lives. These cravings can help with your supporting your body’s true needs, creativity with meal planning, connecting with friends, celebrations and dining out.
Crave away in a balanced way!
Heather Fleming, C.C.N.
Photo by: Eric May