As do many of my clients, I too had a craving for sushi these last couple of days. I decided to dive deeper into why we crave certain foods.
In general, sushi cravings can begin from a liver that is running hot and needs to be cooled down. Cucumber and seaweed are two foods to offer the liver this support.
For example, if you have been eating foods that are harder to digest, such as wheat, dairy, meats, starches, and sugars, then the liver wants a time out. Sushi, especially low-mercury white fish, is easy for your body to digest and can also be very hydrating.
Hunger and cravings are two different sensations. The body regulates the former, while the mind and certain hormones, such as leptin, ghrelin have power over the latter. Hunger serves a more utilitarian purpose, signaling our brains that it’s time to eat. To cross that distance between the stomach and brain, the vagus nerve is the vagabond nerve that delivers messages FROM the body to the brain. Some cravings may be related to what your sensitive and smart organs may need.
First, the fat tissues expel the hormone leptin. This chemical tells our brains that our bodies are satisfied and we can stop eating. The hypothalamus also monitors our insulin and blood sugar levels to ensure that we’ve eaten enough to bring those levels back up. Since this process doesn’t happen instantaneously, we may feel uncomfortably stuffed after finishing a large meal.
We also have dopamine, a chemical that is released in the body when we crave pleasure. It is released as a reward that we obtain from fulfilling food cravings has been compared to drug addiction because both behaviors follow similar neural pathways.
Psychological factors can also influence the intensity and nature of our food hankerings. Studies on mood have found that our emotional state normally has a greater impact on cravings than hunger.
How do you respond to your cravings?
Do you react too quickly and judge them?
Do you stuff them down, only to have them pop up later with even more gusto?
The #1 thing to do from the Conscious Nutrition philosophy and the Feel Your Meal process is:
- Take 5 deep breaths. This pause helps your lungs take in quality oxygen, relaxes your sympathetic nervous system and stress hormones.
- Your cravings are giving you signals! You may need the nutrients from the craving but maybe not the exact food item. For example, my macaroni and cheese craving is a signal that I need a gentle meal such as gluten free pasta or my favorite Vegan Mac-n-Cheese. Check out my Youtube video and recipe here!
- What is going on emotionally? Instead of focusing just on the food, what do you emotionally need? I created the Conscious Nutrition Cravings Book to help you connect your body and brain. You deserve to feel pleasure and satiety!
Let me know if you have any questions and which cravings are your strongest!
with abundant nourishment,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N.