Too often, we see cravings as habits - or little more than evidence of no willpower. Either way, we deem them as "naughty" or "bad behavior”. They can actually be messages from our bodies warning us of deficiencies or imbalances that are both physical and emotional at the root. While there are more cravings than one can count, here are 5 major causes of sugar and food cravings that we experience in everyday life.
ALSO. It's not about *NO* dessert. It's about enjoying sweet treats when they are really worthwhile and special. When it's actually about the indulgence not about a reaction you are having to something else.
Dehydration It can be hard to find the time to fit in a glass of water between the coffee, cocktails, and eggnog that creep their way into the Holidays. Our schedules become so heavy with parties, errands, etc., that we may be unconscious of the fact that we’re drinking more coffee than usual. Not to mention, a caramel mocha latte is very enticing in 30 degree winter weather. This is all a perfect storm for dehydration. When we are dehydrated, we are more likely to crave sweets and salty foods.
To Do: shoot for half your body weight in ounces of WATER (not tea or juice).
(Note: after a LOT of research, I chose a Berkey Filter for my home. It's more expensive than a pitcher filter., but you only have to change the Berkey filter once every 10 years or something like that, so it ends up being less expensive overall and less wasteful).
Protein Deficiency A diet lacking in sufficient protein can also lead to sugar and carbohydrate cravings. This is caused by unstable blood sugar. Make sure you are getting the necessary amount of protein; about 1/4 of your plate is considered optimal. For the record, this does not just mean meat.
To Do: Explore the many different and delicious plant-based protein sources if you have not already.
Yeast Overgrowth Sometimes it isn't even you craving the sweets, but the fungus inside of you! From birth, we have fungus and yeast living in our intestines. Ideally, these critters live within their boundaries and are kept from overgrowth. Although, when they are "over fed" with sugar and starchy carbohydrates, we lose this harmony, and the yeast can become overgrown within us. This can lead to them craving even more of their food sources as they proliferate.
To Do: While completely denying sugar and starchy carbohydrates is not the ultimate end goal, make sure to try and keep a healthy harmony with the yeast inside your body by low to moderate starch and sugar consumption. Your body will reward you with fewer cravings and other symptoms.
Grab a high quality probiotic too!
Addiction and Allergies We are often allergic to the same foods to which we have developed an addiction. This is because the proteins in these allergic foods have can stimulate a flood of opiates in our brain giving us a sense of pleasure on the same scale of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The three biggest culprits when it comes to food allergy addictions are wheat, dairy, and sugar. We can consider these foods to be addictive because they not only perpetuate their own consumption, but abstaining from them can cause a withdrawal state. This withdrawal results in craving more of the substance, overeating, weight gain, and mood swings.
To Do: As with yeast the goal here is harmony and I suggest a method such as '80/20' -- 80% of your food intake should be healthy, nutrient dense food while 20% may be used for food choices that are less nutrient dense.
Stress It's very important to gain the awareness needed to make the distinction between an emotional craving and a physical one. Much of the time it is emotional hunger that drives us toward certain foods - usually those high in fat and sugar. If this is the case, exploring stress relieving techniques as well as slowing down can be useful in getting the upper hand with the cravings. Stress is something we all experience in our day to day lives and it undoubtedly plays a huge role in our diet choices.
To Do: Make sure you stay aware of your stress levels and take an active step in keeping up with lifestyle decisions that limit stress so it doesn't cause you to make meal choices you will regret later.
1. Plan ahead: Never go to a party hungry. Make sure you fill up on nutrient dense and minimally processed foods before leaving the house.
2. Eat something sour: This taste leaves sugar cravings dead in their tracks. Try sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables.
3. Move more: Exercise has been proven to improve digestion and metabolization of sugar.
4. Slow down, and breathe: Remove yourself from the area or situation that is triggering your cravings. Maybe don't stand directly next to the dessert table ;).
5. Reset with the 10 Day AbundeDETOX!!
Cravings don't have to be a constant battle. These 5 causes are only a few amongst many that strongly affect our desires to eat certain foods or choose other drinks besides water. By beginning your focus on these 5 causes, you will find it easier to control many cravings and stick to whatever meal plan you put your mind to.
Churn Mark , Mary Foushi, Ester Helga Gudmundsdotter, Colleen Hillock, Marty Lerner, Michael Prager, Mary Rice, Louisa Walsh, Philip Werder., 'Physical Cravings and Food Addiction'., The Food Addiction Institute: 2009.
Flores MB1, Fernandes MF, Ropelle ER, Faria MC, Ueno M, Velloso LA, Saad MJ, Carvalheira JB., 'Exercise improves insulin and leptin sensitivity in hypothalamus of Wistar rats', Diabetes, Sep. 2006.
Gates, Donna. The Baby Boomer Diet, Carlsbad: Hay House, Inc, 2011. Kumar, Kalpana (Rose) M.D., Becoming Real-Reclaiming Your Health In Midlife, Pewaukee: Medial Press, 2014. Ross, Julia. The Diet Cure, New York: Penguin Group, 2012
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Hi! My name is Sarah, and I am the founder of Abundelicious. I'm into clean eating, traveling (beach please), helping folks eat and feel better, gardening (not very well), and bopping around my neighborhood with my dog. Thanks for reading!