Sunday 23 September, 2018

Wellness with Natalie: Got cravings? Here's what they mean

What does it all mean? Cravings are a strong desire for something. Contrary to what some people may tell you, they do not represent a lack of will power. They are powerful messages that your body is giving you – critical information that you need to learn to listen to and interpret. 

Products like refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and drugs, have little or no nutritional value and are confusing to the body. They throw it off balance and can create serious cravings. 

I have found that there are three main types of cravings:

  1. You actually are missing a nutrient, maybe your diet is too strict and you are missing key nutrients. You will crave sweet if your protein intake is too low, so have some chicken or eggs. A chocolate craving may indicate lack of magnesium, so have almonds instead.
  2. There are emotionally-triggered cravings. These may be nostalgic - like you smell baked goods, remember grandma’s sweet potato pudding as a child and want to go after that. Or you smell pizza and your brain lights up because pizza means good times with good friends and you crave it. These you need to find substitutions for and remember, activity-based substitutions are good. So leave the room, go for a walk or drink some water. Stress is another major emotional craving trigger. My best recommendation here is, in the moment, take some deep breaths and stretch, but overall get more movement and exercise into your life to de-stress. 
  3. Then we have the biggie - addictive cravings. These tend to be carb or sugar based. With this craving, you just have to toughen up and fight through and find substitutions to get you over it. This comes with actual withdrawal symptoms; it’s as hard as overcoming a drug addiction and can be physically painful.

Some supplements can help you get off the bad stuff so you could consider adding these if you’re a sugar addict needing a little extra help:

  • The amino acid L-glutamine has been found to help reduce, and even eliminate, cravings by helping to steady blood sugar. Add 500 milligrams three times a day with meals and an extra dose when a craving hits.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA) is a neuro transmitter that we make in our body to calm us down when we need it. You can supplement with this to literally calm down your brain and help you over the carb cravings
  • Lipoic Acid assists with blood sugar stabilization and also speeds up carbohydrate utilization. It is in most antioxidant supplements. You need about 50-250mg Lipoic Acid daily to control carbohydrate cravings.

Snacks my partner and I like to get us through a craving period are:

  • Natural no sugar added nut butter and fruit like a banana or a green apple – why?  Fat and fiber make you feel full and your brain feel better.
  • Chia pudding – again this is nutrient dense, has a nice texture (crunchy and smooth at the same time) and is filling.
  •  A quick smoothie with something like spirulina provides nutrients and can fill that craving gap

Here are some good steps to try when a craving hits:

  1. Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes, during this time you can practice meditation or deep breathing.
  2. If it is still there, eat a healthier version of what you crave that will satisfy you. But you have to have these on hand and figured out ahead of time because if you are caught out, you will cave in.
  3. If you actually do give in and eat the food you are craving, be fully present and taste it, savor it, notice how it affects you. Then you can be more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.

Working with a coach such as myself can help you deconstruct your cravings and get you on the right path.  I can also help you find the best supplements to help.  So send me and email and let’s curb those cravings.

Natalie Murray is an Integrative Health Coach.  She runs individual and group detox programs, offers corporate wellness programs and maintains an individual coaching practice.  If you want to learn more about how working with a Health Coach can help you in making gradual sustainable shifts towards a healthier lifestyle visit www.natalie-murray.com or email her at info@natalie-murray.com.  Follow her in IG @nataliemurray.jm

This article is for information purposes only.  The information presented is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information.  The Information provided is NOT a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem and disease.  You should consult your health care provider if you have or suspect you may have a health problem.