Tag Archives: cravings

3 Causes of Food Cravings You Can Conquer! 

Comfort Eating In Office

(The following is adapted from the new book Cravings Boss: The REAL Reason You Crave Food and a 5-Step Plan to Take Back Control by Natalia Levey , CHC, CNC)   

Unsatisfying relationships, stressful jobs, disappointing sex life and emotional highs and lows can all cause excessive binging or deprivation eating. Remember the break-up movie scene? When emotions run high, the body sends craving cues in order to obtain “rewards” from the brain, even if temporary. It’s always best to seek out non-food related rewards first.

When was the first time you bought a ticket for the emotional rollercoaster? Are you still on that ride? Or do you receive a monthly subscription of emotions, gradually increasing over time? Let’s take a look at how this might play out.

1. Fear. Fear and worry show up throughout the day. You may be nervously anticipating your next meeting, worried about a conversation you had, or simply anxious about how to get everything done on your to-do list. Continue reading

8 Steps To Stop Your Nighttime Binges

Do you sometimes sneak a late-night snack, even after you’ve had a big dinner? Or worse, do you find yourself hungry and craving sugar and carbs at night? You may think you’re alone, but nighttime eating is a common problem.

Are you hungry after a big meal? Do you continue eating late into the night?

It is one of the biggest reasons we gain weight. We eat and go to bed and store all that food around our bellies.

Have you ever thought about why, not long after a big meal, you crave more food, more sugar, and more junk, and you want to have chips or sweets or other unhealthy foods?

It’s not a flaw in your personality. It’s not some emotional issue that you have to fix. It’s not some psychological trauma that you have to get over.

It’s simple biology, an imbalance of the hormones that regulate your appetite.

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

3 Ways to Rewire Your Brain and End Food Cravings

brainonstress

I’m a food addict. We all are. Our brains are biologically driven to seek and devour high-calorie, fatty foods. The difference is that I have learned how to control those primitive parts of my brain. Anyone can this if they know how. In this article, I will share 3 steps to help you counteract those primitive parts of your brain that have you chasing high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. But before you can update your brain’s biological software, you’ve got to understand why it developed in the first place.

Calories = Survival

The brain’s desire to binge on rich food is a genetic holdover from the days of hunter-gatherers. Given what scientists know today about our early ancestors, it makes sense that our brains are hardwired to fixate on high-calorie foods. It’s a survival mechanism. Eating as many calories as possible, whenever possible, allowed our ancestors to store excess calories as fat and survive lean times. That approach worked well for 2.4 million years, but today it’s making us sick and fat.

That’s because our brains haven’t evolved as fast as our food environment. The human brain evolved over 2.5 million years. And, with the exception of the last 10,000 years, people only ate animals they could hunt and wild-plants they could gather. Imagine if you could only eat what you caught or picked! The variety of foods hunter-gatherers ate paled in comparison to the 40,000 different food items we can buy in the average big-box grocery store today.(1)

No cinnamon buns for them!

And whereas we have easy access to food 24/7, drive-thru meals were not an option for hunter-gatherers. Not to mention that hunting and gathering was hard work. Early humans expended lots of calories acquiring their food, so they needed to eat high-calorie foods to offset the loss. The average hunter-gatherer got up to 60 percent of his calories from animal foods, such as muscle meat, fat, and organ meat, and the other 40 percent from plants.(2)

That balance between protein and carbohydrates in the diet is where the problem lies, but it’s not what you think. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but they are the single most important nutrient for long-term health and weight loss. But I’m not talking about bagels and donuts. I’m talking about plant foods that more closely resemble what our ancestors ate. Hunter-gatherers ate fruit, tubers, seeds, and nuts. These are whole foods. They are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease- and weight-busting colorful phytochemicals. They also take time to digest. Therefore, they raise blood sugar slowly, which balances metabolism and offers a steady stream of energy. Whole foods have all the right information and turn on all the right genes.

But the past 10,000 years saw the advent of both agriculture and industrialization. And, in the blink of an eye (by evolutionary standards), the human diet got turned upside down. Today, 60 percent of our calories come from things that hunter-gatherers wouldn’t even recognize as food. The bulk of those items—cereal grains, sugary drinks, refined oils and dressings—are simple carbohydrates.(3) The primitive brain sees an endless supply of easy energy. Left unchecked, our bodies pay the price. The result is a two-fronted epidemic of obesity and diabetes in our country—what I call “diabesity.”

3 Ways to Reprogram your Brain

Luckily there are ways to rewire the primitive parts of your brain by making good food choices. Here are 3 ways to get started.

1.) Balance blood sugar.

Blood sugar highs and lows drive primitive food cravings. If you get famished between meals, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. When blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything. To better balance blood sugar, eat a small meal or snack that includes healthy protein, like seeds or nuts, every 3 to 4 hours.

2.) Eliminate liquid calories and artificial sweeteners.

Early humans didn’t reach for soda or fruit juices when they got thirsty. Sodas are full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Processed fruit juices are awash in sugar. Try sticking with water and green tea. Green tea contains plant chemicals that are good for your health. And, last but not least, don’t succumb to the diet-drink trap. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks fool the body into thinking it is ingesting sugar, which creates the same insulin spike as regular sugar.

3.) Eat a high-quality protein at breakfast.

Ideally, you’re eating quality protein at every meal, but, if you need to prioritize one meal, choose breakfast. Studies show that waking up to a healthy protein, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters or a protein shake help people lose weight, reduce cravings and burn calories.

Ultimately, you may not control your genes, but you do control what and how you eat. Since taking control and changing my diet, my brain no longer caves into the cravings and urgings that seduce the reptilian brain. The most powerful tool you have to transform your health is your fork! Use it well and you will thrive.

References:
(1) “What to Eat,” Marion Nestle, p 17
(2) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L
Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71
(3) “Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets,” L
Cordain, et al American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

10 Ways To Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats

medusa

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell, are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.

So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  1. Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat. Want more cooking tips like this? Check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  2. Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  3. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods. See for yourself just how healthy and tasty desserts can be by trying my Dark Chocolate Silk Pudding from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  4. Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  5. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  6. Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  7. For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  8. Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  9. Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
  10. Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral. Try the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. If you are deficient, you might also need to take a zinc supplement. Work with one of my nutrition coaches to ensure your nutrition status is up to par.

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For more ways to use your kitchen to take back your health, check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles.

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Self-Control: How Do You Regulate Your Eating Habits?

In and OutI’ve been continuing to ponder the abstainers vs. moderators distinction.

In case you haven’t been breathlessly following this line of argument: in a nutshell, when facing a temptation, abstainers do better if they abstain altogether, while moderators do better if they indulge a little bit, or from time to time.

The other day, a friend who is a true moderator told me, “I got a sundae from my favorite ice cream store, and it was so, so good. But after the tenth bite or so, I could hardly taste it anymore. I had a few more bites, then it turned into a puddle, and a friend of mine finished it for me.”

To me, this is a very foreign way of acting. The difference between my friend and me made me wonder if this is a distinction between abstainers and moderators, and I’d love for you abstainers and moderators out there to weigh in on this question.

Moderators, does your desire often diminish as you eat? Does it drop off in intensity?

Abstainers, do you experience this? Or do you find that your desire for the last bite is just as strong as for the first bite? Or does desire actually gain momentum from the first bite, so you want the next bite even more?

Perhaps this is another pattern that distinguishes abstainers and moderators. Or perhaps not.

If you want to read more about abstainers and moderators, I write about it in Happier at Home, chapter 5. You might also be interested in the post–I must say, one of my favorite posts of all time–about my sister’s experience when she decided to be “free from French fries.”

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Your “Non-Piggy Bank”: The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Losing Weight

Marina's portrait II - IMG_8006 edGood Day Tushkateers! Greetings, Salutations, Happy June and more!

Yes, it’s been a few weeks since last we met. And now, just back, I sit, alternating between staring, gazing in a somewhat stupefied state out my New York City window, enjoying the music of the hustle and bustle, as the honks, sirens, people “talking,” all sounds make their way up the side of the building, into my home office; and writing a sentence or two of this morning’s KICK. (I’d call it a high-rise, but that’s a bit of an exaggeration, as there are only 9 floors.)

I am doing my best to orient myself via caffeine. Talk about writing in ‘real time,’ can you feel the stupefied part of me beginning to wake up?’ I can, holy goodness, mercy mercy me.

The Meaty Portion—or rather the Porky Portion of this week’s KICK:

Last week, while I was traveling about, I did talk to a client who was “struggling,” in need of a cup of motivation and inspiration! (Who isn’t?) Let’s call her Mary.

After talking it through with Mary and identifying that “sweets” are a red light food, a major-league trigger that keep her from fitting into her svelte clothes as well as purchasing a much coveted Eileen Fisher outfit, we—together—remembered and embraced the “Non-Piggy Bank” Pious Project from Our Lady of Weight Loss:  Mysterious and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal.

Here is the Non-Piggy Bank excerpt from the book. Read and ingest now, please, slowly. Word by word!

~

I must have said and continue to say “No, thank you” to offers of food about eight zillion times a day. No! I am NOT exaggerating! You’d think the scales of injustice would be appreciative of my efforts and automatically reward me. Yet, if I cave—even just once—to the sweet temptation of a hot fudge sundae, all my righteous efforts are sugared and fattened away.

I wanted a reward! So, I made a non-piggy bank and paid myself one dollar for each and every non-piggy no thank you I uttered. When my non-piggy is filled with cash, I count it joyfully and either go for a manicure or buy lipstick.

My non-piggy bank changed the focus on my no-thank-yous from deprivation to fun! I started looking for people to offer me things.

“Aren’t you going to offer me some of that key lime pie?” I asked a friend, whom I’d irrationally labeled a food pusher the week before. She looked at me quizzically and apprehensively inquired, “Would you like a slice of pie?”

“Non merci, je suis a la diete,” I cheerfully answered in French, adding another level of flavor to my no-thank-you. I kept count of my no-thank-yous, and when I got home that night, I had twenty extra no-thank-you bucks to add to my jar!! (I borrowed the money from my husband.)

~

If you are wondering how this is working for Mary, I can tell you with certainty that it is working extremely well! Yesterday, Mary wrote me, reporting in. Thus far, since our session, she has accumulated a fair sum of No-Thank-You-Bucks, but has opted to wait to spend it until she has enough money to buy the entire E.F. outfit! Good for Mary!

Mary is ‘out there’ looking for people to offer non-Our Lady-Approved-Foods to her, just so she can say, “No, thank you!”

Now…If you want the instructions on how to make a Non-Piggy Bank, write me and I will send them to you! Write: Non-Piggy Bank” in the subject line, and commit! Say….“Yes, I will deposit  a dollar (or a quarter, or a dime, or a $20 bill–depending upon the size your pocketbook) into my Non-Piggy Bank with every no-thank-you. My first purchase (I know that this is a first in a long line of purchases to motivate and inspire) will be _________.” Got it? Get specific! Details, please.

Put the specifics on paper.
Set an intention.
Make it real! Make it work!

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For more high-spirited fun, lightness of being, weightlessness and friendship, please join with your fellow Tushkateers: on the Facebook/KITT Club page!  AND be sure to scroll down (down, the other down) for this week’s most popular OLofWL blog post links, and quotes that fill the soul and inspire the spirit!

For the best life, wellness and weight loss wisdom, visit Janice:
Our Lady of Weight Loss

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Beat the Nighttime Eats

For many of us the biggest challenge in our day comes at night. We find it almost impossible to simply put down the fork, push away from the dinner table and move on into the night without finding our minds drifting towards food. 

It would be lovely to be minus the obsessive food thoughts; to make space for a peaceful, calm and soulful evening. Wouldn’t it?

I have worked out an easy and yes, brilliant strategy that you can follow!

Step by Step Guide: How to Beat the Nighttime Eats!

Step 1. Upon Entering (after a long day’s work or outing): Music activates the same feel good center of the brain that food does. Put on your favorite tunes or as my brilliant client, Susan T. does, program the radio to go on at a certain time, so that when you open the door, you are immediately infused by healing sounds.

Step 2. Get Comfy: Kick off your work shoes and put on a pair of fluffy slippers. Whatever your version of comfy is, go for it.

Step 3. Water Yourself: Pour yourself a glass of ‘exotic’ water. Cucumber water, watermelon water, lemon water, lime water. (Cut fresh slices of fruit and float in water. A beautiful touch.)

Step 4. Eat an Apple: According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, you can reduce your calorie  intake by 15% by eating an apple 15 minutes before your meal! Apparently, the apple boosts your satiety levels, helping you to eat less! So … Mindfully cut an apple into slices. Arrange on a pretty plate. Squeeze a fresh lime onto it.

Step 5. No Seat/No Eat. Please be sure to drink your water and eat your apple while sitting, quietly. Do not do anything else but sit quietly, drink your water and slowly eat your apple.

Step 6. Cook It Up. Now that you have shifted your mindset from work to home and are calm, comfy, hydrated and sated, prepare dinner.

Step 7. Set the Table. While the food is cooking, set a beautiful table. Flowers are always a good idea, as are candles, beautiful plates and glasses. The works!

Step 8. Prepare Your Plate. Now that your dinner is ready, put your portion on your plate and place it on the table. (DO NOT SIT DOWN AND EAT … yet! This is CRUCIAL!)

Step 9. Put It All Away NOW. That’s right, put the leftovers away before you eat. I’ll say it again. This is CRUCIAL. As client Susan T. told me just this morning, "It’s best to put it all away before I sit down to eat, lest post-meal I am likely to continue tasting it."

Step 10. Sit Down and Eat. No television, no magazines, no telephone. Just enjoy your meal. Yes, you may talk to another human being if they are sitting at the table with you. Savor the flavor. Enjoy the experience of good, healthy living.

Step 11. Brush Your Teeth. After you eat, brush your teeth. You are not only practicing good dental hygiene, but you are clearing the taste of food away. If left there, you might not consciously taste it, but your mind will continue to do so and the food chatter will ensue.

Step 12. Clear the Table/Kitchen. Unless your children are too small and physically unable to carry and scrap their plates, you clear and scrap only your own plate. It’s okay for them to help. And needless to say, it eliminates the opportunity for you to pick leftovers off other people’s plates.

Step 13. Nighttime Activity. Even if you are sitting and talking and/or watching television, keeping your hands busy is an integral part of permanent weight loss.  Whether you knit, crochet, or enjoy a good paint-by-number kit, or a crossword puzzle, keep your hands busy!

And there you have it! A strategy that cures!

Still hungry for more crucial info about nighttime eating?
10 Ways to Curb Conquer and Curb Nighttime Eating

Spread the word … NOT the icing!
Janice

Visit Janice:  www.OurLadyofWeightLoss.com
for daily wisdom:  Beliefnet.com/OurLadyofWeightLoss

Sugar, by Any Other Name, is Not As Sweet

Even though many sweets, whether made from honey or molasses, fructose, sucrose, agave, cane sugar, beet sugar or high fructose corn syrup, may have the same number of calories per teaspoon, they do have differing properties.
 
Sweet in and of itself is not such a bad thing. We’re even genetically programmed to like sweet, and even more, to crave it. Most naturally sweet foods are also nourishing and satisfy the body with more than just the simple calories that they contain. For example, most naturally sweet fruits, such as mangoes, strawberries, cherimoya, bananas, coconuts, pineapples, oranges, dates and others contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other natural phytochemicals important for our health and well-being. Sweet vegetables, like beets and yams, are good sources of these nutrients as well. Whole grains, naturally sweet foods, contain B vitamins and fiber along with complex carbohydrates. Our bodies are used to being nourished and fed by more than just the sweet taste of sweet foods.
 
From an Ayurvedic perspective, sweet provides satisfaction and a feeling of being nourished for these very reasons. It’s why we often gravitate toward the sweet taste as a source of comfort. Interestingly, from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s not only sugar that is sweet. Whole grains are sweet (they just may not seem that way to our palates used to the intense hit of simple sugars), and even healthy oils are considered to be sweet. Often, many of our nearest and dearest comfort foods are a combination of fat and sugar, and sometimes our sweet cravings are not just cravings for a hit of sugar, but for something more. Taking enough essential fatty acids (the omega 3-6-9 combos found in Udo’s, flax, hemp, evening primrose or other oils) can be literally essential for our well-being and deep nurturing.
 
When we get overly habituated to sweet by overeating simple sugars, highly processed sugars or even artificial sweeteners, then the healthy, natural, whole-food sweets may no longer taste as sweet. When we’ve grown accustomed to the intense sugar hit of a candy bar or a holiday dessert tray, then fruit may be bland, cereal or brown rice may be boring. And we’ve tricked our body. The sweet taste that is supposed to be a harbinger of vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients is now an empty promise with no delivery. This is why refined sugars are called empty calories. Sure, they provide energy, but they’re devoid of necessary substance. Calories alone are not enough.
 
One type of sweet that is so pervasive that it is almost invasive is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It can be found in numerous types of candy, cookies, crackers, soda pop, juice drinks, as well as processed foods including salad dressings, sauces and even breads.  High fructose corn syrup is a highly processed form of liquid sugar derived from corn. It’s cheaper than table sugar (usually made from sugar cane or beets), largely due to corn subsidies and sugar tariffs. Depending on how it is processed, HFCS can taste even sweeter than sugar, which is part of the appeal in our society that just can’t seem to get enough of the sweet taste. From the perspective of calories, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), mentioned earlier, has the same number of calories as other forms of sugar. But the fact that it is so heavily processed means that those are empty calories with no nutrients. And HFCS, as its name implies, is a little different than table sugar, which is sucrose, a combination of glucose and fructose. HFCS is mostly fructose. These are not necessarily processed in the body in the same way.
 
Some sources suggest that overloading the body with fructose creates a bottleneck in the biochemical pathways in the liver important for dealing with sugars. Thus, a large intake of fructose or HFCS can lead to a buildup of triglycerides in the bloodstream. Triglycerides are a type of fat, so if you’re watching your blood lipids, or fats in the bloodstream, processed sugars can be a culprit. Some sources also link increasing levels of type 2 diabetes with increased intake of processed foods. Processed foods, processed sugars, and increased levels of lipids or fats also coexist with rising rates of obesity, which are occurring in alarming numbers in both children and adults. 
 
Watching how much sugar we eat, particularly refined sugar, is an important factor in eating healthfully as the temptation to find satisfaction through overeating sweets can be particularly strong. Favoring whole foods, fruits, whole grains, homemade baked goods or fare from the farmers’ market or local bakeries, and reading labels are important practices to have a healthy relationship with sweet.

Curb Your Cravings

Embrace the Life Force

Who hasn’t experienced the overwhelming desire to eat some­thing specific, whether it be chocolate , potato chips, a burger, or some other food? We’ve all experienced cravings , but we should be careful about the way in which we satisfy them. By understanding what your body is actually deficient in (assuming it is a physical, not an emotional food craving ) you can get to the root cause of the crav­ings, and eventually kick them all together.

Before you satisfy your cravings, drink a tall glass of pure water. Quite often we misinterpret our body’s signal for thirst as a signal of hunger. By drinking a tall glass of water first, you may be giving your body exactly what it wants and alleviate cravings altogether. Some experts estimate that up to 80 percent of the population is chronically dehydrated, so start with water before you try to decipher your cravings.  Then, wait at least half an hour before you satisfy them.  Read on to learn more about what your cravings might mean.  And, of course, always strive to eat something that gets to the heart of your cravings.  For example, if you crave chocolate you may have a magnesium deficiency.  Choose to eat foods higher in magnesium such as nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy greens.
 
Chocolate: Cravings for chocolate often indicate that your body is deficient in magnesium, which is a common deficiency. Eat foods high in magnesium, such as nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy greens.
 
Sweets: If you crave sweets you may be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations. Giving in to cookies, cakes, candies, or other refined sweets will only make the problem worse and cause a blood sugar roller coaster that leads to more crav­ings. Instead, choose a piece of fruit when you’re craving sweets. And, regularly choose more high-fiber foods like beans and legumes, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains keep your blood sugar stable.
 
Salty Foods: Cravings for salty foods like popcorn or chips often indicate stress hormone fluctuations in the body. Getting on top of the stress in your life is step one. Try medita­tion , breathing exercises, or other stress management techniques . Research at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City showed that people who take a break to breathe deeply or meditate before reach­ing for salty snacks reduced their stress hormones by 25 percent and cut the bingeing in half.
 
Red Meat: Not surprisingly, cravings for red meat usually indicate an iron deficiency. Often people crave burgers or steaks. Women of menstruation age are especially vulnerable to iron deficiencies. Eat more iron-rich beans and legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs, and other dried fruits.
 
Cheese: Cravings for cheese or pizza often indicate a fatty acid de­ficiency, which is common in most people. Eat foods such as raw walnuts, wild salmon, flax oil; add ground flaxseeds to your diet.
 
Reaching for junk foods at the onset of cravings will only satisfy them temporarily. Making dietary changes that address deficiencies or imbalances can help eliminate them altogether.

Ready to curb your cravings? Post your health intent and find community support and content to help you achieve it! 

Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC, is a six-time and best-selling book author whose works include:  The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan.  She is a doctor of natural medicine, holistic nutritionist, and holistic life coach®.  Visit:  www.TheLifeForceDiet.com to learn more.

Top Five Tips for Handling Emotional Eating and Cravings

The connection between food and mood for humans is generally immense. We eat to celebrate; we eat if we feel sad; we eat to ‘reward’ ourselves; we eat because someone gives us something and we feel ‘obliged’. Ironically, we rarely seem to eat simply to fuel the physical body. Yet we tend to so rarely discuss our strong emotional connections to food. Some people may never even have given it a thought.

At the same time, many people feel that they struggle with cravings for foods they don’t truly want to eat, or they hanker for excessive amounts of food. Why do cravings happen? Well, a big reason of course is that until you remove the ‘foods’ that are highly physiologically addictive (such as processed starches and refined sugars) from the intake completely, they remain in your system and you stay addicted. Beyond the physiological addiction, however, there is much more to consider: the psychological aspects.

Most of us form emotional associations with food at a very young age. Children are routinely given food to pacify them, cheer them up, reward them and so on. This creates strong psychological bonds between our feelings and our food. Children are often coerced into eating when they’re not hungry, finishing meals ‘to make Mummy happy’ and so on. Eating thus becomes a way of getting approval and finding comfort and happiness. It is mostly a false kind of happiness though, when examined more closely. Far from bringing genuine joy, the child gets hooked into life-long patterns of ‘using’ foods that are potentially damaging. There is a genuine joy in life far sweeter than any candy bar, which we can all access at any moment simply by choosing to pay attention to our true feelings and coming into alignment with what is ‘natural’, i.e., nature. 

When one adopts a lifestyle rich in fresh raw foods (like I did back in May 2002, releasing 160 pounds of excess fat as a result), the common addicted relationship with food can change dramatically, as we’re no longer taking in toxic, processed foods that are physiologically addictive and cause the most damage – thus, half the ‘battle’ is already won. Changing what you eat can make a great deal of difference. However, the eating patterns we have established with food over many years – for comfort, excitement, reward and so on – do not simply vanish overnight, just by going raw.

It is common to find people still acting out self-destructive patterns around food decades into life. For example, you might see a fifty-year-old woman still diving for the ice cream tub every time she feels hurt. Once embedded, these patterns can be tough to shift.

We tend to crave familiarity and the sense of comfort that eating those ‘binge’ foods brings. The cravings are a reflection of the associations in our heads between food and comfort. However, those associations have as much validity as we choose to give them. They can be restructured at any time, with new thought patterns, beliefs, choices and actions. The more you keep moving into new patterns, the less the old cravings will affect you. They fade with time and consistency.

Let’s take a look at five top tips to help you re–structure your emotional relationship with food, taken from my book ‘Raw Emotions’:

1. ‘Head Hunger’ vs. ‘True Hunger’.

When we get the impulse to eat something, we often assume it’s the stomach talking rather than the mind. However, try asking yourself this: do you really ‘need’ this food that you desire, to be physically nourished and well? Or is it just your mind asking for something to distract itself with, for emotional satisfaction?

Try reflecting on what it is that you want to eat. When we are truly hungry, we usually feel like we could eat anything (of course, usually within any pre-defined dietary boundary, such as ‘any raw vegan food’ for a raw vegan, for example). If, on the other hand, your hunger is directed specifically at ‘that’ piece of raw carrot cake (for example) and you’re not really interested in anything else, this suggests that the hunger is coming more from the mind. The mind wants to have the experience of eating that cake, even if your physical body isn’t really ready for it. Remember: what the mind wants isn’t necessarily beneficial for the body.

You can gently ask yourself: when did I last eat? Has that food digested yet? Do I genuinely feel a sense of ‘pulling’ and emptiness in my stomach? Would I eat something else right now, other than what I’m thinking of eating? Remember that cravings come and go; this too shall pass. Instead of jumping in with a knee-jerk response to a craving, we can step back and ask ourselves a few quick questions like this, to gain a clearer perspective on what’s happening.

2. Drink Water & Teas

Often, what we’ve learned to interpret as hunger is, in fact, thirst. Most people are chronically dehydrated. Whenever you feel hunger or cravings, make it a habit to drink at least a full glass of pure water. You may find that the hunger/craving vanishes… Other ‘phantom’ hungers can result from eating lots of fatty/salty foods or foods that have not digested well; we might get odd sensations in our physical body that we interpret as hunger. Again, if we wait for a while or drink some water, we’ll commonly find that these sensations dissipate.
Drinking warm teas can also be very useful for pacifying emotional hunger/cravings. Reaching for a cup of warm, caffeine-free, herbal tea as an alternative to any ‘Trigger’ foods, can help you to feel that sense of warmth, comfort and satisfaction, without the burden of a food binge. This is especially useful if you are in a cold climate, plus it’s extra hydration for the body and can bring the bonus of some great nutrients. I recommend teas such as ginger to warm, rooibus or peppermint to soothe, pau d’arco for anti-candida properties and so on. Some raw foodists don’t drink warm teas, for the same reason they don’t eat warmed foods. I like warm tea though and feel it’s a useful tool for certain times; perhaps just don’t use boiling hot water.

3. Reach Out to Others

If you’re on the brink of a binge, try reaching your hand towards the phone, rather than the fridge door. Speaking with someone else about what is happening for us can make all the difference, helping us to step outside the circles in our heads. A phone may not even be necessary; maybe at the end of a meal with a loved one, you feel compelled to keep eating. Expressing your feelings about this may help you to end the meal then, rather than ‘acting out’ and eating more than you’d intended.

When we are isolated in our own thoughts, patterns and perspective, it’s easy to go in negative circles in our heads focusing on ‘problems’. Extrovert: reach out to others, get active, get involved, get out of your head and into your heart.

I highly recommend seeking out connection with others who resonate with the experiences you’re having, especially sharing together in a group circle setting. An issue pondered in isolation can seem immense, whereas sharing that same issue with others who understand, may help make it seem not only manageable, but also easier to transform. There are many local support groups where you can find loving encouragement and also plenty of online resources for connecting to like–minded others (see www.therawfoodworld.com/ic for example).

4. End of Meal Activities

Having activities planned for immediately after eating can be a great incentive for ending a meal. This doesn’t necessarily need to involve physical activity, just something to help draw you away from thoughts of eating more – perhaps a phone call to a friend, tidying up a drawer or writing a letter. Planning activities that are far away from the kitchen/location of food in your home is a good idea.

Reinforce good feelings about your choices by thinking to yourself with gratitude at the end of a meal something such as, ‘Wow, what a feast that was’, rather than the common ‘Well…that’s it, I guess…’ that many food addicts dread. This helps in situations when you’ve finished what you intended to eat and your mind seems to be asking for more.

Here’s another simple tip if you find it hard to stop eating after a meal: brush your teeth and you’re less likely to want to keep eating, with a mouth full of minty-fresh whites…

Keeping our fingers and/or teeth ‘busy’ with something other than eating can help us to not binge too. You might employ your fingers, for example, in some knitting, puzzle-work or plant-tending. Chewing on raw licorice sticks or sugar cane stalks might keep your teeth entertained. You can also purchase ‘jaw exercisers’ that help keep your mouth engaged, while simultaneously strengthening your jaw and teeth. If our fingers and teeth are already involved in activity, we might find we’re less likely to reach out for food.

5. Journalling

Use the power of the written word to help keep you on track. If you’re feeling low about your eating habits, get pen to paper and write down exactly what you’re feeling and thinking, right then. Similarly, at points when you’re feeling very clear and focused about your eating (often first thing in the morning), make notes – what are you feeling at this point? What are you thinking? What are you eating these days? What are you not eating? How much water do you drink? These written notes can be invaluable if you find yourself in a sticky place with your food choices again. In challenging moments, you can refer to these notes for a bigger perspective on your patterns and hopefully find the inspiration to stay on track.

Another useful exercise to try when you are in a clear, steady space, is to do some writing about overeating. How does overeating seem when you are in this balanced state? Making such notes might help you to start feeling more like an ‘observer’ of the often impulsive and irrational action of overeating. It can even seem absurd to contemplate overeating when we are in that space of stillness and calmness. The more we can separate ourselves from that impulsiveness, the less likely we are to act out, when we next feel the pull to overeat.

You may also find it useful to use visual cues in your journal, such as old photos of yourself, a picture that captures your optimal vision for your life, grocery receipts or anything else that helps inspire you to stay on track.

I hope these tips have given you some ‘food for thought’; remember, we have a choice in every moment. Just because we may have consistently used food as our ‘safety net’ in the past does not mean we must continue to do so now. We are always free to restructure our relationship with food…and whatever issue you may be dealing with in life, unless it is true physical hunger, the answer is not in the fridge 😉

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Award-winning author Angela Stokes lost an amazing 160lbs with a raw lifestyle, reversing morbid obesity. Her most recent book ‘Raw Emotions’ explores raw food transformations beyond the physical level.
30-year-old Angela went raw in May 2002 and her life has since dramatically transformed. Her website, www.RawReform.com shares her amazing story of recovery, along with guidance and inspiration for others. She shares videos, before/after pictures and also blogs almost daily (http://rawreform.blogspot.com). Angela offers books, retreats, consultations and lectures internationally on raw foods.
 

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