It’s the beginning of the year and you promised yourself you would work on your eating habits, for real this time. And you’ve been doing really well! Cooking healthy foods is actually...kinda fun...once you get used to it. But then you hear it.
Ohhh mama, chocolate sounds so good. Chocolate cake. Fudgy brownies. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies.
I need it all!
Cravings can be the worst, especially when you are really trying to change your eating habits. They seem to exist just to tempt you in your most vulnerable moments. It can be so frustrating to feel like you have no self-control when a craving kicks in. How dare you entice me when I’ve committed to eating carrots for dessert!
As annoying and devil-on-the-shoulder as cravings can seem, it’s likely they are trying to tell you something. And no, it’s not “just eat the whole bag of chips, don’t worry, no one is looking!”
There are a few reasons why you might be experiencing food cravings:
Hormonal Shift - Female bodies follow a cycle about every 28 days, where the hormones estrogen and progesterone do a little dance and prepare the body for pregnancy. When the body detects there is no pregnancy, progesterone levels drop in preparation for menstruation. This drop often causes a drop in serotonin, the “happy hormone”. The body will then crave carbs and fats to increase the level of serotonin, which is why you may crave salty or sugary foods right before you get your period!
Nutritional Deficiency - the body is smart and knows that if it’s not getting what it needs to stay healthy, it will alert your brain to crave certain foods. The unfortunate part is that we often crave fatty and sugar foods when what really we need is vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Here’s a short (but not all-inclusive) list to help decipher your cravings and what you should eat:
Chocolate → Magnesium → nuts, fruits, veggies
Sugar → chromium, carbon, phosphorus → broccoli, grapes, cheese, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes
Bread/Carbs → Nitrogen → high protein foods: meat, fatty fish, beans
Salt → Chloride → fatty fish, nuts
Pro Tip: If you know you usually crave bread & carbs, work to regularly add in meals like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed meat, or bean-rich meals like chili to supply your body with nutrients like nitrogen BEFORE you go on a pasta/bread binge.
Stress - When the body is stressed, it might not be getting restful sleep, which will disturb the delicate balance of hormones and make your body think it’s hungry when it isn’t. Also when stressed, you may find you are lacking joy in life and cope with it by eating something comforting. These can both be solved by understanding and resolving the stress.
High Processed Foods - Some processed foods, like Doritos, are specifically designed to be addictive because the taste doesn’t last as long on the tongue so it tricks the body into wanting more of it! This goes for most foods with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). MSG causes the brain to over-excite and want more, so watch out for foods containing MSG.
What can you do to kick the cravings:
Drink more water - Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you to feel satiated (not hungry) because your body is properly hydrated. Aim to drink ⅔ of your body weight in ounces of water per day! That way if you fall short, you are still getting plenty of water.
Be intentional during your cycle - There are many apps out there that help you track your menstrual cycle. Being aware of where you are in your cycle will clue you in to the reasons behind many of your symptoms, such as mood swings, energy levels, and cravings. Eat more calcium and vitamin D foods during the luteal phase (the weeks after ovulation & before bleeding) to help prevent PMS cravings.
Resolve stress with NET - If you think your cravings are related to stress, or you aren’t sure and want to find out, schedule an appointment for Neuro Emotional Technique so we can get to the bottom of the issue. Once your emotional stress is in balance, you may find many of your symptoms go away on their own!