We all get food cravings from time to time, but if you’re fighting off cravings on a daily basis, you need to arm yourself with the right foods! Nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos is here to tell us what constant cravings mean!
IF YOU ARE CRAVING SUGAR…
REASON: Sugar cravings can be caused by:
- Blood sugar imbalances and Insulin resistance
- Candida – yeast overgrowth in the intestinal system
EAT THIS INSTEAD: PROTEIN!
- Lean protein, such as chicken, fish, and eggs, helps to balance blood sugar levels. Protein acts as a blood-sugar stabalizer by slowing down the rate at which sugar is absorbed in your blood stream.
- Chicken is rich in chromium which is a mineral that helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduce carb cravings. Chromium is a mineral essential in regulating the body’s response to insulin. (You can also take a chromium supplement.)
- Sweet spices: Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar and insulin levels. Studies show that cinnamon improves the body’s ability to utilize the insulin it already produces by enhancing muscle and liver cells’ response to insulin.
- Probiotics – Candida is a yeast overgrowth in the intestinal system that feeds off of sugar. Probiotics help to replace the “bad” yeast colonies with good, benefitial bacteria and help to overcome yeast overgrowth.
- Peu d’arco Tea helps to overcome yeast overgrowth by assisting in the treatment of fungal infections.
IF YOU ARE CRAVING CARBOHYDRATES…
REASON: Carb cravings mean low levels of serotonin (in addition to blood sugar balances as noted above). Serotonin is our “feel good” neurotransmitter. If we are feeling down and depressed our serotonin levels may be too low. Carbs actually increase serotonin levels making us feel good “temporarily,” without necessarily dealing with the issue at hand. And in the end, they leave us feeling more bloated, fat and depressed.
EAT THIS INSTEAD:
Choose foods rich in tryptophan, such as sacha inchi seeds, turkey, or wholegrains like quinoa. Tryptophan is a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Complex carbohydrates, such as quinoa, oats or sweet potatoes, increase the absorption of tryptophan stimulating serotonin production. However, complex carbs/wholegrains are also richer in protein and nutrients than refined carbs; they keep us fuller longer and curb cravings.
Sacha Inchi seeds:
- Sacha inchi seeds are one of the highest sources of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino responsible for the production of serotonin.
- Sacha inchi seeds contain the highest plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to alleviate depression .
*Turkey is also high in tryptophan
Complex Carbs – Quinoa
Carbohydrates increase the rate at which tryptophan enters the brain. These complex carbohydrates are also high in tryptophan, promoting the calming effects of serotonin production. Eating carbohydrates with tryptophan-containing foods makes this calming amino acid more available to the brain. Quinoa is also rich in B-vitamins, essential for mental health.
ARE YOU CONSTANTLY CRAVING CHOCOLATE?
Research suggests that up to 97% of women and 68% of men experience food cravings. Chocolate is the most common one of the craved foods. Almost 50% of women reportedly claim to prefer chocolate to sex!
REASON: What you body could really be craving is Magnesium, B6, or B12. Chocolate releases endorphins, which suppress pain triggers, and give us a euphoric feeling. Magnesium also helps to relax nerves and tension that alleviate pain triggers.
HAVE THIS INSTEAD:
- Raw cacao nibs – raw chocolate is the highest source of magnesium!
- Blue-green algae (E3 Live) contains 50 times more PEA than chocolate, giving you that “happy love bug” feeling!
- Go for a run, exercise, have sex! These activities release the same endorphins, and not only are they calorie-free, but will actually help BURN calories! And they don’t cost a cent!
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THOSE SALTY FOODS?
Many times, if we are over-stressed or anxious over long periods of time, we can exhaust our adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands, located on top of our kidneys, are responsible for distributing several hormones through our body, including cortisol (which is our stress response hormone) and aldosterone, which regulates sodium levels. When our adrenals are compromised due to stress, it causes our body to search for essential nutrients and minerals to compensate. In addition, our adrenals may produce less aldosterone, which results in an excessive loss of sodium through the kidneys, and we begin to crave salt.
HAVE THIS INSTEAD:
- B-vitamins: B-vitamins are essential for mental health and serve many functions in the brain and nervous system. B-vitamin help your body respond and adapt to stress. In particular, B5 helps the body adapt to stress and supports the adrenal gland function. B6 is useful in correcting elevated cortisol levels. Because B-vitamins are water-soluble, they pass through your body quickly, so we want to make sure we replenish them regularly.
- Natural sea salt: natural sea salts are unrefined (unlike table salt) and still retain the minerals your body needs to function optimally.
- Passion Flower is a calming herb that helps to improve the activity of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps you relax.
- Relora: relora is an herbal supplement that is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. It works to reduce cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and raise DHEA (coined the “anti-aging hormone”) which helps to control stress, maintain proper mineral balance, and can help increase lean mass and reduce body fat.
DO YOU HAVE AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST?
If you find yourself ALWAYS thirsty no matter how much you’re drinking, you may be washing away precious electrolytes and your body may be lacking the minerals needed to absorb fluids.
TRY THIS INSTEAD:
- Coconut water – naturally loaded in electrolytes to help quench your thirst and restore precious minerals. Also makes a great hangover remedy! (It solves the dehydration issue that causes nausea and headache!)
- Emergen-C Electro mix – this is a powder that contains all your electrolytes. Just mix with water and you have an instant sports drink!