My food accountability group ( four of us text each other every single thing we eat along with our exercise accomplishments and our weight) inspires me to learn all I can about the best ways to stay fit and healthy AND the most effective ways to stop the madness of food cravings.
Last night I learned four helpful truths about cravings:
- If you crave salt, you are probably thirsty. Your brain will stimulate a desire for salty food, so that you will drink some some water! Before you grab another handful of popcorn or chips, stop, take one long breath ( this interrupts the primitive craving pathway in your brain and engages the smarter executive functions), step away from the counter or get up off the couch, and drink a full glass of water. Breathe in and out twice more, stretch, and see if you really want that next handful.
- If you crave sugar, you might be tired. If this is the case, before you sink your precious teeth into that enamel destroying donut, stretch and do your best to YAWN. This will flood your brain with oxygen and healing chemicals and enable you to step away from the candy jar. You also crave sugar when you are deficient in chromium and vanadium. Theses minerals are so powerful that they are used to prevent and cure diabetes (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). A craving for chocolate ( and no there is NOTHING wrong with chocolate, but cravings in general, are not an indicator of a healthy desire) is usually a sign of a magnesium deficiency. Methadone and other drugs help addicts through the early stages of withdrawa; I think food addicts would benefit by a prescription for minerals and practices that are scientifically proven to reduce cravings along with therapy, spiritual habits, and environmental changes.
- If you crave carbohydrates, you might be doing your best to ward off depression. And the absolute worst time to indulge yourself in a carbohydrate binge is at nighttime( this is a perverse and terrible trick of nature -I mean what is better than salty popcorn or chips and bad TV at the end of a long day?) If you overeat carbs at night, you’ll spike your blood sugar, preventing the helpful fat burning activity that can occur while you sleep. Instead of another piece of bread, close your eyes and take three long breaths. Feel how you feel. Call a friend, go for a walk ( exercise has been proven in study after study to prevent and stop depression!), or just cry– emotional tears actually shed stress hormones along with the water, AND they stimulate endorphins, which stop depression in its tracks. If you have a dog or a person or just yourself, practice hugging. ( I know this sounds goofy, but you can wrap your hands around your shoulders and hug yourself. It stimulates most of the good stuff caused by hugging another being!) Hugging releases tension and elevates dopamine levels, which might stop you from one more french fry. (If you really need to eat, (after all, food is here to comfort and satisfy us- deprivation almost never works for long) try sautéing some kale or another hearty vegetable in basil, olive oil and salt- this often satisfies my need for a salty snack and doesn’t seem to increase my waist line!
- If you crave fat, your brain probably needs some fatty acids-rather than oily french fries, try some added flax-seed to your oatmeal in the morning, or be sure to use some healthy olive oil in your cooking. If you are not a vegan, fish oil pills and salmon are good choices too.
It is true that cravings are not random, and food addiction is real. So remember to stop, breathe, and think.
Thank you so much for reading my post.