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How to hack your cravings

How to hack your cravings

| JUL 11, 2016

Once you understand what’s causing your cravings, it’s much simpler to tackle them and stop them for good.  We all have cravings at some point or other, that’s normal.  But when a craving returns on a daily basis this can mean there’s a nutritional deficiency or a hormone imbalance Notice what your craving is, because it’s very often a message to your brain from your body that a part of you needs some attention. 

Stress feeds cravings 

Cravings can be an important signal for your body, flagging that you’re under too much stress or need some emotional nurturing.  You may be suffering a loss or feeling the pressure of everyday demands, for example motherhood or building your career.  You’re probably not experiencing the ‘downtime’ that you need to rest. Your sleep might be disrupted which also adds to the problem.  They can all lead to craving foods like alcohol, sugar, salt, coffee and of course, chocolate.

Cravings can be an important signal for your body, flagging that you’re under too much stress or need some emotional nurturing.

These stimulating foods or drinks can bring feelings of relief, happiness, strength and confidence.  Unfortunately, the good feelings they bring are short lived, like the pump of energy a sugary treat or coffee brings, or feeling relaxed after a few glasses of your favourite wine.  The cravings then return to take you back to the pleasant feelings they bring.  This cycle can fuel your battle with weight too. 


Dehydration plays a role in cravings 

When you feel a craving coming (for example, coffee, something sweet, or salty crisps) the first thing to ask yourself is ‘am I actually hungry?’  When your body’s dehydrated you’re much more likely to have cravings.  Coffees throughout the day will dehydrate you, so try sipping on fluids like water or herb tea.  Try and replace your coffee or chocolate bar with a drink of water or a caffeine free tea, and allow yourself to rehydrate for the next 30 minutes.  You’ll need to exercise some will power here, but give this test a go.  After you drink fluids that hydrate you properly, do you still feel the craving as strongly?  Try flavouring the water with lemon, chopped apple and cucumber, or with mint leaves.  The flavour in the water will encourage you to drink more of it.  It’ll rehydrate you quickly, and the simple job of hydrating your body can take the power out of your cravings.  Adding fruit and mint also adds vitamins and antioxidants to the water. 

Are you low in Magnesium? 

Sometimes your body craves what your body nutritionally needs.  A prime example of this is chocolate.  Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, and is often called the ‘relaxation mineral’.  This is because it keeps you calm and better able to handle stress.  A magnesium deficiency is quite common because it can be depleted by busy lifestyles and prolonged stress.  If you don’t eat enough green leafy veg, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, your magnesium stores are likely to be low.  Make sure you have plenty throughout the day, by putting lots of green veggies in a salad for work, or taking pots of nuts and seeds to snack on.  This will really help to calm your cravings that might be driven by stress.  We like soaking in Epsom Salt because the magnesium is absorbed really well and quickly through the skin.  


Breakfast and good fats to hack your cravings 

Sugar cravings can also signal blood sugar imbalances, and this often stems from having the wrong type of breakfast.  If you have cravings, it’s important to make time for breakfast.  If you start your day with a cup of tea, toast or cereal, this will put your body on a blood sugar ‘high’ because the glucose will fill your blood very rapidly.  Caffeine on an empty stomach will also add to this problem.  The best thing to do is include lots of protein with your breakfast, this will really help to stop cravings throughout the day.  This includes food like eggs, nuts and seeds, or oats, which are all popular breakfast staples Your body needs food groups like protein and fat to nourish hormones, your brain, and your nervous system, all of which are involved in food cravings. 

The best thing to do is include lots of protein with your breakfast, this will really help to stop cravings throughout the day.

If the right nutrients aren’t in your diet, your brain will signal ‘I need a shot of glucose’ because it’s the quickest way for your brain to get energy.  Simple carbs like bread or anything sugary will quickly answer your brain’s demands for glucose.  So you crave them.  You can break the craving by eating some protein and fats early in the day.  Seeds like pumpkin, flax or chia are great choices, full of healthy fats like Omega 3s and minerals.  Eggs are full of good fats too.  Try changing your breakfasts, and vary them throughout the week.  Your cravings should start to go and it may also help you meet your weight loss goals if you have any.  


Top up your sleep 

It’s possible that your hormone system is a bit ‘wired’ because of lack of sleep.  For example, hormones signal hunger or thirst to your brain, and if you’re tired, these hormones can have signal faults and send the wrong message.  There’s a hormone called leptin that tells your brain that its full after eating.  Ghrelin is a hormone that tells your brain when it’s hungry.  When you haven’t had sufficient sleep and rest, ghrelin can start sending requests to eat all day, and leptin doesn’t signal efficiently to stop.  If you give your body nutrients, rest and sleep, your leptin and ghrelin hormones will work more harmoniously and those unwelcome cravings should stop 

Tips to remember 

  • Alcohol, sugar, caffeine and processed food all make your body’s pH too acidic, and this feeds cravings. 
  • Increase alkaline forming foods to balance your body’s pH like veggies, berries, almonds, coconut, fish oil and chia seeds.  
  • Regular gentle exercise increases endorphins and helps to eliminate cravings. 
  • Rehydrate yourself at regular intervals; drink water and non-caffeinated teas. 
  • Healthy sleep will keep your hormones happy. 
  • When you eat carbohydrates, make sure they are whole grains, veggies and fruit and not processed ones. 

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