Have you ever gone to the moon and back just to satisfy a craving?
High schoolers, college kids – your late night snacking – you people know what I’m talking about.
Those of you who have experienced pregnancy – you people know what I’m talking about.
Speaking of, during my first pregnancy, there was a span of about 3 months where I could not get enough of melons. Honeydew. Watermelon. Cantaloupe. Strange-looking, foreign varieties. And I would tear into the package on my drive from the market, shamelessly scarfing pre-sliced fruit as I drove the return trip home. There’s nothing like that moment of raw hilarity where you glance out your driver’s side window as you wipe away sugary juice dribbles from your chin.
Cravings…are they really so bad?
Well, cravings aren’t really bad or good. Basically, they’re just the voice of your inner physiology, shouting out a hidden need (and mesmerizing your tastebuds while doing it). Cravings could be “essentially a habit you’ve ensconced in the brain pathway,” in other words, just a familiar behavior that has become a part of your life, according to Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Michael Roizen.
What you do with these cravings is where it starts getting interesting. Armed with the info I am about to share, you can make better decisions about how to navigate (and master) those moments of desire.
Common Cravings, Decoded:
(Please note that cravings and suggestions are not an exhaustive list.)
Craving: SUGAR & Sweets
What it may mean: Addiction to sugar (joking, but, really rather serious on this one; sugar is 8 times more addictive than crack cocaine) (1).
Solution: A sugar addiction normally takes about 4-6 weeks to kick. People with faith have experienced an instant deliverance from addictions just by standing on the Word of God and being set free by the power of Holy Spirit. If you’re looking at it from a purely physical standpoint, it will take a little time. It may feel super tough, but get off sugar “cold turkey”. In 2 weeks’ time, it is said that your tastebuds begin to change, which is a real act of mercy. What you can do is begin to substitute natural sugars for processed ones, like indulging in organic maple syrup, raw honey, or fruit. Go for up to 2 fruits (or about 24 grams) of natural sweet things a day. Then, switch your culinary attentions to savory dishes, and begin to collect a list of your favorites. One dish which always satisfies me is homemade guacamole. Or, I go for finely-chopped cabbage salad with Annie’s Sesame Shiitake Salad dressing. Absolutely droolingly scrumptious. Maybe you’d prefer a hot bowl of rice noodle soup with some toasted sesame oil, frozen mixed veggies, a little raw white miso, and some chopped jalapenos. Whatever the go-to, make it a powerhouse go-to.
Craving: Salty foods
What it may mean: Your body could be signaling you that it is dehydrated, or perhaps lacking in electrolytes. By urging you to eat salt, your body knows that thirst is likely to follow, and that you’re going to want to slake that thirst. Hydration begins: check. It could also be that you are lacking in an essential mineral or electrolyte. There are 4 basic electrolytes that are utilized by the human body: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. And there are scores of minerals and trace minerals that we need. It could also be that you have adrenal fatigue, as a sodium craving can be a signal that your endocrine system has a deficit (2). One additional explanation is that you might need to beef up your microbiome.
Solution: Adding salt to your diet, even sea salt won’t necessarily solve the problem. In fact, it could create the environment for which high blood pressure can occur. Yes, you can supplement with a low-to-moderate amount of Himalayan pink sea salt, purportedly the best kind of culinary salt. However, if you can get the salt within a food, so much the better. Zucchini squash, celery, and pasture-raised eggs are 3 examples of foods containing salt in wonderful organic form, which your liver utilizes with pleasure. You can nosh on dehydrated zucchini chips, savory soups, celery sticks with nut or seed butters, etc. You can also enjoy condiments like coconut aminos (or even Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, though they are is [non-GMO] soy-based). My clients have stated that eating fermented foods really helps satisfy unusual salt cravings.
Craving: Chocolate, snacks, or extra food that are PMS-related
What it may mean: You are low in a necessary nutrient. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen and progesterone are increased, and can affect food cravings.
Solution: Supplement with a good quality B-vitamin, including a sublingual B-12 vitamin. Also use a magnesium spray at night-time before bed, or try a quality calcium-magnesium supplement. Chocolate cravings are usually indications that you need magnesium and/or calcium. Evening Primrose Oil capsultes and Red Clover tea are great for helping to balance out menstrual cycle issues. Stop sugar if you currently eat it. If you must have chocolate (but without the sugar), try the decadent treats made by SkinnyMe Chocolates. They contain zero sugar, and the taste is to CRY for!
Craving: Red meat/hamburgers
What it may mean: You need iron, zinc, or protein.
Solution: You can try indulging in an organic, grassfed (pastured) hamburger meat. Try mixing it with a little miso and chopped onions, then cooking it stove top in patties. Enjoy it without a bun and with plenty of fresh sides, if you like.
What it may mean: You could be a mouse. Actually, cheese is highly addictive because it contains natural opiates. (Yes, this is true! Does it make sense now why you love it so much?) Baby animals are given extra incentive to nurse when their mother’s milk is…slightly addictive. God created it this way. Cheese is also a very fatty food. Our cells require good fats in order to function properly – every cell in the body! However, cheese is not the greatest source of fat, as it is believed by many to be too acidic (vs. alkaline), loaded with sodium, generally pasteurized, and it contains enzymes which health experts have considered to be toxic (3). Cheese is a dairy product, and pastured organic dairy products contain vitamins D and A (largely missing in conventional dairy, so they try to fortify it), so you may be needing one of those key vitamins. Remember that you need to take vitamins A, D, and K2 (grassfed butter, etc.) together in order for them to be properly metabolized.
Solution: Enjoy good fats – raw milk, organic, un-processed coconut oil, cold-pressed organic olive oil, grassfed butter, nuts & seeds, grapeseed oil, and more.
Craving: Late-night snacking.
What it may mean: You need more sleep, or more rest in your life.
Solution: Eat dinner by no later than 6:30 or 7:00pm. Have a very small snack, consisting of something like a fruit and a good fat around 9pm. Try to be in bed with the lights out by 10pm. Take 1-3mg of Melatonin each evening at around 9:30pm for a couple of weeks to help with a new sleep rhythm.
Craving: Non-food items, like ice, clay, dirt, or chalk.
What it may mean: You may very well have a mineral deficiency.
Solution: Fill up on greens, try nuts and grains, and also go for supplements that re-mineralize you, like Restore – Gut Health Mineral Supplement.
2. Wilson, James L., N.D., D.C., PhD. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Smart Publications: Petaluma, CA. 2001, 2011. Pg. 137.