Food cravings are real! Just ask any present day or prehistoric mother. Long before there were pregnancy test and ultrasound imaging, mommas knew they were pregnant when their bodies started talking to them with food cravings, among other things. While we commonly hear about cravings during pregnancy, they happen to most of us all day, every day. The issue is, the natural signals our bodies send telling us ‘Hey you’re getting a little low on magnesium, maybe some nuts might be a good idea;’ the food industry steps in and say’s ‘How ‘bout a Snickers?’ It’s not entirely our own faults that most of us are walking around with our bellies overly full, yet our bodies are starved for nutrients.
The majority of the foods you’ll find at any local grocery chain or fast food establishment are stripped of nearly all their original vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and any trace nutrients that might be left are drowned by the artificial colors, flavors, additives, preservatives, refined salts, sugars, and hydrogenated oils which are added in to totally confuse and manipulate our taste buds. It’s no wonder our bodies are incredibly confused.
Visit my office and you’ll notice this is one of the only photos on the wall. It’s a snapshot of human metabolism. That big M word we often hear that ‘slows as we age’ or ‘gets scarred when we go on deprivation diets’.
The reason it gets showcased in my office, is because I want people to know what’s going on in their bodies at all times. Our bodies are complex systems. Like a car, they require regular maintenance of all our parts and pieces if we would like them to operate to the best of their ability. All the reactions you see in the above image are essential to good health. All the reactions here also require nutrients (protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) in order to operate. While some of these we can certainly get from processed foods, many of them and certainly the best are only found in REAL, WHOLE FOODS.
People like to ask me, do I have to cut out ‘(insert your favorite empty calorie, indulgent food here)’ or I really pigged out last night on ‘(same as above)’ because I knew once I saw you I would never be allowed to eat it again. They’re surprised to learn that never do I say ‘You’re not allowed to have ‘(any food on the face of the planet)’. Generally it’s not what people are eating that so bad, but what they’re missing is what I’m most concerned about.
When we slow down just a bit and really start listening to what our body tells us when we get hungry or experience cravings, and when we choose real, whole foods to satisfy those, I don’t need to tell patients to not eat a certain food… Their bodies will! Go for a week using various fruits to sweeten foods and drinks as opposed to sugar (in all of its various refined and artificial forms). Later, drink a 16oz coke and notice how your body responds. My bet, it’s not going to feel so great! But, don’t just take my word for it. Give it a go!
I know it’s a tricky world out there full of fancy foods, environmental triggers and mixed signals, so I’ve included this awesome chart to help you have an arsenal ready for when hunger strikes.
What are your go to ‘smart swaps’ when cravings hit? Tweet, comment or tag us in a post!