Naturopathic Nutrition – Curb your cravings

The connection between food and mood in humans is generally immense. We eat to celebrate, to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves and because someone gives us something and we feel obliged.

Ironically, we rarely eat to simply fuel our physical body. It seems we need to strike a balance between these two scenarios.

Sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates are probably the most addictive and most often craved, with sugar being king. The reason for this is to do with our blood sugars – when we eat these foods we get a rapid rise in our blood sugars (sugar spike) shortly followed by an extreme dip (sugar crash) – this dip makes us crave an offending food again to bring our blood sugars back up so that we can feel good again, which over the course of a day can turn into quite a rollercoaster!

There is also the issue that some foods are designed to be craved – High Fructose Corn Syrup (a sugar alternative) amongst other things are added to processed and junk foods (even ones that are not sweet e.g. French fries) as it is incredibly addictive, people toil in labs for hours on end to establish these addictive tastes – the perfect balance between synthetic sugars and salt to make us want more.

Cravings can also be signals for nutrient deficiencies: craving chocolate indicates you may have a Magnesium deficiency; cheese cravings can indicate an Omega 3 deficiency while craving white starchy carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cakes etc) may indicate a Chromium deficiency. Chromium helps to balance our blood sugars and is fantastic for cravings generally.

Cravings can often be a reflection of the association in our heads between food and comfort. However, those associations have as much validity as we choose to give them – they can be restructured at any time through new thought patterns, habits and choices and will fade with time and consistency. Eat with awareness. What do you feel like eating? Why? What does your body need? Emotions, energy levels, habit and mood all dictate our food choices – feed emotional hunger with emotional food.

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. Check for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.

Nicky Flood