We all have them! Those pesky cravings that seem to always get in the way of our weight management goals. We set our intentions, even create a meal plan, but somehow we find ourselves in the rink for a fight we never signed up for.
And unlike Mike Tyson, we are the ones that end up taking the bite.
So what gives? Where do cravings come from, and how can we politely ask them to leave?
There are several reasons for our cravings: While some of them may be emotional, more often than not, they are the result of a physical response in the body. Although still annoying, the good news is that they can be curbed with some lifestyle and diet changes, paving the way for health goal success.
Your gut microbiome: If you feed it, it will grow, and then scream for more!
Our gut bacteria are like infants, highly demanding and vocal about their needs. Whatever you feed will grow. Some gut bacteria love sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more the sugar-loving bacteria will grow, and so will your cravings for sugar. Not all bacteria is bad. In fact, the good gut bacteria can actually help curb some of those cravings. It's a game of numbers. We always want the good gut bacteria to be in higher supply than those sugar craving ones. The good news is, both respond to being fed certain foods. So while it is important to remove sugar so that the sugar loving ones leave, it is just as important to feed the good guys so they can help out number the bad ones.
Takeaway: Cravings can be triggered by an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome. It’s important to eliminate foods that cause the bad guys to grow, as well as increase the foods that feed the good guys. The right balance of bacteria will help to mitigate cravings.
Nutrient Deficiency: You can be eating A LOT, and still be nutrient deficient
Nutrient deficiency leads to cravings. Even if you are eating a lot, the wrong foods do not supply our bodies with the nutrients that they need, causing nutrient deficiency. A nutrient deficient body will crave more food in hopes of receiving some of those nutrients. The problem is that a hunger cue is a hunger cue without a specified request for a specific nutrient. Hence why even if your body wants more magnesium, you may still opt for chips that do not have it. Here are some reasons for being nutrient deficient:
Eating the same thing every day
Eating too much processed food
Takeway: When our bodies are nutrient deficient, regardless of our weight, we will crave more food. Those cravings will often lead to choices that are not aligned with what our bodies truly need.
The good news is that with a proper diet, we can overcome these cravings.
Hormones: Sleep to eat less
When we talk about hormones, we often think of the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. While those do impact our carvings, the two big ones that truly play a role are leptin and ghrelin, the satiety and hunger hormones.
These two hormones are significantly impacted by the quality of our sleep. When the quality of our sleep goes down, the hunger hormone ghrelin rears its ugly head. Regardless of your plans to eat a salad for lunch, this hormone wants the junky stuff on the top shelf of your pantry.
While we often think of sleep in numbers, the real magic is in the quality. Quality is impacted by:
Blue light (screens before bed)
Takeaway: Sleep plays a vital role in keeping our hunger and satiety hormones in place.
The good news: while that Netflix series is so damn good, if you want to manage your weight, and feel great, simply prioritizing your sleep can make a huge difference.
Dehydration: we may just be thirsty!
That’s it. It's as simple as that. Sometimes we may just be thirsty and think we are hungry.
So many of us are dehydrated. Getting in the proper amount of water for you body can make the difference between your favorite jeans fitting, or not.
So when you are reaching for that salty or sweet snack, take a few sips of water first.
Good news: Staying on top of hydration can prevent those cravings. Start your day with two glasses of water, and opt for a glass before every meal. If you are working out, add an extra one to replenish the liquid that is lost.
Ways to get rid of those cravings:
Feed the good gut bacteria with fermented foods
Take a good quality probiotic. I love SEED. Use code LRW15 for 15% off.
Eliminate foods that feed the bad gut bacteria
Increase nutrient rich foods
Increase variety of the foods you eat
Increase your water in take
Prioritize sleep quality
While all of this may seem overwhelming, and perhaps even a bit confusing, it does not have to be. Your body can reset its cravings in as little as three days. Think about the freedom of not having to be on the battlefield day in and day out. How good you can feel when you eat what you know is truly good for your body, and have a waist line that comes with that. So which of these can you start doing today?
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