However committed, motivated or however much you want to feel better about yourself, cravings are one thing that can turn you into somebody else, cause you to lose all dignity, and totally derail all of your healthy intentions.
Its ok when it only happens occasionally, and I always say you should never restrict anything in your diet. Some foods are better eaten only very occasionally as a special treat, or if you have an allergy or intolerance to something obviously these should be avoided, but generally if you are eating in a way that compliments your health most of the time, eating that food you really love won’t hurt or derail your goals!
“True health is a balanced diet, one that you enjoy and allows you the occasional ‘treat’ without feeling guilty about it”
There are many reasons for cravings, both emotional and physiological, and not just because you lack will power or the ability to say no to that chocolate, cake, pizza, crisps or whatever else you crave.
Below are a few of them and some things that may help!
1). A blood sugar imbalance is a huge reason I see with clients, especially if you crave sweet or starchy foods like bread or pastries. When blood sugar levels fluctuate your body craves mostly sweet and refined carbohydrates, which then just keeps the problem going over the day. Eating more protein and fat especially in the morning, and then at each meal, will help get this under control, and also making sure you don’t go long periods without eating.
2). There’s not a lot of science that supports the theory behind specific nutrient deficiencies causing cravings as it always seems to be nutrient poor food that people crave i.e chocolate, pastries, pizza. It’s often thought that if you crave chocolate you must be deficient in magnesium for example, but a better source would be leafy greens, nuts and beans, and I don’t know many who crave these!
Certain nutrient deficiencies however, such as B vitamins which utilize energy, and zinc deficiency, which impairs your ability to taste food, may be the reason for over eating or increased cravings. It may be worth getting tested for deficiencies in some cases. However, the best place to start is making sure you’re eating a nutrient dense diet, lots of colour, vitamins and minerals, and of course adequate protein and healthy fats.
3) Digestive imbalances such as low stomach acid, a compromised digestion and an imbalanced microbiota may also cause cravings and over eating. Digestive support such as digestive enzymes may help. It has also been shown that certain kinds of bacteria for example, thrive on certain foods so if you have an over-abundance of these kind of bacteria you are more likely to crave a certain kind of food.
4) Probably goes without saying but one of the simplest ways to reduce cravings is by ensuring you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Such a simple thing but nearly everyone I speak to admits they don’t drink enough!
5) Cravings and overeating may also be a sign of hidden food intolerances or sensitivities, which are known to trigger cravings as well as make you more likely to succumb to your cravings because of the negative affects they have on your health and well-being. If you think any particular food is affecting you, you could try a period of elimination, or go for testing.
6). Finally I’ve gotta say! Trying to eat healthy is rarely about the food! Its normally stress, anxiety, low mood, negative thinking or low self- esteem that drives cravings and overeating. The imbalances discussed above are very important and will also impact mood and mental health but studies also show that the way you handle stress, physical or psychological, play a role in cravings and has an impact on hormones such as leptin which controls your appetite.
Its being aware of the emotional reason and tackling that! This might be the one thing that may help you to control those cravings and overeating.
“Your relationship with food is very often a reflection of how you feel about yourself”
So, making an extra effort to relax, exercise, go for that walk, or manage your stress through regular deep breathing, meditation, or maybe finding fun and enjoyment, might be what you need to gain some control over cravings and overeating. In some circumstances seeking outside help might be the answer. Your health and well-being is worth it!
The problem with cravings and overeating, even if its overeating healthy food the harmful effects can really derail your ability to get on top of your health. The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help!
We always tend to think complicated but most often it is the simplest of habits that people struggle to implement, and the simplest things that will make the biggest difference. Getting the basics in place, eating a nutrient rich diet, drinking enough water and managing stress or emotional drivers is definitely the first place to start. Looking at the imbalances alongside this can then make a difference.
I hope this helps and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, queries or support!