Food cravings are one of the most difficult challenges we face when it comes to losing weight, maintaining weight, and eating healthy. Although in their origins cravings are healthy, in the modern world they are no longer necessary. The foods we have the strongest cravings for were rare during the days of our ancestors the caveman. So we have strong cravings to make us eat as much of them as possible. But in the modern environment we have almost limitless access to all the things we desire. But our bodies don't know they are living in the modern world, and keep our cravings dialed high.
There are three types of cravings:
Accurate cravings are when we genuinely need the exact thing we are craving. This is usually limited to cravings for simple, fresh foods. If you would happily eat a few grains of salt, that's a real salt craving. Whereas if you want fries with salt, that is an association craving. Association cravings are where we expect certain foods together, in certain amounts, or at certain times. We don't need more than a piece of fruit or two a day. But if you always have five, you will crave fruit until you eat five pieces. And finally, confused cravings are where you mix up a craving for a micronutrient with a craving for a whole food. We need magnesium. But if chocolate is your richest magnesium source, then you will crave chocolate.
So how do we fight cravings?
A low carb, high fat diet is a great option. These diets work on multiple fronts to reduce food cravings and, when followed correctly, it will help you fight cravings to ensure you eat as healthy as possible.
Carbs are a food where the more we eat of them, the more we crave them. This is because they feed our insulin cycles and are easy to store. Eating lots of carbs raises our blood sugar. When our blood sugar is too high, our body releases insulin. Our insulin moves the glucose in our blood into our fat and muscle cells. That is why I call Insulin the "FAT FERTILIZER" It makes us crash and then it makes us hungry again.
How about sugar? It takes us for a satiety (not full to full feelings) rollercoaster, fat provides us the sort of slow and steady release that encourages more stable satiety. As we are already burning fat and ketones when we eat low carb, if we run out of fuel our bodies are much happier to use our own body fat. This results in a more stable appetite and fewer cravings and magically we lose weight!
The longer we go eating low carb, high fat, the more we fight the low carvings of high carbs and develop being full with high fat. When we follow this diet we are essentially retraining our bodies to think of carbs as rare, complementary calorie sources, and fats as abundant, primary calorie sources.
The best nutrients for us are flavorless, acid, or bitter. But we often avoid these foods in favor of ones that taste milder or sweeter. This means that reducing our carb intake will allow our bodies to develop new, healthy confused cravings for foods that are much richer in micronutrients. Avoid chocolates and have nuts for magnesium instead, eat non-sweet fruit like berries and before long you will crave these things, not candy bars.
Finally, eating fewer carbs fine-tunes us to our cravings, letting us know when they are accurate. If you eat high carb all the time, you will just crave carbs, without distinguishing between the different nutrients you need. You may even confuse thirst for wanting more carbs. On the other hand, when you eat low carb you become more aware of the nuances of every food, and crave specific foods for their nutrients, not just their taste.
If you would like more information about they type of diet that is right for you call McLaughlin Care for your nutritional consultation. Dr. McLaughlin practices functional medicine and clinical nutrition to help you make the best health care choices that are personalized specifically to your genetics, family history and health goals. McLaughlin Care is a full service wellness clinic offering Chiropractic care, massage, nutritional counseling, acupuncture, rehab exercises and fitness, functional medicine and clinical nutrition. Call today for an appointment 847-234-2346