We all get them.
And we all have our weaknesses when it comes to food.
Some people crave salty snacks, like chips or salted pretzels, whereas others have more of a sweet tooth.
Even naturopathic doctors are guilty of giving into their food cravings occasionally.
Whatever your weakness is, though, most of it leads back to sugar.
In particular, we tend to crave refined and artificial sugars, such as the sugar we put in coffee, or high fructose corn syrup.
Despite knowing it’s bad for us, our bodies still crave it.
Now, there are many reasons why refined sugar is bad for you, but that’s a subject for another article.
This article is about cravings and how you can overcome them.
Keep reading to get some naturopathic approved tips on how to kick your cravings for good.
Understanding Your Sugar Cravings
We’ve all dealt with problems in our lives.
Big or small, it doesn’t matter.
The thought process is similar.
The first step toward solving a problem is to understand the problem in the first place.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” : Albert Einstein
Sometimes this step is easy.
If you have a broken window, for example, you already understand the problem.
And the solution is pretty obvious.
But when it comes to health, things are a little trickier.
Sure, there’s tips for recovering from a junk food binge, but how do you prevent those binges in the first place?
Well, it’s helpful to begin with understanding your cravings.
You may have cravings, for example, but if you don’t know where those cravings are coming from you won’t know how to control them.
So that’s our first step: figuring out where your cravings are coming from.
Where Do Cravings Come From?
It would be nice if cravings all came from one place.
Then I could tell you exactly what to do, and that would be the end of it.
This article could be a single paragraph long.
But things aren’t that simple.
Because we’re all unique, we all have our own cravings and our own causes for those.
In fact, there are four main causes of cravings.
Your cravings may be caused by one of the four reasons you find below, or a combination of two or more.
Read on to find out where your cravings are coming from and what you can do about it.
1. Bacterial Cravings
Most people think of bacteria as a bad thing.
We use antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer to wash our hands, antibacterial cleaners to clean our houses, and when we get sick, medical doctors prescribe antibiotics to kill the germs.
There’s no denying that some bacteria are bad.
But you might be surprised to hear how many types of bacteria are considered good for you.
In fact, you wouldn’t be able to live without them.
According to a recent research paper published in PLoS, the ratio of bacteria to human cells in your body is about 50:50.
That means your body is made up of as many bacterial cells as human ones.
So, when it comes to calling the shots in our bodies, these bacteria have a lot of sway.
The same study above will tell you that most of these bacteria live in your digestive tract, specifically your colon.
By using your body’s vagus nerve, these bacteria can communicate with your brain and tell it what they want.
And what these bacteria love more than anything is sugar.
This is especially the case when you have a buildup of candida or other yeast in your body, which feeds off this stuff.
What’s the solution?
Food with antifungal properties, like the lauric acid found in coconut oil, can make a big difference.
Fermented foods, such as kefir and probiotic yogurt, are also your friend here.
They help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your body.
Of course, it’s best to speak with a naturopathic doctor to find out what’s really happening and plan accordingly.
At The Mindful Healing Clinic, we can help you improve your gut health and subsequently help ward off those pesky sugar cravings.
2. Emotional Cravings
It’s always easier to avoid eating something when we’ve never eaten it before, and that’s because we have no emotional connection to it.
That’s why it’s easier for someone who was raised vegetarian to stick to a vegetarian diet than someone who transitioned to a vegetarian lifestyle in their mid thirties.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having an emotional connection to food.
In fact, it’s virtually impossible not to.
After all, we’re emotional beings with complex feelings.
We eat with the people we care about, and that creates emotional bonds around food.
We see this in most community oriented animals in nature as well.
Eating together strengthens social bonds.
But there’s an important question to ask when it comes to your emotional relationship with food:
Are you eating something because you want to increase your positive emotions, or because you want to decrease your negative ones?
Emotional eating, for example, refers to snacking done in an attempt to decrease negative emotions, such as stress or anxiety.
And while this may seem like a harmless, self soothing technique to brighten your mood, it can lead to a vicious cycle of sweet cravings.
A 2019 study by Penaforte et al found a correlation between emotional eating and sweet cravings.
Therefore, it’s important to eat mindfully.
3. Nutritional Cravings
In the modern world, we’re faced with a bizarre dilemma.
The prevalence of sugary, artificial food is all around us, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight.
At the same time, these foods are devoid of the essential nutrients your body needs to thrive.
So, paradoxically, many people today are both overweight and malnourished.
For instance, 2022 research conducted by Kobylińska et al found that malnourishment occurs in both under and overweight individuals.
So, how does your body cope with this paradox?
Your body recognizes it, and wants to do something about it, which sometimes draws us to the very foods we should be avoiding.
For example, most women love chocolate.
That’s a pretty safe thing to say.
But most women are also deficient in magnesium.
And guess where you can find magnesium?
That’s right, chocolate.
Yes, you’ll get the magnesium you need.
But you’ll also get all sorts of drawbacks, especially if the chocolate you’re eating has added sugar.
Speaking to a naturopathic doctor with a focus on nutritional counselling can help you find out if you’re deficient in any particular vitamin or mineral, and how you can make that up with your diet or through supplementing.
4. Physical Cravings
Food can be lots of fun.
It lights up all sorts of pleasure sensors in your brain.
But many of us don’t have enough pleasure in our lives these days.
Adults especially seem to have forgotten how to have fun.
We live our lives in stuffy offices or job sites, focused on working hard all the time.
And there’s nothing wrong with working hard, but we need to mix some pleasure into that as well.
For many people, though, the only socially acceptable pleasures for adults to indulge in are alcohol, sex, and, you guessed it, food.
So if you’re using overly sugary foods to fill a void in your life, you may want to think about where else you can find joy and excitement elsewhere in a healthier manner.
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
When it comes to food, the question to ask is a simple one: is this food serving me, or is it covering up some sort of need in my life?
If you’re truly enjoying your food, you likely have a healthier relationship with it.
But if you’re using it to cover up unpleasant emotions, there may be deeper issues.
To find out how you can improve your relationship with food and start living a healthier life, contact us at The Mindful Healing Clinic.
You’ll get a FREE health and wellness session, where Dr. Maria will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and help you put together a treatment plan to help you enjoy a healthier, happier life.
Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today to get started on a healthier you.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.