Physically, psychologically and spiritually humans strive to find balance in all aspects of life. In order to live a healthy life, our blood cells need to maintain a pH balance as much as possible!
One of the most frustrating parts of transitioning to eating a healthier, more appropriate for you diet is cravings for habitual and oftentimes unhealthy foods.
In our high stress, western diet we’re conditioned to eat acidic foods (soda, coffee, dairy, sugar, gluten, alcohol, processed and fast foods). Combine this with the emotional roller coaster many of us live on in our busy lives. The scale eventually tips, leads to inflammation which moves into illness – and along the way we progressively develop food cravings.
Before we get into self-bashing for the cravings we have, let’s acknowledge - cravings mean that your body is warning you something is out of balance.
Most of the food cravings in my experience are initially caused by simply not eating enough of the foods your body needs to be satisfied and maintain its energy levels. These same foods help to balance out emotional ups and downs.
Here are four contributors:
· Under-eating the proper carbohydrates
· Not eating enough greens
· Poor planning: you just don’t have enough tasty, healthy meals available when you need them.
· Emotional Eating
Can this be brought under control? Yes it can and you can become the boss!
· Through optimizing nutrition in other areas, you can decide you are going to change things,
· Adopt ways of managing stress, getting more sleep, and connecting with your loved ones.
So let’s review some of the common cravings to demonstrate how we can work with them to correct the nutritional deficiencies that can be contributing. Sometimes crowding out the cravings does wonders to really changing the game for you when it comes to living the cleaner life.
If you crave chocolate, this might be a magnesium deficiency so you can start adding in dark leafy greens, nuts, and fruit or take a magnesium supplement before bed (it’s a muscle relaxer and can help with sleep, too).
Chocolate = Magnesium deficiency= raw cacao nibs, beans, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, fruit
If you crave soda, this could mean you have a calcium deficiency so adding in more sesame seeds, broccoli or kale can help.
Soda= Calcium deficiency = Sesame seeds, broccoli, kale, legumes, mustard greens
Pasta, baked goods = Chromium deficiency = Onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, cinnamon, grapes, apples, sweet potato
Cheese= Essential Fatty Acids deficiency =Omega 3’s (EPA and DHA)- Flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts
Salty Foods = Chloride deficiency = eat more vegetables = lettuce, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, or whichever vegetable you enjoy, and just making sure you eat enough of them.
Craving sweets, honey or bread, rice, pasta, corn, potato (in other words, complex carbohydrates) = a clear indicator that you haven’t had enough simple carbohydrates.
Snacky = imbalanced diet, missing nutrients = substitute junk food for healthy meals.
Overeating = Tryptophan deficiency = spirulina, pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, raw cacao, oatmeal, sweet potato, spinach, raisins
Stress hormone fluctuations = Meditation, breathing, exercise, leafy greens, vitamin B and C
I came across this chart many years ago - Food Cravings + Habits Chart by Whole Health Designs
Although it is dated, I have found it is a fantastic resource to help get into the habit of contrasting our immediate cravings for the body’s actual ask!
It helps to find out what might be the cause and take steps to restoring balance. You can begin balancing your diet by adding in more nutritional foods each day and eventually you will crowd out the craving.
Note that the chart is not an Ayurveda nutrition tool, nor related to foods related to specific Doshas, yet a handy resource. We’ll be getting into the Ayurveda way a bit later.
Good luck and see you in the next post!