Bingeing, Cravings, Nutrient Deficiencies, Emotions and How They’re Related

Our decision to binge on certain foods isn’t always dependent on willpower. Many studies, including one from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, show that urges to eat certain foods can be blamed on moderate to severe nutrient deficiencies.

So no, it’s not always about emotions or the chemical addiction of certain foods. Your body may be lagging in certain micronutrients. Some common deficiencies include...

1. Iron

A super common nutrient deficiency in vegans and sometimes carnivores depending on genetic propensities or absorption issues.

iron deficiencies can cause people to feel tired and to dream about meat at every meal. These meat cravings can stem from the fact that iron sources from plant-based foods (non-heme iron) aren’t as well utilized by the body as animal based sources (heme iron. If you’re set on avoiding animal products, eat more beans, legumes and nuts along with a source of vitamin C for better absorption. A supplement is also a great idea.

2. B Vitamins

Ever heard of the condition known as PICA? Pica can be a symptom of anemia (due to B-12, folate, or iron deficiency) causing unexplainable cravings for dirt. More common in pregnant expecting mothers.

Craving foods like leafy greens, rice, fortified cereals, seafood, eggs, bananas, poultry, dairy, and potatoes can also indicate a deficiency from the B-vitamin family. Food cravings and wicked mood swings often accompany this deficiency.

 3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Ah, some of the good fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are among the best fat sources. This essential fatty acid (ALA, EPA, and DHA) can be found in fish (tuna, salmon, and sardines) eggs and kelp and even cheese! That’s why many people deficient in this essential fatty acid crave the cheesiest meals they can find.

So instead, find some fresh wild salmon, sardines and pasture raised eggs.

4. Magnesium

One word. Chocolate!!! First things first. Craving chocolate does not necessarily mean that you are deficient in magnesium. But, some studies suggest that up to 68% of North Americans are Magnesium deficient. Causes include our modern, nutrient poor soil from massive farms that use the same soil over and over, over-consuming sugars and, being super stressed out.

While reaching for a square or 2 of 85% + dark chocolate is a great fix for the craving, boost your magnesium levels by supplementing and eating more nuts, green leafy veggies and beans.

 5. Zinc

Zinc plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and the immune system.

Low zinc can cause a dulled sense of taste. This can lead to pus craving the sweetest of sweets and the saltiest of savory foods.  Reach for eggs, nuts, oysters, liver, and dark poultry meat to top up zinc stores. Especially before the flu season!

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Now, what about those annoying Emotional cravings that we’ve all (well most of us) experienced?

  “Man, I have one badass sweet tooth”

No big shocker that sugar and sweets are the most highly craved food. When we are feeling a little down or stressed, our brains are looking for a serotonin and dopamine boost.

Most people report that emotional eating was brought on by sadness, loneliness, stress and/or boredom.

So what’s behind the loneliness, sadness or stress?

Is it a lack of joy?. If you’re craving ice cream or those old school Halloween candies you would collect as a kid, it could be because you’re working too hard? Not surrounding yourself with good supports or maybe you’re keeping yourself from indulging in the simple pleasures of life?

Why not try making a list of things that make you feel good (that doesn’t involve food).

-Going outside for walk in nature.

-Watching your favorite show on Netflix.

-Calling your best friend or closest family member.

-Taking a long Epsom salts bath…..

-Exercising…

“Once you pop, you just can’t stop” 

When it comes to cravings for salty and savory foods, similar to sugar, certain studies have shown that people who crave salt are often suffering from symptoms similar to depression. Keep in mind that salt (sodium), unlike processed sugar, is something that your body needs. In your intestines, sodium helps absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose and water. It’s also responsible for regulating blood pressure and nerve impulses. Your body-mind connection may be using your depressive symptoms to tell you that you’re deficient in the mineral.

However, when your mind is saying “pull over at McDonalds and pick up a large fry”, it’s highly unlikely that your body will get what it “needs” from anything coming from McDonalds.

Consider supplementing your diet with healthy salted snacks like pumpkin seeds or cashews. Also, try adding good quality, mineral rich Pink Himalayan or Aztec sea salt to your food.

Also, do something about your mood. Pick something from the list above (or the one that you made;)). Choose one or even a few things that you can do to keep your mind off of or, to help you cope with the negative emotion.

“Whoever snuck the S into fast food was a clever bastard”

 Ever had an intense craving for Crunchy things? Yes, craving certain textures can mean something emotional is happening as well. Some psychologists believe that a craving for crunchy food means we are experiencing stress, anger and/or frustration. Crunching down on something, breaking it apart can provide a sort of release.

 But, do we have to reach from chips every time we want to crunch? Crisp Apples, coconut chips, carrots, kohlrabi, jicama, kale chips also provide crispiness. Or, theres an even better and longer lasting solution to your present state. You could search for the root of the problem and find non-food related ways to cope with that stress or anger.

Try journaling (don’t knock it until you’ve done it for a week), talking to a close friend, engage in activities that bring you joy, connect with others by doing a good deed etc.

Something I like to do is complete a chore or project that I’ve been putting off. Procrastination is a big cause of anxiety. For example, vacuuming out my car or organizing the office are things that I put off for WAY too long. But when it’s finished, there’s a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Plus, it takes my mind off of what was bothering me (even if it’d just for a short time).

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Boom. There you have it. A nice brain dump brought to you by a major nutrition, longevity and psychology nerd. Hope the above article helps you out next time cravings happen.

Check your Motivations

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When it comes to any goal you are attempting to reach, step one is to realize and be honest with your motivations.

“Getting healthier" for example. This is a common motivation for my clients.

Unfortunately, many have separated "better health" with "weight loss".

Their minds associate thin with being healthy, without any insight into more  important markers such as body composition, lean muscle mass, nutrient status, blood sugar levels, hormonal balance, energy, happiness and stress resilience.

Research suggests that in the long-term, we are far more likely to maintain healthy behaviors (like eating more vegetables, decreasing simple sugars, exercising) if we’re motivated by a desire to improve actual health indicators. No, a six pack or smaller thighs are not indicators of overall health.

Our weight is affected by a lot of different factors. But, the million dollar diet and supplement industry would like us to believe the opposite. This causes so many people to feel like failures because they "didn't lose” or “keep the weight off".

The cycle continues as they try fad diets over and over (e.g. yo-yo dieting). All the while believing that the more they restrict themselves, the lower the number on the scale falls and the harder they can exercise are the only ways they can measure success. Chronic dieters often lose sight of the fact that exercising and eating vegetables is probably good for you no matter what the scale indicates.

Try this:  focus on changing your behaviors for the purpose of improving real and truly important health indicators (like the ones sited above).

The scale is not your only tool for assessment.

Weight-based only motivations usually backfire eventually, leading to more intense reactions of  "falling on and off the wagon" (e.g. binge-eating).

So get real, get your head on straight, stop thinking that your self worth lies only in how you appear on the outside and improve your lifestyle for the right reasons.

“I can never have just one”.
“Keep that stuff away form me, I’ll eat the whole box”.
“Hide the ice cream or else it will be gone by tonight”.
Having a sweet tooth coupled with an inability to separate emotional and psychical hunger can wreak havoc on our lives.
 
The pattern goes like this:
 1.Eat something you really, really enjoy that’s on your “bad” food list.
2. Feel guilty and ashamed for doing it
3. Believe that you have no self control and your diet has now gone to crap.
4. Say to yourself, “Well, I might as well finish the whole damn thing (pie, tray of cookies, tub of ice cream….)
5. Restrict, beat yourself up and feel like garbage the next day.
6. End up craving that food (or similar ones), through both a physical and psychological feeling of deprivation.
Sick of this annoying, tiring and uncomfortable cycle?
 Here’s what can help.
Stop labeling foods to being “off limit” or “bad”. When we do this, we are Judging, Shaming and Blaming ourselves.
We are worrying we will lose control, gain weight, no one will love us and we will never get what we want.
Food then has power over us because we are fearing it. Food is not something that controls us. It’s a carrier of bioactive components that carry information from the environment to the cells and provides us with the needed things to live!
Yep, food = information
It’s not going to make you feel safe, more comfortable, give you more power or take control from you.
Want to work on your relationship to food, your body and yourself? Contact Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did Things Just Stop Working?

You’re doing “all the things”, but not losing weight

 Although I don’t love the term “diet”, I use it because that’s what most people understand when we talk about how what we eat correlates to our weight and health. I all too often hear people tell me “ I’m on this diet. I have been doing all the things like eating what it says, exercising how it says… But, my weight loss is minimal and it seems to have stopped.”

There are many reasons why this happens but here are the most common causes:

1. Your body thinks it’s starving

When your daily calorie intake is too low, the body switches into starvation mode and metabolism slows. Your body “thinks” it needs to conserve energy and will store anything you eat.

2. Insufficient protein

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, which is the number one fat burning tissue in the body. It’s super metabolically active. Unfortunately, many people focus on cardio for exercise while neglecting weight-bearing activities. The less muscle we have, the slower will be our calorie burning capacity.

3. You’ve cut too much fat

Without enough healthy fat in the diet, there is a decrease in the production of hormones, prostaglandins, eicosanoids, and many of the chemicals that help produce energy in the body.  This leads to a slowing of metabolism, an increase in hunger and less nutrient absorption.

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, which is the number one fat burning tissue in the body. So the less muscle we have, the slower will be our calorie burning capacity.

4. You’re overstressed and sleep deprived

Being in a hyper vigilant state, obsessing about food, calorie counting and missing out on the joy of eating is a form of stress. Our lives are stressed out enough with work, traffic, obligations and the list goes on and on. Then, you stay up late watching Netflix, surfing the net, lurking on instagram or worrying about, well everything! Boom, you’re sleep deprived and stressed out.

The stress chemistry release can de-regulate appetite and cause us to overeat, creating the physiologic conditions for weight gain or inability to lose weight.

So what is the alternative to hard dieting? Eat in a nourishing and sustainable way. Having realistic expectations (and it’s not 8% body fat or a thigh gap). It might seem contradictory, but often, allowing ourselves to stop stressing about our weight is the very thing that helps us lose the excess lbs.

5. Too much exercise

Sure, regular exercise by getting your heart rate up and lifting heavy things is super important. However, over exercising can lead to problems in the long run. Those who exercise too hard or too often and without enough recovery time put the body into a stress response. This leads to excess insulin and cortisol production, which can result in the inability to lose weight. There is such thing as “too much of a good thing”.

 Hope you’ve found this helpful!

 

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Do We Really Need to "Detox?"

Is Detoxing a Money Grab?

2016 is fast approaching and this time of year is when diets are all the rage. However, with all the marketing swirling around us, it’s even more important to know the truth about “detox diets”. What are they and do we even need them?

What Are Toxins?

It’s important to begin with an understanding of what toxins actually are. No matter how much you “sanitize” your life; just about everybody shows some evidence of a build-up of toxins. According to the CDC from a study conducted in 2014, on average there are 212 chemicals found in people’s blood and urine. The chemicals included:

  Per fluorinated chemicals - used to create non-stick cookware

  Polybrominated diphenyl ethers - used in fire retardants found in consumer products like mattresses

  Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - found in paints, air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics, upholstery fabrics, carpets, dry-cleaned clothing, 

  Acrylamide - formed when foods are baked or fried and as a byproduct of cigarette smoke

  Arsenic - found in many home-building products

  Environmental phenols - including bisphenol A (found in plastics, food packaging and epoxy resins) 

  Perchlorate - used in airplane fuel, explosives, and fireworks

 While your body does actually have detoxification organs that can process many of these chemicals and toxins (your liver and kidneys), exposure to these chemicals (and their build up), can potentially cause problems if your liver and kidneys are not functioning properly or are overworked with a poor diet.

So, How Do We Detox?

Now, the liver plays the major role when it comes to detoxification. Followed by the kidneys through filtration processes. The liver filters the blood and removes toxins in 2 phases that end with excreting toxins into bile, stool and urine.

In order for this liver detoxification to function at its best, your body must have adequate nutrients. If not, these processes won’t work properly and this can allow toxic substances to build up in your body. There are specific nutrients that support these pathways.

Some of these nutrients include:

  B-Vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid)

  Flavonoids, found in fruits and vegetables

  Foods rich in vitamins A, C and E (carrots, oranges, wheat germ, almonds)

  Branched chain amino acids (found in animal protein such as dairy products, red meat, and eggs)

  Glutathione (found in avocado, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts, fresh fruits and veggies, and the nutrients n-acetylcysteine, cysteine and methionine)

  Phospholipids (found in eggs, lean meats, organ meats, fish, and soybeans)

           Indole-3-carbinol (found in cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)

           Fish oil

           Silymarins, a group of antioxidants extracted from the seeds of milk thistle, have antioxidant properties several times greater than that of vitamins C and E.

           Spirulina (specifically the Cyanobacteria it contains. This is a specific type of bacteria found in spirulina that is bioabsorbant of heavy minerals via a process called ion-exchange binding This can reduce heavy metal toxicity in tissue.

So, while there is little sound, clinical evidence that expensive juice cleanses or nasty tasting pills actually fulfill their detox claims, the nutrients above really do support your body in the detoxification process. The great news is that most of the nutrients above are found in common foods that we should be eating every day anyways, right?! 

Just Go To Sleep!

You’re busy. Yes, most of us are these days. You have a growing career, you keep up with regular exercise, supporting your family, enjoying a social life and then oh ya, you sleep ….. Now, what if you had to choose one of these things to give up because you need more time in the day.  

Can you guess what most people choose to sacrifice?

Sleep.

A bad mood is the least of our problems when we are behind on sleep. The consequences of getting less than the necessary 7-9 hours (studies show this is the sweet spot for most of the population),include;

·      Poor focus

·      Poor concentration

·      Impaired judgment

·      Low stress tolerance

·      Impaired Immune system function

·      Weight Gain

Now, lets look closer at the weight gain part. Recent studies reveal that skipping out on quality sleep time can throw your hormones off by lowering your leptin levels and raising your ghrelin levels. Leptin and ghrelin (hormones) are proven to increase cravings for carbohydrate and significantly increase your appetite. Studies have found that people who were restricted to five hours of sleep per night in a laboratory experienced changes in the way their body regulated blood sugar. This happened within just 3 days!  Within 5 days they  put on 0.8 kilograms because they ate more, mostly carbs. Combine these metabolic affects with impaired judgment and a lower stress tolerance and BAM! That waist line starts to grow and you start feeling a little pudgy around the middle. 

Try these pre-bedtime tips and turn them into habits to ensure that you’re snoozing at a decent hour and getting the restorative sleep you need.

1) No stimulants before bed (duh): Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all interfere with sleep.  De-caf herbal tea anyone ?!

2) Create a calm, dark sleeping area: Block out your windows so there is zero light shinning in. Keep the room on the cool side and use blankets to stay warm. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. DON’T take your phone to bed! If you have to, keep it out of reach and put it on “airplane” mode.

3) Get off the internet and away from screens at least 1 hour before bed: Watching TV, playing videos games or surfing the net all interferes with good sleep because of the blue /white light spectrum shinning through the screen. This tells the pineal gland that it’s daytime and that it doesn’t need to secrete Melatonin (to promote sleepiness). Switch it off, take a warm bath or read for a few minutes under warm lighting.

4) Just say no to Netflix. It’s so hard, I know. Just one more episode of season 3? It’s never just one more episode. Netflix will be there tomorrow, your beauty sleep is more important.

5) Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime: Yes, some people can get away with this. However, I generally discourage exercising in the evening, especially if it's vigorous exercise. Exercise raises your heart rate and body temperature, which are not conducive to sleeping. However, if evening is the only

time of day that you can get it done (and it doesn’t keep you awake), then go for it. It’s important to stay consistent.

 Goodnight;)