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Beating Your Worst Food Cravings
November 25, 2011
Marilyn and I hope you're well and enjoying adding Nature's Super Foods to your diet!

Today we thought we'd share with you, some of the best ways to beat your worst food cravings.

Beat Your Worst Food Cravings

Cookies, chips or chocolate constantly calling your name?

If you’re tired of battling your brain for control of your diet, get to the bottom of what your cravings really mean and watch them disappear.

A McGill University study suggests as many as 87% of women struggle with annoying, even overwhelming food cravings.

Good news: “Cravings aren’t a sign of weakness, they’re triggered by deficiencies and chemical imbalances that we now know how to correct,” says nutrition researcher Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.

If You Crave: Chocolate

The Likely Culprit: A Magnesium Deficiency

According to Tucson’s University of Arizona researchers, up to 49 percent of women with food cravings are defeated by chocolate, some during their premenstrual week, others daily.

Underlying trigger?

Usually a magnesium deficit.

Chocolate contains up to 65 milligrams of magnesium per ounce, so these cravings are your brain trying to correct a shortfall in the tastiest way possible.

The Fix: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 320 milligrams daily.

Skip the chocolate with spinach (157 milligrams per c.), nuts and seeds (up to 156 mg. per oz.) and soybeans (108 mg. per c.).

If you must, reach for dark chocolate.

According to USDA trials, it contains triple the magnesium of milk chocolate, so you’ll need less to feel fulfilled.

If You Crave: Sugary Desserts

The Likely Culprit: A Chromium Deficiency

As many as 90 percent of Americans are deficient in chromium, mostly because this mineral is not found in a lot of foods to begin with and easily destroyed during food processing, say USDA researchers.

The #1 symptom?

Ferocious sugar cravings.

Chromium helps your tissues soak up glucose.

When chromium levels plunge, your cells have trouble getting the sugar that they need, and that’s what leads to those intense cravings.

The fix: According to the National Academy of Sciences, 25 to 50 micrograms daily is often enough to short-circuit sugar binges.

Some simple ways to ramp up your daily intake: Eggs (the yolks contain 35 micrograms of chromium each), cheese (16 micrograms per oz.), 100% whole grain or rye breads (up to 12 micrograms per slice) and beer (up to 30 micrograms per 12 oz. glass).

If You Crave: Spuds

The Likely Culprit: A Tryptophan Shortfall

Few people have heard of tryptophan, yet your brain loves this amino acid because it uses it to make antidepressant hormones.

But that means when tryptophan levels dwindle, your moods can take a nasty downturn.

Your brain’s response?

It tries to correct this mess by craving a tryptophan-packed snack like potatoes, MIT studies show.

The fix: The key to taming this craving is to nosh 1/2 c. of any tryptophan-rich treat when your munchies flare.

Potatoes will do the trick, and so will bananas, cottage cheese, hummus or rice (brown or white).

According to MIT researchers, giving in to this craving will squash it in 10 minutes and keep it at bay for up to eight hours straight.

If You Crave: Ice

The Likely Culprit: Not Enough Iron

Almost 10 percent of women are anemic, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University, PA.

And aside from making you constantly tired, this mineral shortfall can make your taste buds die and slough off, leading to a sore tongue, and then an odd craving for ice, which helps numb the pain.

The fix: There’s no on-the-spot cure for this frustrating problem, but with patience you can restock your tissue stores of iron, erasing ice cravings permanently.

Enjoying 4 oz. of iron-rich legumes, fortified cereals, meat or poultry daily is a great start.

Also, if you're a tea drinker, it's important to sip your tea between meals, and not actually with your food (tea’s tannins bind to iron in the intestines, cutting the mineral’s absorption in half, say researchers at the University of California, Berkeley).

On the other hand, Tufts University research showed that citrus, berries, bell peppers or tomatoes, which are rich in natural plant acids, double the amount of iron you absorb.

If You Crave: Sweets or Starches

The Likely Culprit: Calcium Pinch

Almost 55 percent of women struggle with impossible-to-ignore cravings during their premenstrual week, often for sweet or starchy snacks.

Those feeding frenzies could be a tip-off that your calcium stores are sinking low.

Calcium keeps your nervous system calm and relaxed as your estrogen and progesterone levels plunge premenstrually.

So, according to studies at the University of Tennessee, when this mineral is in short supply, you’ll feel rattled and stressed and crave calming carbs.

The fix: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that you can cut your premenstrual cravings and binges by 48 percent in three months, just by adding 1,200 milligrams of calcium to your daily diet.

Yogurt is the true powerhouse of the calcium world, one cup is packed with 454 milligrams.

Other great sources: Cheese (200 mg. per oz.), non-fat milk (300 mg. per c.) and canned fish (240 mg. per 4-oz. serving).

If You Crave: Salty Snacks

The Likely Culprit: Adrenal Burnout

Your adrenal glands store a lot of salt, and they need this nutrient to produce energizing adrenaline and noradrenaline, plus the stress hormone cortisol.

But when you’re super-busy and under a ton of pressure, your adrenals can get burned out trying to produce all of that cortisol.

Their salt stores become drained and hormone output dips, leading to stubborn salt cravings, plus that awful drained and draggy feeling.

The fix: Forget about food fixes and look for ways to relax and unwind every day, suggest researchers at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Their studies show taking 20 minutes daily to meditate, stretch, practice deep breathing, soak in a tub or get a little exercise is often all it takes to cut your adrenal glands’ cortisol output by 25 percent, allowing it to restock its salt stores, and cut cravings, in as little as two weeks.

If You Crave: Pizza or Other Cheesy Fare

The Likely Culprit: A Fatty Acid Deficiency

As many as 60 percent of North Americans are deficient in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are found mainly in fish, seafood, flax and other concentrated plant oils.

Your body can’t build EFAs, despite how desperately it needs them, and cravings for fatty foods are a common symptom of this dietary shortfall.

The fix: Add three 6-ounce servings of fish or seafood to your weekly diet, sprinkle 2 Tbs. of ground flax onto your daily meals or take 3 g. of fish oil each day, and your pizza pig-outs could ease in as little as one month.

If You Crave: Breads and Pasta

The Likely Culprit: A Sleep Shortfall

If you can’t pass a bread basket or pasta bowl without wanting to dive in headfirst, a chronic lack of sleep is most likely to blame.

Your brain functions best on eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep nightly, yet many busy women are slogging along on six hours, or less!

The problem, say UCLA doctors: Deep sleep is essential for restocking your brain’s stores of the appetite-taming hormone serotonin, and as serotonin levels plunge, carb cravings go through the roof.

Within two days of becoming sleep deprived, almost 100% of people start grazing on breads, buns, and other starchy foods!

The fix: Make it a top priority to get at least eight hours of serotonin-boosting sleep nightly, and researchers at Houston’s Hermann Hospital say your carb cravings could disappear in as little as 72 hours.

If You Crave: Burgers and Steaks

The Likely Culprit: Too Little Dietary Protein

If you don’t eat much meat, you’re on a strict diet, or you’re taking heartburn meds (which stall stomach acid production), your body could be struggling because of too little protein, and meat cravings are a common symptom.

Other tip-offs: Trouble building toned, trim muscle, plus a sluggish immune system, which ramps up your risk of catching every sniffle that goes around.

The fix: Succumb!

According to the National Academy of Sciences, eating 46 grams of protein daily can prevent this shortfall entirely.

Their top picks: Beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and tuna, which are packed with at least 48 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving.

If You Crave: Things You’re Embarrassed to Mention

The Likely Culprit: A Major Mineral Shortfall

At some point in their lives, at least 8% of women will crave things that aren’t classed as food, such as paint chips, coffee grounds, drywall, paper, toothpaste or cigarette ashes, according to research at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC.

Pica is often triggered by a massive shortfall of minerals, including zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and chromium.

It’s your body’s desperate attempt to find something, anything, that will restore your mineral balance.

The fix: Start by going to your doctor and fessing up.

Most people hide this type of craving, yet getting a proper diagnosis is the key to a speedy recovery.

The good news: Finding out which minerals you’re deficient in, and taking prescription-strength doses until your shortfalls are corrected, can erase this embarrassing problem in as little as three months.

Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today.

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