Im having cravings, what do I do? Cravings Chart - the nutrients your body really wants

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We all get food cravings. There are different foods we crave but the idea is same, pulling from several elements of the craving as to why we get them and how we can work with and alleviate them. Through evolution, our bodies are designed to use sugar and fat as energy sources and it begins as infants since the first thing babies get is their mother's milk.  That milk is sweet and nutrient rich, and it equals nourishment, comfort, love and overall survival. Without it, they don’t have a sense of love and they certainly wouldn’t survive. 
Therefore, we are basically hardwired to associate sweet and heavy foods with love and energy. Serotonin is also produced by foods that are rich in carbohydrates, also typically sweet foods, so there is a link to food and mood changes.  As some foods can make us feel bad, there are some that seem to make us feel good, but with every example of this, there is also another non-food related choice a person could make for similar feelings, it’s just a little bit less instant than reaching for a pint of ice cream or a bar of chocolate. 

There are physical reasons for cravings as well. When we habitually lack a certain taste out of the six (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, astringent), we become imbalanced and cravings can arise as the body gives us signals to regain that balance.  When we are lacking certain nutrients, we also can develop cravings. For example, someone craving chocolate could be deficient in magnesium and more healthy choices would be raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruit.   Someone craving salty foods might be lacking chloride and could try raw goat milk, fish and unrefined sea salt rather than salty fast food or regular table salt. 
The chart below is a wonderful tool for making minor adjustments with the tastes and making sure we eat a variety of foods and adjusting things for our particular and unique bodies’ needs. 

If you crave this... What you really need is... And here are healthy foods that have it:
Chocolate Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
Sweets Chromium Broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves liver, organic free-range chicken
  Carbon Fresh fruits
  Phosphorus Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, whole grains
  Sulfur Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage
  Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Bread, toast Nitrogen High protein foods: fish, meat, nuts, beans
Oily snacks, fatty foods Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Coffee or tea Phosphorous Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes
  Sulfur Egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables
  NaCl (salt) Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)
  Iron Meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Alcohol, recreational drugs Protein Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts
  Avenin Granola, oatmeal
  Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
  Glutamine Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice
  Potassium Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens
Chewing ice Iron Meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Burned food Carbon Fresh fruits
Soda and other carbonated drinks Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Salty foods Chloride Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt
Acid foods Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
Preference for liquids rather than solids Water Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Preference for solids rather than liquids Water You have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Cool drinks Manganese Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
Pre-menstrual cravings Zinc Red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables
General overeating Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
  Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
  Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables
Lack of appetite Vitamin B1 Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats
  Vitamin B3 Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes
  Manganese Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
  Chloride Raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt
Tobacco Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
  Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables
  1. Lectures, Cheryl M. Deroin, NMD, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Spring 2003 (healthy food recommendations)
  2. Benard Jenson, PhD, The Chemistry of Man B. Jensen Publisher, 1983 (deficiencies linked to specific cravings and some food recommendations)

When you combine physical deficiencies with triggers coming from unattended-to emotional patterns and potential imbalances in the body from stored toxins, disrupted hormone levels, or other health issues such as candida or adrenal fatigue, and it's no wonder that the body can sometimes feel weak and vulnerable to these cravings for less than optimal foods. 

However, there are things you can do. . .starting with delving into the root causes of any cravings you get.   How often do you reach for the ice cream or chocolate when you're really wanting love, approval, comfort or sweetness in another area of your life, but you think it's being satisfied by putting something sweet and creamy on your tongue?  You will likely find that a few hours later not only is the emotional trigger still there, but you're now feeling guilt and shame or anger at what you just consumed.  
Often it's wanting something forbidden and when the food someone is craving is no longer "forbidden", the cravings go away.  If you gave yourself permission wholeheartedly to eat that ice cream or that bar of chocolate would you really and truly want it?  Would you really know what full permission, compassion and love towards yourself and food looks like?  I encourage everyone to begin to delve in and explore what that really looks like and feels like.  
Something to look at also is when the cravings are occurring.  Many times there are patterns in the timeframe, as people eat out of habit constantly.  Eating simply because they think it's "time to eat" not because they are truly hungry, eating to distract, numb or entertain themselves, and eating out of a past emotional trigger.  I was recently working with a woman who realized she was stress eating every night around the time of day that there was a lot of stress in her house as a child growing up.  When she realized it was linked to things in her childhood, that simple realization made the cravings vanish and she felt incredibly strong and free for releasing them. 

There are also these herbal resources that can help the the physical aspect, especially for sugar cravings:
(Please contact your practitioner to select the right herbs for your unique needs)
  • Gymnema Sylvestre - Destroys the taste and craving for sugar, regulates blood sugar levels
  • Weight Away - Helpful with weight loss and cleansing
  • Trikatu - Improves metabolism and destroys Kapha
  • Triphala - Cleansing action supports weight loss
  • Triphala Guggulu - Aids fat metabolism and detoxification
  • Neem - Destroys sweet cravings
  • Ginger - Improves digestion, circulation and metabolism
  • Cardamom - Refreshes the palate and destroys cravings
Something else that works is a bit of umeboshi plum paste (just a tiny bit on your tongue) as it instantly stops sugar  cravings  and provides detoxifying energy at the same time. It's easily found in the Asian section of health food stores. 

Ayurveda identifies six major tastes we need in our diet every day— sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Each of these tastes has specific health-giving effects. By including all six, we will be most completely nourished and satisfied. When we consistently eat only a few of the tastes, it not only causes health problems but also triggers cravings for unhealthy foods. For instance, fast food contains mostly sweet, sour, and salty tastes. If we eat a steady diet of fast food (sugar, salt, unhealthy fats), our bodies easily develop an uncontrollable craving for sweets. Adding more pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes can help tame what feels like out-of-control desires for very sweet foods by bringing the body back into balance. 

Here's something to remember food-wise: if you don't have enough protein and healthy fat in the morning (which works to keep cravings at bay)  you will most likely be  hungrier than usual later on with dropping blood sugar. You may feel like you need immediate "comfort food " or foods that stimulate with sugar or caffeine.
If you are really starving and simply have to have something, for a salty fix, I recommend spreading some miso on some vegetable slices or even in some lettuce leaves or just adding a pinch of real sea salt to some steamed vegetables and for a sweet fix, try fresh seasonal fruit or herbal tea with stevia.  

Overall, take some deep cleansing breaths and drink some water or herbal tea when cravings come up, go for a walk, call a friend, do some stretching, put on some great music (and dance if you like!),  pick up a magazine, do anything to take your mind off it for awhile and see if it's still there in ten or fifteen minutes.  The amazing thing is that it quite often isn't.  
Remember that you are stronger, braver and more authentic than your cravings ever will be, so rather than wrestle to control, deny or give in to them, simply smile with sparkling eyes and turn away to continue living your amazing life.

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