Saturday, January 30, 2010

All About Food Cravings… Understanding Food Cravings… How To Overcome Food Cravings & More

by Dr. Russell on July 7, 2008

Regardless of what you crave, food cravings are your body’s cry for nutrients… not for potato chips, hard candy or chocolate chip cookies.

Your brain constantly monitors your blood for nutrients. If a nutrient is missing or in short supply, you start to feel hunger.

Answer this cry for nutrition with nutrient-deficient junk food and hunger quickly returns and your craving is stronger than ever.

Giving in to a craving and eating a pound of spicy raisins or licorice flavored marshmallows makes matters worse because, until you get the nutrients you need, cravings are never satisfied and, the more you eat the more you’ll crave.

Depending On Food For Quick Energy Makes Cravings Worse

Using food as a source of quick energy makes matters worse because, as energy starts to drop, you automatically reach for a soft drink, chips or whatever you use to spike your blood sugar AND you’ll go out of your way to make sure that food is available.

Sugar and carbohydrate cravings are a cry for essential nutrients, especially essential fatty acids. These cravings are quickly eliminated, (in just a few days), with proper essential fatty acid supplementation, which can be as simple as taking a tablespoon of flax seed oil twice a day.

* A craving for fatty foods suggests a deficiency in healthy essential fatty acids.

* Craving for salt or salty foods may be caused by a sodium deficiency or dehydration.

*Cravings for chocolate may suggest a vitamin B and/or a magnesium deficiency… either way, taking a good, bio-available mineral supplement and flax seed oil ends the craving fast.

Sugar and carbohydrate craving can be completely eliminated in a few days by supplementing your diet with flax seed oil, which is high in omega 3 essential fatty acids. Even the most stubborn sweet tooth will vanish with proper efa and mineral supplementation.

Using food for fast energy causes cravings to grow stronger.

Relying on sugar, fat or caffeine to jump-start the day sets the stage for raging nutritional deficiency and the onset of powerful food cravings that easily control your behavior.

Food Cravings And Emotions

The emotional side of food cravings has less to do with memories of ice cream and childhood and more to do with how certain foods affect brain chemistry.

KEY POINT: Comfort foods, like cookies, bread, cake, ice cream, and so on stimulate the production of dopamine, which has a very relaxing effect on the body. People who get upset often turn to food for “comfort” because eating high carbohydrate comfort food floods the brain with dopamine and dopamine can calm you down in a matter of minutes.

You may not be able to reign in your emotions, but you can always make different choices. Next time grab a handful of almonds or pistachios or some string cheese or an apple.

Stress-related food cravings amount to little more than a bad habit. Try squeezing a tennis ball instead of eating. Better yet, pay attention to what distress you and do something about it… or at least change your response to it.

Chocolate Can Be Powerfully Addictive Because…

Besides stimulating dopamine, chocolate contains phenylethlamine, which stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the most powerful, internally produced, FEEL GOOD chemicals known to man. Chocolate also contains trace amounts of THC which is the active component in marijuana… yes it’s true.Combined, dopamine, endorphins and trace amounts of THC produce a POWERFUL relaxing, “feel good” combination, which may explain why so many people LOVE chocolate.


There is no medically or nutritionally meaningful distinction to be made here. The physiology of food addiction is essentially the same for everyone and being pregnant does not change the fact that a food craving is your body’s cry for nutrients.

KEY POINT: The connection between pregnancy and weird food addictions comes primarily, if not exclusively, from the fact that pregnant women have a MUCH GREATER need for essential nutrients and, if they fail to get those nutrient, their body SCREAMS for nourishment… and sometimes that cry for nutrition is misinterpreted as a cry for pickles and ice cream or fried banana sandwiches dipped in Thousand Island dressing.

Cravings may be stronger and more compelling during pregnancy because Mom eats for two. The increased demand is for nutrients, not calories. Baby ALWAYS gets what baby needs and Mom gets leftovers. If there aren’t enough vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids left for Mom… Mom develops raging food cravings that may drive her to eat no telling what.

During pregnancy Mom’s hormones are more like a tornado and less like a lazy afternoon at the beach. Raging hormones that are common in pregnancy, may affect both taste and smell.

A pregnant woman may lose her taste for something she normally loves and gain a taste for something she would normally never touch. After the delivery things usually return to normal pretty fast.

If cravings are weirder than pistachio ice cream and pickles, (like dirt, paint chips, or the smell of chemicals, these cravings are NOT nutritional based and may be symptoms of a disease called Pica; If cravings are too weird, tell your doctor, who will know exactly what to do.

Healthy Choices Taste Good Too

Instead of soft drinks: try mineral water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, low sodium V-8 or herbal tea.

Instead of candy: try grapes, blueberries, fresh strawberries or an apple.

Instead of junk food snacks: have string-cheese, plain yogurt with fresh berries, celery sticks with a little almond butter, raw carrots or a handful of nuts.


Cravings are cry for nutrients, NOT a cry for ice cream, soft drinks, potato chips, candy or pretzels dipped in spicy ketchup.

Not giving into cravings and supplementing with flax seed oil and essential minerals will eliminate most food cravings in a matter of days.

Emotional food addictions are PRIMARILY the result of the foods affect on brain chemistry.

Good diet, proper supplementation with essential minerals and essential fatty acids and exercise effectively eliminates most cravings, most of the time for males or females, pregnant or not.

Note: This post is a summary of Talking Points from my recent appearance on CBS Television discussing food cravings.