Are cravings making you feel fat, tired and guilty?

Are you someone who wakes up every day promising yourself you will not eat the sugary or fatty foods you crave? Only to break that promise again and again? You’re not alone. Cravings can be very strong. Do you want to stop feeling fat, tired and guilty? Here are some helpful tips for cravings!

First: what can be the cause of your cravings?

There can be several reasons for your cravings. So it’s not all about your lack of willpower! As a practionioner working in functional medicine, I always look for the root cause. Here are some I see a lot with my clients:

  • Blood sugar imbalance: when your blood sugar goes low, your brain will make you eat something rich in easy glucose because your body goes into stress if there’s not enough glucose! I made a video about it here.
  • Toxic hunger: the additives, colourings etc in your food can actually make you hungry…
  • Yeasts in gut – like candida – want to be fed and they like sugar. So they send a strong message to your brain: eat sugar now! Feed me!
  • Hormonal changes: pregnancy is famous for cravings – sometimes really strange ones! When I was pregnant with my daughter I craved extra salty liquorice (it’s a Dutch thing…). Not such a great idea when you don’t want your blood pressure to go up!
  • Emotions… In an attempt to come back to balance when you’re experiencing strong emotions, equally strong cravings can come up.
  • A diet poor in nutrients: your body will start craving specific foods when you’re low in certain nutrients.
  • Lack of sleep: when you don’t get enough sleep your blood sugar can easily become imbalanced. And your hunger hormones are affected too!
So what can you do? Try out these tips for cravings:
  • Drink more water: your body can think it’s hungry when it’s actually dehydrated.
  • Get enough sleep. Make it a priority! Here are some helpful tips
  • Eat more protein, fat and fiber and less carbs so you keep your blood sugar more balanced
  • Get more movement
  • Eat a whole food diet. You will consume less additives and more nutrients and your cravings will lessen considerately
  • Identify when the cravings happen. Is it really food you’re craving? Or something else? Here’s a PDF with an exercise that can help you to connect with the underlying emotions of your cravings.

Do you need support with your cravings? Do you want to address what’s causing them and say goodbye to feeling tired and guilty? Book a free 30 minute call with me so we can explore how I can help.

Recipe: how to deconstruct a falafel

Who likes falafels? I do!

These deconstructed ones are much easier and quicker to make than the original ones and don’t need to be deep fried or oven baked.

Your beneficial gut microbes will love the chickpeas, onion, garlic and cumin – this recipe has lots of fiber!

There’s also a good amount of protein, it’s high in vitamin A and folate and it provides a third of your daily zinc requirement. Good to know in these times…

Oh, and this meal is great when your on a candida diet. What’s not to like about that!

You can use chickpeas from a tin but the tin lining contains BPA (read more about that here).

Using dried chickpeas takes a bit more time but is a lot cheaper and bypasses the whole BPA thing. In this hummus recipe I explain how to do it.

You can download and print this recipe here.

Are you going to give this recipe a try? Let us know in the comments!

BPA free is good, right? No it isn’t…

A couple of years ago I replaced all plastic bottles by BPA-free ones. I had heard that BPA is estrogenic, can disrupt your hormones and make you gain weight – yikes! So I thought BPA free plastic bottles were a safe option. Right? No they’re probably not…

BPA stands for bisphenol-A and is a synthetic compound you will find in many plastics, as well as in the lining of canned food containers.

It exhibits what is called ‘estrogenic activity’ which means that it can disrupt the beautiful and intricate system of your hormones.

When more people became aware of this, the industry had to shift. And voilá: the BPA free plastic was born.

But alas, it turns out that bisphenol-A isn’t the only bisphenol in the family. Many manufacturers simply swapped one bisphenol for another and started using BPS or BPF. So BPA free plastic is not a safe option!

Now even small concentrations of BPS and BPF disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. So, BPA-free bottles are not the solution. And not many people are aware of this and that’s tricky… Because when something says it’s ‘free’ we think it’s safe… and it’s not!

On top of that: BPA is still around: in for instance

  • Items packaged in plastic containers
  • Canned foods
  • Personal care products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Thermal printer receipts
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Household electronics
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Sports equipment
  • Dental filling sealants
So what can you do?
Glass storage containers are safe than BPA free ones

Although eradicating Bisphenol completely may be impossible, there are some effective ways to reduce your exposure:

  • Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods. Stay away from canned foods or foods packaged in plastic containers labeled with recycling numbers 3 or 7 or the letters “PC.” Make your own hummus from dried chickpeas in stead of a can!
  • Drink from glass or steel bottles: Buy liquids that come in glass bottles instead of plastic bottles or cans, and use glass baby bottles instead of plastic ones. Now all our water bottles AND my water filter are made from steel!
  • Stay away from BPA products: as much as possible, limit your contact with receipts, as these contain high levels of BPA.
  • Be selective with toys: Make sure that plastic toys you buy for your children are made from BPA-free material — especially for toys your little ones are likely to chew or suck on.
  • Don’t heat or microwave plastic: Microwave and store food in glass rather than plastic.
  • Buy powdered infant formula: Some experts recommend powders over liquids from BPA containers, as liquid is likely to absorb more BPA from the container.

A simple crunchy snack: tamari roasted almonds

Today’s recipe is a simple, gluten and dairy free snack with only 2 ingredients!

These tamari roasted almonds are a healthy and delicious snack. They’re crunchy and salty and keep your blood sugar balanced.

They’re also a great addition to your lunch or dinner! Almonds have a good amount of plant based protein, fiber and healthy fats. On top of that they’re high in vitamin E and magnesium. And they’re gluten and dairy free.

You can download and print the recipe here

Tamari is the gluten free version of soya sauce – it’s made with only fermented soya beans, where as most soya sauces are made with soya beans and wheat. So if you like to keep it gluten free it’s important to read the label.

Nuts are nutritious and should be part of your diet – except of course when you’re allergic or sensitive to them. If you are, try tamari coating and roasting pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds!

Because nuts and seeds can be high in calories and some are high in oxalates the advice is to not go crazy on them; keep it to 100 grams a day or less.

Do you eat nuts and seeds every day? Let us know in the comments!

I love compost. I love soil. I love gut bacteria!

I love compost and I love soil. I love growing gut bacteria!

Three years ago I started to make a lot of compost. I now compost food waste for many people plus my own garden waste in my nine hotbins. I also have several normal compost cones.

Many different things go in there. Garden waste, cooked food, leaves, a bit of soil, peelings, the leftovers from Gut Feeling’s kombucha process…

The bacteria love this diversity, eat the food waste and change what once was waste into something very valuable that feeds the soil in my garden. I use the no-dig methode and leave compost as a mulch on top of the soil. Over time the soil grows healthier and healthier and the vegetables thrive!

It’s the same with the gut.

When we compare our health to a tree, the symptoms and diagnosis are the branches. What mainstream medicine mostly does is try to make the branches work again. But when the roots of the tree aren’t healthy and the soil is poor, this is not going to work… So the soil where the roots grow is where we need to focus our attention! And that’s what we do in functional nutrition!

The ‘soil’ life in your gut is created by the bacteria in your intestines, the microbiome. They eat what you eat and when they love the diversity of the things you eat they love they thrive and produce health!

When we compare our health to a tree, the symptoms and diagnosis are the branches.

Let’s compare the population in your gut to a city. There are different nationalities and cultural groups in a city.

If you only feed one group their favourite foods, that population will grow. But other groups will grumble and move away.

A fun challenge: bring in more diversity!

So your gut bacteria want you to eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Now how can you do that? Here’s a fun challenge:

Go to the shop and add two vegetables or fruits to your trolley that you haven’t tried before or in a long time. Find a way to prepare them – raw, cookeed, stirfried, peeled, unpeeled, steamed… Then explore how you like them best. Did you find a way to prepare them that you like? Then add them to your regulars and choose two new ones.

Are you in? Which ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments!

A lovely coconut white fish dish

White fish, like cod, haddock or hake, is a great protein that is easy to digest for most people.

This looks like a lovely recipe and I’m going to try it out tonight!

I think I’ll replace the orange juice by a few more tomatoes. I don’t like orange in my food!

(worst thing: chocolate with orange 🤢!)

Are you a fish eater? Would you use the orange juice? Let me know in the comments!

You can download the recipe here:

Simple things to try first if you have bloating

Do you experience bloating? Do you feel full and heavy after eating? Have people asked you if you were pregnant (and you weren’t…) ? Would you love to get rid of the bloat?

If you have bloating, don’t immediately jump to medication, testing, supplements or restricting your diet.

There are some simple, obvious and often overlooked things you can do first if you want to get rid of bloating!

Get cooking

Did you know that something simple like cooking your own meals could actually help your digestion?

When your kitchen starts filling up with lovely aromas, your brain starts alerting your digestion that food is coming soon. It will send a message to your salivary glands, stomach, liver and pancreas to start producing all the digestive juices needed for proper break down and absorption.

Do you find cooking too time consuming and overwhelming? Have a look here for some really practical tips!

Sit down for a meal – without Netflix!

If you’re in a calm state your nervous system is in the parasympathetic state. You are in ‘rest and digest’ mode. Your body knows everything is safe, relaxes and focuses on sending more blood to your digestive organs.

However, when you are stressed, your body acts as if there’s danger. You think there’s no danger? It can’t differentiate between what you see on the news on tv and running for a tiger!

So even when you watch the news, play a competitive game or have a difficult conversation when you’re eating: your body immediately turns the switch to the sympathetic state. It sends more blood to your muscles, heart and lungs because you need to be able to jump up and run away. In dangerous situations it doesn’t make sense to focus on digestion.

Chew, chew, chew…

Chew your food

Are you someone who chews a few times and then swallows? Are you a fast eater?

Sadly enough, there are no teeth in your stomach. That means half digested food travels to the intestine – hello bloat!

So taking small bites, not eating in a rush and taking time to chew until liquid will help you to get rid of bloating

Try it out and let me know if it helps!

If it doesn’t help, schedule a free call to see if I can help you. Bloating is not just uncomfortable, it’s a red flag.

What can YOU do about hiatal hernia?

A hiatal hernia – aka hiatus hernia – is when part of your stomach moves up through the diaphragm into your chest. Your diaphragm is the big muscle that separates your chest and your abdominal area. It has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes before connecting to your stomach.

In a hiatal hernia, the stomach pushes up through that opening and into your chest. It’s very common and for most people it’s not causing problems.

For some it can cause symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux though.

If you go to your doctor, they will probably ask you to eat smaller, more frequent meals and do other things to help with the symptoms of GERD.

Plus they will probably advise you to go to the pharmacy for over-the-counter antacids or – if you’ve already done that – prescribe medication.

Is acid lowering medication the only solution?

The medication will make your stomach less acidic – but doesn’t do anything about the hiatal hernia. And lowering stomach acid has a big effect on how well you break down and absorb the nutrients you eat!

You can learn more about the importance of stomach acid in a video I made

Also: if you are diagnosed and have acid reflux, that doesn’t mean that the hiatal hernia is the only reason you have symptoms.

As a functional nutrition practitioner I look for the root causes of health issues. Because you can suppress symptoms, but WHY are they happening in the first place?

Just some reasons why you can have a hiatal hernia:

  • Your diaphragm might have become a bit lax or untrained – it’s a muscle after all! This can also happen when you get older.
  • If you have a big belly or experience bloating, that might push your stomach up
  • When your abdominal muscles are always tense, that might push your stomach up
  • It might happen after an accident or surgery
  • You can also develop a hiatal hernia after coughing, vomiting, straining during a bowel movement, exercising or lifting heavy objects

So what can you do? Here are some ideas!

  • Strengthen your diaphragm with diaphragmatic breathing
  • Lose weight
  • Take care of your gut health so you get rid of the bloating
  • Address constipation so you don’t have to do the straining
  • Work with a chiropractor on other hands-on practitioner who is well versed at visceral manipulation
  • Learn how to do belly breathing so your abdominal muscles get less tense
  • There are several exercises you can do for hiatal hernia: here’s a video with some really helpful ones.

So there are many things you can do before you start yourself on acid lowering medication.

Do you want to get rid of you acid reflux and are you looking for support with this? Let’s talk!

Book a free call here. Speak soon!

Is your tongue on fire?

One of the symptoms I hear about from clients is burning tongue. They describe it as a burning or scalding sensation that affects their tongue, but it can also affect your lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth.

For some it feels as if their mouth is dry and give them more thirst. And some people complain of a bitter or metallic taste.

A burning tongue is not only uncomfortable; it is something you need to look into further.

As always: symptoms have underlying causes!

Some of the underlying problems I often see in my practice with burning tongue:

  • A fungal infection of the mouth (oral thrush) – I see this with candida a lot.
  • An autoimmune condition called oral lichen planus
  • Anemia!
  • Other nutritional deficiencies, such as zinc and B vitamins.
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, food flavorings or additives or to your toothpaste (I had this!)
  • Reflux of stomach acid that comes into your mouth
  • Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or stress

What are some things you can you do for burning tongue?

  • Get checked at your GP for anemia – especially if you’re also fatigued
  • Take a good quality B complex
  • Try taking zinc for 2-3 weeks and see if that makes a difference.
  • Address candida and support your microbiome
  • Focus on stress management.

If you have a burning tongue and want to address this (and your other symptoms) have a look here or book a free 30 minutes Zoom call with me here.

Do you need to supplement with zinc?

Zinc is often mentioned as a good supplement to take when you want to protect yourself from viruses – quite useful at the moment!

But do you really need to supplement with zinc? How do you know you need it? And if you do, how do you take it?

For me, food always comes first. If you eat a varied diet you’re probably fine with your zinc intake. You find a good amount of zinc in pulses, nuts, seeds, raw cacao, oats (and other whole grains), shellfish and meat. It’s best absorbed from meat.

Supplementing with zinc is possible and okay if you do it in low dosage (15 – 30 mg/day) for a couple of weeks max. Over-supplementing with any mineral can create an imbalance. For instance, too much zinc affects our copper metabolism!

Because we’re all different you might need more zinc than someone else. Maybe because you’re not absorbing it very well. In that case you can actually test if you need to supplement, using liquid zinc.

Here’s how testing your zinc levels works:
  • Buy some liquid zinc sulphate
  • Take a teaspoon of it.
  • If it doesn’t have a taste for you, you’re probably deficient. Same if you just taste it a little.
  • If you do taste it well – it’s not a great taste, metallic! – you’re probably fine.

Let me know the results in the comments!