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.
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
Personal care products
Feminine hygiene products
Thermal printer receipts
CDs and DVDs
Dental filling sealants
So what can you do?
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.
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.
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 used to make tons of jam from the berries in my garden. I had a recipe that used only half the sugar. But that’s still a lot of sugar. So I stopped doing that. And was looking for a way to make jam without a lot of sugar.
Now I make small batches with any kind of fruit available and use chia seeds to thicken it into a delicious jam. And this jam actually helps to keep your gut functioning well.
Berries are just great. They are loaded with anti-oxidants, have a good amount of plant nutrients, minerals and fiber and they help fight inflammation. Plus: the beneficial bacteria in your gut thrive on them.
More fiber, less sugar
Chia seeds also pack a nutritional punch. Almost all their carbs are fiber, they have a decent amount of protein ánd are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. I have not tried this yet but I think you could use the cheaper linseeds as well. They are just as amazing. I do think you need to use them freshly ground, so not whole.
I really love making this make jam without a lot of sugar!
Are you looking for more recipes? I post a weekly recipe on my blog.
2 cups of berries, any kind. They can be fresh or frozen
2 tbps of chia seeds
1-2 tbsp of unrefined sweetener (maple syrup or raw honey work well)
1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon (optional, depending on the tartness of the fruit)
How to do it:
Heat fruit in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the fruit is heated through and begins to break down and bubble.
Use a spoon or potato masher to mash the fruit to your desired consistency.
Stir in the chia seeds and lemon juice.
Now add your sweetener to taste – but in moderation. Start with 1 tablespoon.
Remove from heat and let cool for a bit. The jam will get thicker!
Give the jam another good stir. Then serve or transfer to a jar
It keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge or , up to 3 months in the freezer.
I noticed in my practice that there is some confusion about gluten free grains. Many people think that oats are gluten free. And that gluten free oats are more processed than normal oats. So let’s look into the question: are oats gluten free?
One of the first things I advise clients with digestive issues is to eliminate gluten. And many of them start feeling a lot better! But it can be confusing. And hard. Because the rest of the world eats gluten, gluten is in almost every processed food and gluten containing foods are a big part of our social life. Think birthday cake, tea and biscuits and beer…
So are oats gluten free or not?
Well, technically oats are a gluten free grain. But they are usually grown in fields where they grow oats and glutenous grains (like wheat, rye and barley) in rotation. Which means that when there are still wheat kernels on the field from last year, they will grow wheat plants between the oats. So the oat harvest will probably have quite a bit of wheat in it as well.
Then when the oats are processed in a factory, guess what else gets processed there? Loads of wheat.
So oats in themselves are gluten free but are contaminated with (mostly) wheat. Oats that are marked ‘gluten free’ are the same oats, but they are grown in fields where they don’t grow gluten containing grain and processed away from wheat.
So yay! You can still have your porridge in the morning if you’re following a gluten free protocol. As long as it explicitly says they are gluten free. The same for oatcakes, oat biscuits, oat bars etc. Want to make your own oat bars? Here’s a recipe!
Which is great because oats are a very nutritious grain. They’re a good source of fiber, trace minerals and even plant-based protein. Eating gluten-free oatmeal regularly is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.
Golden or turmeric milk is a cow’s, nut or coconut milk, heated with a good amount of turmeric in it. I shouldn’t be saying this as a nutrition and herb expert because of it’s great properties, but… I didn’t like to drink it! The reason was that I used turmeric powder. That leaves you with quite a lot of bits in your milk and it has quite a strong bitter taste.
But now they’re selling fresh turmeric root in my local shop, so I decided to try again. Delicious! I loved it! Maybe you want to have a try as well.
Turmeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And this is not something woo woo to brush aside: there are currently over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin.
In several of those papers the researchers compared turmeric to conventional medicine, and found out it worked equally well or even better than the pharmaceutical medication!
Recently turmeric has even been recognised for helping with depression!
Turmeric milk recipe
I like to use fresh ginger root in my turmeric milk as well, as it makes it nice and warming. And I do add a tiny bit of sweetener.
One warning: turmeric can stain your clothes yellow, so don’t wear your new white shirt and make sure you put on a apron!
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
Optional: a teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 mug of coconut milk from a can, full fat
1/2 mug of water
Or; 1 mug of home made nut or seed milk
A tiny bit of sweetener: 3 drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup, optional
Put all your ingredients except for the sweetener in a saucepan
Heat gently until hot but not boiling
Leave it on a very low heat for 5 minutes
Pour through a tea strainer and add the sweetener if you want
Depression and anxiety are on the rise. In the UK we experience them ten times as often as in 1945.
Antidepressants like Prozac are among the most widely used medications. Where is seems easy to solve the problem by popping a pill, quite a lot of people don’t really feel better after six months. And it can be really challenging to come off them. I’ve been there myself: it took me four years! This is one of the reasons why there are many who don’t want to take antidepressants.
In this study, 3 groups of 20 participants with major depression according to a commonly used scale, received either Prozac, Prozac + 1g of oil-based curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, or just curcumin alone for 6 weeks. The combination group had the best results (77.8%) followed by the Prozac (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%). But these differences were not statistically significant. Are you getting that? The curcumin was just as effective as Prozac! And the authors emphasized curcumin’s high degree of safety up to dosages of 12g a day.
We have been taught that depression is a chemical imbalance. It’s supposed to be the result of a deficiency in chemicals called neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine. But most of the theories about neurotransmitter deficiencies as the cause of depression have never been proven. What wedó know is that study after study is showing us that inflammation is an underlying cause of so many of the medical conditions we are experiencing, and that there really is no separation between the immune and nervous systems.
Turmeric is a root, actually more properly called a rhizome. It looks a bit like its cousin, ginger root. That is, until you cut it open and you see the bright yellow inside! One of the benefits of turmeric is that it is strongly anti-inflammatory. And turmeric is one of the champions: it both prevents inflammation and fights it once inflammation takes hold.
Other ways in which curcumin can affect depression are that it reduces oxidative stress – the damage caused by free radicals – and it calms down the adrenal stress response system.
Try it out
Curcumin is easy to get and absorbs relatively well. I use it in my practice in a form called Meriva, but you can use any good quality curcumin extract. I typically start with 500 mg twice a day. It is safe to use while you are on an antidepressant medication, so it is something you can use if you are trying to work with your doctor to wean yourself off of an antidepressant. You can also use a couple of teaspoons of turmeric powder in your cooking or in your smoothies. For better absorption add some ground black pepper. Or drink some ginger turmeric milk before bed!