There’s no better time than the holidays to notice that our food cravings are getting out of control. The stress holiday stress and the tendency to eat less healthy, causes mineral imbalances which create food cravings. Thankfully, we can temper the cravings and bring our body back into balance with the help of herbs and supplements.
Cravings for salty foods is very common during the Holidays. Your body needs more sodium. Such an imbalance was the probable cause when someone decided to dip their big salted pretzel into melted chocolate, creating the highly sought-after Christmas treat of chocolate covered pretzels. As their cravings escalated, they followed that by dipping their potato chips in chocolate as well. And I imagine the guilt of this wild escapade caused them to dip their strawberries in chocolate to clear their conscious, lol.
Cravings for salty foods like potato chips indicates an imbalance in your sodium levels. This happens because high stress and a less than optimal diet, weakens your adrenal glands. These glands produce cortisol in response to stress. Sodium helps the body to produce cortisol, this is one reason you crave salty foods when under prolonged stress. Another reason for craving salt during the holidays is that we tend to become dehydrated. The cold weather, along with the extra caffeine and holiday beverages all contribute to our forgetting to drink our 8 glasses of water daily. Our cells become dehydrated and they trigger a craving for sodium because sodium helps to maintain the fluid volume in your cells. Stress also affects how much of the hormone aldosterone is produced by your adrenal glands. Aldosterone plays a role in maintaining blood pressure and mineral balances in the body. Sodium is used to increase blood volume and raise BP which is another reason your body craves salt.
Common signs of Sodium Deficiency:
Cravings for salty foods, popcorn, chips, pretzels.
Loss of appetite or a feeling of nausea when you try to eat - sodium is needed to produce hydrochloric acid, an enzyme in your stomach which helps digest your food.
Depression and crying for no reason
Dry chapped lips
Increased food sensitivities due to lack of hydrochloric acid to digest your food properly. This may also trigger loose stool or diarrhea.
The reason the potato chips and salty pretzels don’t get rid of your cravings is because they are full of processed table salt. Refined salt is stripped of naturally occurring trace minerals and then anti-caking agents and dextrose are added to the salt. Because of these chemical changes, the salt is not assimilated properly, and not healthy for your body. What you need is salt in its natural form. Several plants are very high in naturally occurring sodium that your body needs to function. Spirulina, Kelp, and dandelion are some of the best sources. Celery is a good sources of natural sodium as well, if you’re craving something salty try snacking on celery sticks instead, and see if that stops the craving. Redmond salt, Herbamare – an organic herbal seasoning salt or Celtic sea salt are good alternatives to table salt for your salt shaker. They all provide a natural source of sodium your body can assimilate.
Spirulina, a blue green algae, is my choice for stopping salt cravings. Over the years I have had many clients who could consume a bag of potato chips when under stress. I’d have them take 3 Spirulina 2-3 times a day, and by the end of the week the bag of chips could sit unopened. Spirulina, is full of so many nutrients, including all 8 amino acids, that it is often used as a plant based multiple vitamin and mineral. In addition to cutting the cravings for salt, spirulina helps the body maintain balanced blood sugar, supports healthy liver function, increases energy production, improves memory, removes heavy metals and acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect the brain.
For additional support to help your body stop the cravings for salty foods make sure you drink enough water during times of stress. Support the high stress with adaptogen formulas like Nutri-Calm and AdaptaMax which provide B-vitamins and support healthy adrenal glands. AdaptaMax has added chromium in the formula which helps stop cravings for sugar.
Conquering other food cravings:
Chocolate: Magnesium Complex can help stop cravings for chocolate (remember the chocolate covered pretzels). Magnesium, which is depleted by stress is needed for healthy nerve function. Magnesium is needed to produce insulin as well, so it can get depleted when you eat a lot of carbohydrates or sugars. When someone is low in magnesium, they often suffer from several of the following symptoms: muscle cramps, nervous irritability, menstrual cramps, tension headaches, constipation, insomnia, muscle tightness, TMJ, and feeling uncomfortable around big crowds of people.
Sweet tooth: Licorice Root, a natural source of chromium helps stop cravings for sweets, by improving blood sugar balance and supporting healthy adrenal function. I like Nature’s Sunshine’s Licorice root ATC which is a concentrated herbal extract, 1 twice a day can make a big difference in lessening cravings for sweets.
A deficiency in zinc will also create cravings for carbohydrates and particularly wheat. Since a chromium deficiency can also contribute to similar cravings, we need to be aware of other symptoms that a zinc deficiency can cause to help figure out which one to supplement with. Most common of low zinc are: skin problems such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, rashes, and hives, slow to heal wounds, white spots on the finger nails, weak immunity, cravings for sweets, yeast infections, frequent cold sores, and loss of the ability to taste or smell. Zinc is depleted when you fight a cold or virus for several weeks, so keep that in mind.
Coffee: Nature's Sunshine's Adrenal Support formula Chinese Blood Stimulator can help reduce cravings for coffee. Weak adrenal glands crave caffeine to stimulate them to going. Your liver likes bitter herbs like coffee to stimulate its functions which helps improve its function. In the past I would recommend this formula to my clients who drank too much coffee. After a couple weeks on the formula they could easily cut back on their coffee intake, and in fact, it often did not even taste good to them anymore. In addition, Chinese Blood Stimulator improves moods making people feel less depressed or discouraged.
Breads, pasta, carbohydrates: The supplement 5HTP, or the herbal formula Chinese Mood Elevator from Nature's Sunshine can help stop cravings for carbohydrates, by improving your levels of serotonin in the blood. When serotonin levels become depleted a whole list of symptoms quickly follow: Cravings for carbohydrates (they help to form 5HTP), vague muscle aches and pains, insomnia, depression, binge eating, tension headaches, migraine headaches, PMS headaches, mood swings, body aches, generalized fatigue, joint swellings, numbness and tingling, fibromyalgia symptoms, obsessive compulsive behavior and addictions (alcohol, smoking, and stimulants).
Hope these tips help you have a healthy happy Holiday season, Valerie
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