Mama Baron (Lena) is not a doctor! Any and all advise shared on this website should never replace that of a Medical Doctor.
However, Mama Baron is currently studying with
The Global College of Natural Medicine in their Holistic Health Practitioner program.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chronic Sweets and Food Cravings

WHY DO WE CRAVE SWEETS?
There are a few different reasons that a person may struggle with chronic food cravings (in this case, foods with many added sugars to them.) One reason could be a hormone imbalance. The hormones that are most likely out of balance are serotonin and/or insulin. Sweets are often associated with comfort or a “reward” that we feel is deserve. Our body sees sweets as serotonin, which is considered a “feel good” hormone. This is why we often crave sweets when we are feeling weary, stressed, or depressed. When we eat something sweet, our serotonin level will rise. Unfortunately, the increase does not last and we will most likely want more and more sweets soon after we take our first serving.

Some people crave sweets after a meal. Most likely the reason for sweet cravings at this time is because of an insulin imbalance. This is actually called “insulin resistance”. When a person eats a meal that consists of highly refined carbohydrate foods or a sugar-filled dessert, (refined carbohydrates refers to foods where machinery has been used to remove the high fiber bits, the bran and the germ from the grain. White rice, white bread, sugary cereals, and pasta and noodles made from white flour are all examples of refined carbohydrates. – Dr. Rob Hicks, BBC Health) their body will quickly turn the refined carbohydrates into glucose (sugar’s energy source.) Insulin is the hormone that helps the body move the glucose out of our blood stream and into the cells of our body so that it can be burned as energy for the body. If a person consistently eats highly refined foods or foods with a lot of added sugar, the insulin level in the body will consistently be high.

Unfortunately, the body eventually gets used to high insulin and may begin to resist it. When the body resists the insulin, the glucose stays in the blood and eventually is stored as a fat and the cells of the body are deprived of the energy they need to maintain health. The weakened cells in the body are what cause the body to crave sweets (comfort.)

WHAT CAN WE DO TO ELIMINATE THE CRAVINGS?
So what can we do to heal our body and eliminate the dangerous chronic sweet cravings? There are several options that a person has to heal the body and eventually eliminate chronic sweet cravings. I will break the options into two choices, evaluating the food we eat and making the necessary changes, and supplementing the body with certain nutrients.

FOOD IDEAS
I would be amiss if I did not mention the importance of a balanced diet. A good way to determine if your diet is considered balanced is by looking at the colors of the foods that you are eating. First ask yourself if the colors are natural or not. If they are not, they don’t count. If they are, look for some basic colors, for example red, yellow, green, orange, and brown. If you can say that you have eaten something that consists of these colors multiple times throughout your day, then you most likely have a balanced diet. If you do not see these colors on your table on a regular basis, it is your choice whether you are going to invite their help in your journey to feeling better or not. If you decide only to make one change, let me give you a suggestion, Fiber!

Many people immediately think of fruits and vegetables when they think of fiber. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. However, there are many other ways to get fiber into our diets. Some of them are even tasty. Fiber One is a brand name for a line of fiber rich foods. They have tasty cereals, granola bars, yogurts, and breads that are packed with fiber. You can get almost 50% of your daily-recommended fiber by eating just one bowl of their cereal. All of their products are low in calories and high in fiber, yet they taste great! Let me tell you why I have suggested fiber. The following is a list of reasons given by Doctor Sears M.D.

Fiber steadies your blood-sugar level. Fiber, especially the soluble type, found in psyllium, bran, and legumes slows the absorption of sugar from the intestines. This steadies the blood sugar level and lessens the ups and downs of insulin secretion. So a breakfast and lunch containing moderate amounts of soluble fibers, such as bran, fruit, and oats, can be especially valuable. Keeping insulin levels low and stable also helps the body store less fat, another perk for people trying to control their weight.Fiber slows fat absorption. Fiber may also slow down the absorption of fat from what you eat. This is another weight-control perk offered by a high-fiber diet. The stools of persons eating a high-fiber diet have a higher fat content than stools from someone eating low-fiber meals.Fiber reduces cholesterol. A diet high in soluble fiber, such as that found in oat bran, whole oats, psyllium, legumes, barley, fruit, and prunes, lowers blood levels of the harmful type of cholesterol (LDL) without lowering the good cholesterol (HDL) levels. As it travels down the intestines, soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gluey gel which picks up cholesterol and carries it out of the body. Yet, doctors caution, adding more soluble fibers to your diet is not a license to eat high cholesterol foods. High fiber diets are usually low in fat, too, and the cholesterol-lowering effects may be related to less fat in the diet as well as to fiber. Recent studies showed that eating an extra ten grams of fiber daily (the average American adult eats only eleven grams of fiber a day), decreased the risk of dying from heart disease by 17-29 percent."

SUPPLEMENTS
As I have already mentioned, serotonin levels in our body influence our food cravings. A few natural supplements can affect serotonin levels in our body. The first is an amino acid called 5-HTP. Taking a 5-HTP supplement half an hour before a meal can “turn off” cravings and hunger pangs by meeting the brains need for serotonin. 5-HTP is not a synthetic form of serotonin. It is actually a precursor to the amino acid in our body that creates serotonin. It aids in our body’s serotonin uptake, kind of like kicking things in gear when they have become too relaxed. 5-HTP can cause sleepiness at high doses. I recommend taking 50mg per serving throughout the day with 300mg being the maximum dosage in one day. There are Timed Release 5-HTP Supplements Available.

There are three different herbs that are known to help balance our body’s serotonin levels. They are known as adaptogenic herbs. Often times the reason that our body has hormonal imbalances is because of stress. Whether the stress is physical, emotional, or mental does not matter. Our body reacts to all stress in the same way. Stress weakens the adrenal system, which includes many hormonal functions of our body. Adaptogenic herbs are able to determine the needs in the body individually and work accordingly to balance the body. The three herbs that I recommend for people who struggle with chronic food cravings and addiction are Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola Rosea Root. These herbs can cause sleepiness if taken in higher dosages. I recommend 200-400mg twice per day.

In order for the body to be truly balanced, it needs to be provided with the proper nutrition. Realistically, it is almost impossible to meet all of our nutritional needs by just eating healthy foods. Supplementing with multi vitamins and minerals are often a very good solution. For chronic food cravings and addiction (particularly sweets cravings), there are certain vitamins that are helpful as a person tries to overcome the problem. All of the B vitamins are very helpful in rebuilding the body. Many people are deficient in B vitamins, especially women, mostly because of stress and birth control pills. B vitamins aid in the body’s metabolism as well as the wellbeing of the cells in the body. I recommend supplementing with a mega B complex supplement in addition to a multi vitamin. There are a handful of other vitamins and minerals that are very important in rebuilding the health of a person with chronic food cravings; by supplementing with a good multi-vitamin a person will meet these needs.

Researchers are finding more and more benefits to supplementing the body with Omega 3 fatty acids (often found in fish oil.) I highly recommend supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have many benefits. I will focus on the benefits related to our subject. Omegas 3’s are able to regulate the insulin level in the body and because of this; the body is able to use the fat that is stored in the body as fuel. So in short, Omega 3 fatty acids aid in many ways in the metabolism of fat. They have been found very helpful for people who are working on loosing weight. To determine if your body is deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids, ask yourself how much fish you eat. If you do not eat fish at least once a week, chances are your body needs Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The average dosage for Omega 3 supplements is 1 gram per day. For weight loss, I recommend 4 grams per day with 6 grams being the maximum dosage in one day. Fish oil can cause what are known as “fish burps” (burps that have a fishy after taste.) This will not last long. You can avoid this by purchasing high quality fish oil supplements collected from deep-water sea fish.

Overcoming chronic food cravings can feel like an overwhelming task. My suggestion is to start by deciding to clear your home of all sweets! For many people this step alone will take time to master. I have been through this journey personally, and I have learned that it is mandatory that I do not allow sweets into my home. By sweets, I mean anything that you would serve as a dessert or a sweet snack. Not necessarily, your table sugar, although I did this for a time to keep me from baking sweets. I have a little boy and a husband and they enjoy their sweets as much as I do (except they are not addicted) but they survived the sweet strike. After a month or two of no sweets and working on balancing my diet and supplementing I have been able to bring a few sweets back into the home once in a while. I am grateful for the Weight Watchers and Skinny Cow brand of frozen treats! They have low calories and high fiber. They are a good sanity saver on occasion. Don’t just clear your house of your sweets. Clear out everyone’s sweets! I took the chance to introduce new kinds of snacks to my preschooler. He now really likes bread and honey, whole-wheat honey bagels, yogurt, string cheese, baby carrots, tortillas and Hummus dip, and roasted and salted Pumpkin seeds.

There are many options to decide from of ways to overcome chronic sweet cravings and addiction. Start with one or two things combining steps if you want to, and then continue to move forward. In one sentence my suggestion would be: Step1: Remove sugar from your home and determine not to bring it into the home. Step 2: Introduce fiber into your diet on a daily basis. Step 3: Begin a regimen of supplements according to what you can do and what your needs are.

RESOURSES

www.AskDrSears.com Keyword: Fantastic Fiber
www.BodyBuildingForYou.com Keyword: Omega 3 Fish Oil & Weight Loss
David McEnvoy Copyright 2005
www.MDIdea.com Keyword: Griffonia Seed
www.WomenToWomen.com Keyword: Insulin

Claims and Warnings
Lena Baron is not a Medical Doctor. She will be considered a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner or a Holistic Health Practitioner in the Natural Medicine Industry. The suggestions in this article should not be replaced by the suggestions and prescriptions given by a Medical Doctor. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements made in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
August 2008

1 comment:

Jim Purdy said...

You said:
"If you decide only to make one change, let me give you a suggestion, Fiber!"

That's great advice! In fact, I really like the idea of making only one or two changes at a time. Too many changes at once always seems too overwhelming for me, and I often don't make any changes,

And fiber is wonderful. I've just started a new high-fiber diet, and I'm hoping it will help me with lots of health issues.

Thanks for sharing.

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