Happy New Year! If you’re like most Americans, you woke up this morning with a major problem. You’re re-addicted to sugar and carbohydrates. And you’re ready to kick the addiction and lose the unwanted weight.
You work hard all year to keep your sugar and carb consumption to a minimum. You know how bad they are for your health and your waistline. But then the holidays roll around and all that discipline goes right out the window. Trust me, I feel your pain.
Fortunately, there are some nutrient hacks that can help you get off the addiction rollercoaster and get back to eating right without major withdrawal issues. Here are four secrets that can help you get back on track – and they have nothing to do with willpower!
In fact, willpower will often make losing weight even harder. As soon as something in life happens to knock out the willpower, you eat like you’ve never eaten before. And the weight comes back so fast you don’t know what hit you.
That makes us feel like a failure. But what most people don't realize is that by emphasizing self-control, doctors and diet gurus are overlooking an entire aspect of weight management. And by doing so, they're contributing to your failure.
It’s very likely that the reason you’ve failed to lose weight is that you haven’t recognized why you can’t resist certain foods. Eating small portions and making healthy choices is not just a matter of discipline.
Craving certain foods is often simply a sign of a physiological imbalance. Until you correct that imbalance, you’ll be waging a war with food forever.
Food cravings are your body’s way of telling you there’s an imbalance. Once you know what a particular craving means, you can correct the imbalance and be free from temptation forever.
Of course, you can still continue to eat these foods. But you won’t be hooked on them anymore. You'll be able to resist chocolate, sugar, and starches. Fats won’t be your downfall – they’ll actually help you lose weight and feel satisfied. And water-retaining salt won’t be overly tempting.
So what are these addictions – and how can you get rid of them forever?
Addiction #1: Chocolate – Your Body’s Need for a Common Mineral
Are you a chocoholic? If you are, you’re not alone. A lot of people struggle to say no to chocolate. Women in particular struggle with this fantastic treat. That’s because women are more likely to be deficient in a mineral. And one of the primary symptoms of this deficiency is a chocolate craving.
Just ask Jackie. As a child, she stole money from her parents to buy chocolate. And she stole chocolate from her mom – even the ones that her father gave her mom on special occasions. She just couldn’t stop herself.
It wasn't until she reached her 30s that she discovered why she craved chocolate. That’s when she started looking for natural ways to treat her PMS symptoms. Her doctor suggested she try boosting her magnesium consumption to 1,000 mg daily. Not only did it help her PMS, she noticed her chocolate craving disappeared as well.
So what’s the connection between chocolate and magnesium? Chocolate just so happens to be the food that’s highest in magnesium. So when you’re not getting enough magnesium in your food and supplements, it’s natural to crave chocolate.
What Jackie really likes about taking more magnesium was that she could still enjoy eating chocolate, but she didn’t have to eat as much. She could eat a little and be totally satisfied. And she didn’t gain weight. She could even walk away from it without feeling pulled back to it.
But that’s not all you need to consider with a chocolate craving. It’s possible you don’t have a magnesium deficiency – at least in terms of a lab number. But you might be taking too much calcium, which can mimic a magnesium deficiency. That’s because the average person needs to consume equal amounts of calcium and magnesium. Getting too much calcium throws your body off balance and the cravings are your body’s way of correcting the imbalance.
Most people need only about 500 mg of supplemental calcium. If you’re taking more, you’re probably going to crave chocolate. Chocoholics should increase their magnesium intake to bowel tolerance (comfortably loose stools) or no more than 1,000 mg. Most of us need more magnesium than we’re getting.
Addiction #2: Two Reasons You’re Craving Sweets and Starches
Craving any food that turns into sugar quickly can be either due to an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans or a blood sugar imbalance.
Candida lives on sugar. Like all living things, it fights for its life. When it’s starving, it will do whatever it can to trick, con, or beg you to give it food. But eating sweets and refined starches perpetuates the overgrowth and craving cycle. If you have too much candida you have to starve it, kill it with antifungals, and increase your colonies of yeast-fighting friendly bacteria with probiotics.
Craving carbs can also be a sign of a blood sugar imbalance. All foods eventually turn into sugar. Refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) turn into sugar quickly. If you don't eat enough protein, your body may be crying out for energy from sugar or starches. A doughnut or an energy bar will lift your blood sugar quickly. But it will drop it quickly, causing another sugar or starch craving. To stop this craving, eat protein at each meal and eat every four to five hours.
Some people have a sensitive response to insulin. If your body produces more insulin than it needs, or if it produces it inappropriately, you'll crave sugar, refined starches, fruit juice, or alcohol.
You may also crave carbohydrates that turn into sugar quickly, such as potatoes, bread, and potato chips. If so, add supplemental chromium (500 mcg twice a day for two months) to your increased protein and frequent meals to help regulate your blood sugar.
Another nutrient to consider taking to help balance your blood sugar levels is berberine. In one study, berberine helped the participants lose an average of five pounds of weight. Many people who take berberine to lower their cholesterol find that they lose an inch or two around their waist as well.
That’s because berberine is great for your metabolism. It can help lower your blood pressure and your blood sugar. In fact, the author of another study said that “recent discoveries have provided novel evidence that it may be considered a promising tool to counteract metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.” And yet another study showed it can lower fasting glucose by 20% and two-hour oral glucose tolerance test scores by 26%. All of which explains why you can lose weight by taking this nutrient – and reduce your cravings for sweets and carbs.
Addiction #3: Craving Fatty Foods? You Might Need More EFAs
Eating high-fat foods fills you up and makes you feel satisfied. That's why some people eat them. Eat the right fats, and you’ll lose weight. But some people just can't get enough of the bad fats, particularly those in processed foods. These people may be misinterpreting their body’s cry for a particular kind of fat: essential fatty acids (EFAs).
We need a balance of fats, but many people get too many processed fats and vegetable oils and not enough EFAs. As you increase your EFAs, you’ll find that cravings for processed foods will decrease.
Essential fats, if you remember, are fats your body needs and can’t make. The foods highest in EFAs are fatty wild fish (farmed fish are low in EFAs), flax oil, soy, and walnuts. Add them to your daily diet or begin taking two or more essential fatty acid capsules a day. A variety of EFAs (flax oil, fish oil, borage oil) will give you the balance your body needs. Essential fatty acids are included in Complete Daily Oils.
Addiction #4: Craving Salt: More Than Just Stress
Sodium is a mineral that your body requires to function properly, but if you’re craving salt, your body is trying to tell you something. But what exactly is it trying to say?
For most people, a salt craving is your body trying to tell you that you’re dehydrated. Your body regulates the level of sodium through numerous processes and pathways. That’s because the sodium concentration in your body must remain in a narrow range. If your levels become too high or too low, it causes problems. In order for these processes to work properly, you need plenty of water. Water allows your kidneys to flush out too much salt and it allows your body to move salt where your body needs it. Remember, your body is about 70% water. Keep the water flowing, and it helps salt do its job.
Minerals like sodium and magnesium help your cells stay healthy and allow them to communicate effectively. This helps your metabolism stay high and your body to burn fat. When you get too much or too little sodium, your cells – and your metabolism – don’t function as well.
Your adrenal glands, which handle stress, also need sodium to function. You may have noticed that you crave salt more often when you're under pressure than when you’re relaxed. If so, pay attention to the stresses in your life and take steps to reduce them. Drink more water throughout the day. Exercise regularly. Get an extra hour’s sleep. Eat healthy foods. And watch your salt cravings lessen.
One sign of sodium deficiency is inexplicable fatigue. This might include a depressed mood and low energy. There are a lot of things that could cause this, but a sodium deficiency is one consideration. An extreme example of fatigue is muscle cramps or slow recovery from exercise. When your body doesn't have enough sodium, your muscles fatigue and don’t recover fast.
This can lead to weight gain. In fact, one recent study showed how eating salt can help you lose weight. The study found that salt actually helps your body break down fat.
Finally, another sign of chronic sodium deficiency is food allergies. If you've started having various food allergies, it’s quite possibly a sodium deficiency. That's because a sodium deficiency can lead to an allergy of just about any type of food. There are some food allergies I wouldn't attribute to sodium deficiency, particularly peanut allergies. But there are so many it can cause, I can't list them all.
So what's the solution? It's simple. Buy some quality sea salt and season your food to taste. Salt isn't bad for you and you don't need to be scared of it. Quality sea salt is great for you and should be enjoyed regularly.
Obviously, if you notice eating salt causes your blood pressure to spike, then you probably don't have a sodium deficiency – or you have other issues causing your hypertension. Work with a naturally oriented doctor to find out why your pressure is high before indulging in too much salt.
There’s a lot going on in our body these days that can cause weight gain. These are just a few of the issues contributing to our cultures war against excess weight. I’ll have more in the future on how you can lose those unwanted pounds and keep the weight off.