Is your Food cravings caused by Dehydration?
Often dehydration is misinterpreted as hunger and sometimes-even be interpreted as cravings!
Did you know when you are dehydrated your blood volume can actually drop?! It’s true, and this slight decrease in blood volume can decrease the amount of nutrients and oxygen (in our blood) that reaches the cells of our body. Many of us are not optimally hydrated and for those of you like me who like the occasional caffeinated beverage, you are at even more risk of dehydration due to the diuretic effects of caffeine.
Want to know my #1 secret when it comes to staying optimally hydrated? Measure your water and aim for a minimum of 2 litres of clean filtered water every day. Increase that amount during physical activity, after a caffeinated drink or if you live in a hot/dry climate.
Are your cravings the result of Nutrient deficiencies?
Here’s the Thing: When your body is lacking key nutrients it can turn up the volume on hunger and cravings.
Are you like one of the thousands of people who have strong cravings for certain foods?
The first questions you want to ask yourself when you are struggling with a craving is “Am I currently riding the blood sugar roller coaster?” If you have made an effort to each on schedule and have made some great whole food choices, then there could be an underlying nutritional need your body is experiencing that is contributing to your cravings.
So how can you tell what your body wants? Sometimes the foods we crave can be an indication of nutrients we are looking for. An example of this is a craving for dark chocolate around your monthly cycle. Quality chocolate can be a source of magnesium, and a woman’s requirement for magnesium goes up slightly before her cycle begins. Craving greens could be a sign of needing more minerals, craving red meat or liver could be a sign of a body looking for more iron. I can easily be a vegetarian right up until my monthly time, at which point I turn into a carnivorous beast who is not satisfied until I consume some animal rich source of iron and protein (yes I strongly encourage plant based eating, but and sharing some real life truth with you).
So how can you tell what you are really lacking, based on what you are craving? The honest to goodness, truth? You cant! Cravings can be an indication of deficiencies and if there is one thing I have learned about our nutrient requirements, its that we never need just one thing!
Our body may be indicating the desire for a food that is high in a particular nutrient, but the important thing to know is that no one single nutrient is ever really needed on its own. If you are not riding the blood sugar rollercoaster and you are continuing to experience cravings that you feel could be related to possible nutrient deficiencies, my suggestion is to focus on 80% of your calories from whole foods, they are in fact the most bio-available source of nutrition for our body. (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes)
If you struggle with eating this much of your food from whole food, or if you want to pump up the volume on the quality of nutrition you are eating, I also recommend all of my clients use a concentrated whole food supplement like Juice Plus+. This fills the gaps and adds more nutrient dense foods in concentrated form to your body every day!
Are you cravings a result of blood sugar instability?
If you are like the many of us busy humans, adulting in our fast paced, highly stressed environment. Living with little to no prioritizing of a healthy eating schedule….. All, while ingesting fast paced (processed) foods, you my friend may be riding the blood sugar rollercoaster, which could also be a significant contribution to your cravings for the wrong foods.
This ride of highs and lows in energy, moments of uncontrolled hunger, combined with a possibility of mood swings, often making those around you question your stability is usually the result of high and lows in blood sugar. The good news is, this is easily preventable with these 3 simple strategies:
1) Get on an eating schedule. In order to manage your blood sugar levels and frankly your sanity, you must find a routine in your daily eating patterns.
PRO TIP: Your eating schedule has to be the same day after day, especially when you are first establishing your healthy eating routine to stabilize blood sugar levels and energy throughout the day.
2) Eat REAL food!! Whole foods are a rich source of blood sugar stabilizing fibre. Whole foods also provide enormous amounts of nutrition (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) that your body needs to function optimally.
PRO TIP: Nutrient deficiencies do not occur because we don't take enough isolated vitamin and mineral formulas. They exist because we do not eat enough of the right whole foods!
3) Kick the refined sugar habit. This my friend, is the hardest of the three steps and I encourage you to start with steps 1 and 2 to lessen the blow of coming off the sugar crazy train.
PRO TIP: Never sugar detoxed before? You may be surprised how correct that last statement is! Once you are eating on a schedule and planning for more of the right foods, look at where refined sugar is still sneaking its way into your daily diet. This immune supressing, candida feeding, bloat and inflammation causing fiend no longer has room in your healthy diet. Remember when you cut refined sugar you also cut the food supply of many unruly and unhealthy bacteria in your gut. Be prepared for a few days of intensified cravings.
If you have mastered steps 1 and 2 prior to step 3, you may find this last step is not as scary as you had anticipated.
Do you struggle with cravings? Its one of the most common complaints a Nutritionist works with in new clients and there is a real reason cravings exist!
The TOP 4 causes of cravings I see are:
1) Blood sugar instability – Not eating on a routine or consuming high glycemic foods often.
2) Nutrient deficiencies - When our body is lacking key nutrients it can turn up the volume on hunger and cravings.
3) Dehydration – Often dehydration is misinterpreted as hunger and even cravings.
4) Feeding the wrong gut bacteria. The bacteria in your gut have a huge influence on the foods we crave.
Stay tuned over the next couple days as we dig into each of these together!
Alisa Herriman has been researching and teaching Nutrition since 2003. Leaving her job in the health care industry to share her passion for healthy living, Alisa travels all over Canada sharing her mission and teaching communities how to prevent and fight disease with Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.