As it turns out, my old friend anemia is here to stay a little longer…
I really should have known by the soul destroying feeling that washed over me when I saw an unwashed dish in the sink. Those of you who have experienced this, or chronic fatigue, know it is a slow, silent creeper-upper-on-you-er. It is so slow you don’t even realise that even the very smallest of tasks has begun to feel overwhelming.
Now that I’ve just about recovered from my umpteenth iron infusion, I look back and laugh at myself. There are a few undeniable ways I should have known..
- My intense craving for sweet tea (starts as a desire for one which builds to a bucket 6 weeks later)
- An “all-of-a-sudden” craving for chocolate peanuts
- Then when lollies entered the picture I finally get the message
OK I had other very obvious signs like headaches and dizziness, but really my body had been telling me all along.
It started with less energy after exercising and playing with the kids and sleeping a little more each week. But from the start there was an undeniable evolution to my cravings.
That’s when I could have caught it.
Your body is the most intelligent piece of equipment ever created, it knows way more than we do and is wired to seek out whatever it needs to function optimally. In my case, it needed more and more energy since the oxygen wasn’t getting circulated, so it sent signal after signal to me (through cravings) to get some quick burning fuel (simple sugars) so”we” got through the day.
No willpower required
Since learning about “crowding out” (a component of my nutrition course with IIN), I will never again consider willpower an effective tool for eliminating cravings. Crowding out means adding things into your diet or lifestyle which simply “crowds out” a craving that is not useful to your body or mind.
As a self-confessed sweet tooth (especially after a meal), I have spent years trying to figure out how to get rid of the intense sweet cravings. I’ve got plenty of willpower which works when I have, ahem, willpower, but when busy or stressed, my energy went elsewhere and my willpower became wontpower.
The other reason I love crowding out is that, like I’ve demonstrated in my iron story, a craving is such a good thing. Your body is signalling to you that something is out of balance and so is looking for the quickest, easiest relief for you. That may be sugar mid afternoon, a cigarette after a stressful encounter, a beer at the end of the week, coffee or tea first thing in the morning…
We all have many examples of cravings. Usually when I ask someone they can easily identify those in their life that are not serving them. Well actually they ARE serving them on one level. But sometimes there are other options that will provide;
- Longer lasting energy
- Lift the brain-fog all through the day,
- Provide a body that feels fresh and alive, or
- A mood that doesn’t dip.
Each case of cravings is different, and it’s one of the key areas I look at to help people with their goals. There are so many factors to consider when you want to set up an effective crowding out plan. Here are my top two of the most common cravings;
Sugar (the body is looking for a quick energy bump):
- Get your brain boosting nutrients in early in the day. Coffee or tea does not constitute as nutrients for the brain or body. I’m not a fan of breakfast so first thing I will have a greens drink. I support the idea of intermittent fasting, however when done incorrectly can lead to intense sugar cravings.
- Fats, fats, fats!!! Did you know your brain uses up a large amount of calories to run. Hello brain fog. When you don’t get enough brain fuel into your body, your brain slows down to retain it’s energy. Fats is an excellent way to feed your body, brain and can lead to weight loss. Remember, there are good and BAD fats. Results speak for themselves here.
- Sleep more, or meditate. The number one reason for that 3pm sugar hit is because your brain has been running full tilt and needs an energy boost. If you’ve not slept enough the night before then you will start craving first thing in the morning (in the form of coffee no doubt). See my page on mind for more detail on why you need to rest your brain.
- Check your thyroid, adrenals, iron levels, among other things as these can lead to cravings
- Stress is a big contributor as it drains so much goodness from the body. Breath work is the most powerful option for calming body and mind (the exhale breath is the only way you can consciously turn off a stress response).
- Exercise is a tricky one when it comes to sugar cravings. Many people find upping their strenuous routine makes them crave sugar more. You need to balance this out by introducing more nutrients in. I have found this is where fats and Ketone supplements work well – see my body page.
Caffeine (the body is looking for an adrenaline boost):
- As with all of the above, getting some energy into the body early often mitigates that desire for an adrenaline shot, as will sleep, meditation and breath work.
- Water. I never thought this was very effective but I’ve seen it work too many times to discount it. Water flushes the body of toxins. Toxins drain the body leaving it heavy, resulting in a need for an adrenaline boost. Don’t wait to drink water when you’re craving, start early and have bits through the day so you’re ahead.
- Your gut flora may be out of balance, try some fermented food or drinks see my gut page. Results continue to show the link between the gut and a healthy brain. And since the brain is looking for support, coffee may be just the short term solution for it.
- Exercise increases your energy capacity and gives you the boost you need. So as long as it’s getting enough nutrients then you won’t find yourself craving a boost. See my body page. But please love what exercises you choose to do otherwise it introduces unnecessary stress hormones and risks petering out.
There are many other factors like nutrients, body conditioning…my advise is do some fact-finding about your craving, what nutrients are at the basis of your craving, could you get it elsewhere. Is there an activity that could replace what the food or object is giving you?
Two good examples are; if you’re smoking, you could do more breath work to replace the need to inhale. If you’re diving into the pantry at night because what you’re really craving is company, then try joining a community of like-minded people. Or find a health practitioner that will help you.
And above all else…always take it easy on yourself!! You and your body need time to adjust, putting the pressure on won’t serve you, have fun, play, experiment and enjoy.
I would love to hear your feedback on this hot topic. Have you found any of these working for you, or can you offer any other solutions? If you’re really stuck, feel free to post here and if I’m able, I will happily offer some guidance.
Here’s to feeling great from the inside out!
Meditating Mama Hannah – Online Holistic Health Counsellor