What Do My Cravings Mean?

March 13, 2021

We’re breaking down common nutrient deficiencies directly related to cravings. For example, trouble sleeping or muscle cramps (like Charlie horses) are symptoms of a magnesium deficiency which often manifests in cravings for chocolate. If you crave salt, it is a good chance you are dehydrated. Listen in for more cues your body is sending … and you may be missing entirely!

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LEAH: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Leah Kleinschrodt. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And this morning, Nikki Doering is with me here in studio. Nikki is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And we have a really interesting topic for you all today. The topic is “what do my cravings mean”? Did that perk your ears up a little bit? I wanted to start really briefly just to give you a definition of what cravings actually are. So this is taken from a blog post that we at Nutritional Weight and Wellness wrote last summer. And the definition for cravings, the Merriam-Webster definition for cravings, is “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing”. It also goes on to say that cravings are an irritation within the system. So then you take those two definitions, when you combine them, it means that cravings are in intense irritation. So does that ring true for anyone out there in the audience today? Would you…yeah. Would you describe those cravings as intense irritations, things that preoccupy your mind? You can’t get your thoughts off of them until you actually satisfy that craving. Some of our clients talk about chocolate cravings being one thing that they crave. So that's very common. I hear that all the time when I'm counseling clients.

NIKKI: I do too.

LEAH: Yeah, but Nikki, what do you crave specifically?

NIKKI: Oh, put me in the hot seat. Sugar. I'm definitely, you know, a candy/sugar person. I have to be really careful with any of that. And so that's another really common craving that we hear about a lot from our clients as well. And even some people, you know, on the opposite spectrum will crave something like red meat or, you know, “I love hamburgers so much.” I think we've heard that before too.

LEAH: I also hear a great number of people say, “I crave pasta. I crave bagels. I could never give up my bread. I crave bread every day.”

NIKKI: Yep. I've heard that one too. Yeah. And I can relate to that as well. In my, you know, before I ate, you know, in balance, I can definitely relate. Other people crave salty foods. And I know when I'm really tired, I crave caffeine. And so in the form I drink is tea. So I drink some black tea. But a lot of people will see that craving as coffee.

LEAH: Absolutely. So there can be numerous reasons for cravings. There can be many layers to cravings for people. A lot of people think about cravings as being a result of a particular, you know, psychological or emotional reason, you know, maybe it was tied back to their childhood or, or got into some kind of habit. But today when we're in studio, we want to focus on the physical or that biochemical reason for craving certain things.

In general, I think here at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, when we think about cravings, we see cravings as a sign that there is something out of balance in the body, something that's not quite right. And one example of an imbalance could be, you could be deficient in a certain nutrient, and that may be the cause of cravings. So we know when clients say they have trouble sleeping or they have muscle cramps, or they have charley horses, we know these are signs of a magnesium deficiency, which then also typically coincides with cravings for chocolate

NIKKI: It's almost magical when I'm working with someone and they start taking maybe 400 to 600 milligrams of that magnesium glycinate, and their muscle cramps go away. And they no longer crave chocolate. Or it's, the craving is gone. It's just more of, “Hey, I like chocolate,” rather than “I need chocolate.” I have to have it. And I think the important part, too, to kind of back up a little bit is to explain magnesium glycinate? Why do we save that form? Why don't we just say magnesium? Because glycinate, magnesium glycinate is chelated to that amino acid, so it helps it absorb better. So sometimes when you go to stores, you can get a different form and it's not as absorbable. So it doesn't work as well. So I've had people tell me, “Oh yeah, I've tried this. And my muscle cramps actually came back.” So we really liked that magnesium glycinate. So there's no doubt that magnesium is, can be a nutrient deficiency and can be directly related to those cravings.

LEAH: Yep, absolutely. And I think that's a great point, Nikki, is that there is a major difference just in that glycinate form with magnesium. And when, most of the time when people are buying supplements, they want that supplement to be able to work well for them, which is why we're just huge proponents of that magnesium glycinate. So here's another craving that actually came as a surprise to me. If you crave salt, it is a good chance first of all, that you may be dehydrated. So maybe you were working in your garden all day in the hot sun and you were so focused on trying to get those plants in the ground, or you were so focused on trying to get the mulch down or whatever those, those little gardening chores are, and you didn't hydrate properly. And then suddenly you start to crave that salt.

NIKKI: Yup. Yes. I've been there. I'm looking forward to that time. I'm sure a lot of listeners are; getting outside, getting into their garden. But we have a great story to share. One of our nutrition educators, Oralee Kirk, when, she was moving last summer. So, some of you might have taken classes with Oralee, so you're very familiar with her. She's got lots of energy and she's just amazing to see teach, but she was moving last summer. So she had lived in a house for 36 years. So you can imagine there's, she had stuff, you know, maybe not more than other people, but 36 years of stuff needed to get moved, needed to get packed up and taken out. So she was working and she was working up a sweat and she was getting to a point where like sweat was kind of rolling down her face and she started to lose her energy. And like I said, she has abundance of energy, so that's different for Oralee. And so she, you know, she was finding it even hard to move. Her energy was going down. And just like any other good nutrition educator, she was like, “Oh, I must be dehydrated. I need to go drink some more water.” So she started to drink water and all of a sudden she started getting cramps in her hands and her legs. And that's kind of alarming, you know, when you get cramps and you're not used to that. And she started to crave salt. So it's just amazing how our bodies are so intelligent that they can tell you to crave a food if you're low in a nutrient. So her body was really saying, “Go get some salty food or some salt to replenish your electrolytes and reverse that electrolyte imbalance.”

LEAH: Yeah; so interesting. When, like you said, when we can pay attention to our bodies and listen to the little messages that they're trying to send us. And so thinking about that, like if you find yourself getting that salt craving, like what, what's one thing you can do to get yourself out of that situation? Some people can naturally curb or satisfy that salty craving. One way you can do that, I know this might sound weird, but celery; celery naturally has a little bit of sodium in it, but it's an easy grab and go snack. You eat a couple of ribs of celery. You also get some hydration in there. Put some natural peanut butter on it. And hey, bonus if that natural peanut butter has a little bit of salt in it. But that can help to hydrate the body, but also start to restore that balance of electrolytes.

NIKKI: That’s really interesting, Leah, because I think even as a nutritionist or a dietitian, sometimes we don't think about, you know, salt in food or celery being something that you can replenish your electrolytes with.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah.

NIKKI: We kind of go towards more junk food. So celery versus chips. I mean, we obviously know there's healthier version there.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So let's circle back to Oralee for a second. You know, because Oralee is one of our nutrition educators. And Nikki, you mentioned she started to hydrate when she started to recognize some of those signs, but she knew she also needed to mix a couple of scoops of electrolyte powder into her water. And after drinking a couple of those blends, a couple of those mixes with the electrolytes in there, her energy started to come back and the cramps in her hands and legs started to disappear. And that was without, like you said, diving into the chips or the crackers or, or some of those more salty foods. And I think one thing to kind of highlight here too, is that when we think about hydrating the body, we always think about drink more water, drink more water, and then drink more water. But when we sweat, when we're losing water, we're also losing some of our key minerals and some of our nutrients like salt and potassium and magnesium. You know, when you taste sweat, it tastes salty because some of those nutrients are coming out with that water. So when we're hydrating and trying to put things back in and re-establish balance in that body, then we also want to maybe replenish with salt and potassium and magnesium, those very same things that we're losing. So we're going to talk just a little bit more about that hydration and electrolytes on the other side of break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Again, if you missed us in the beginning, my name is Leah Kleinschrodt and I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And I am co-hosting today's show with Nikki Doering, who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And we are discussing cravings and what your cravings actually mean. So I'm going to pose a question, a question to you listener before we hit break. Do you or a friend or a family member chew ice frequently? And we're going to share what's the root cause behind that when we come back from break. We'll be right back.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. So before break, we mentioned some people chew on ice. So why do people to on ice and ice cubes, or maybe prefer crushed ice or shaved ice, or even snow cones? Sometimes people chew on ice. When they do it can frequently be, you know, a sign of anemia or a low iron, or even some, a zinc deficiency. So if you're very fatigued, we suggest having your ferritin level checked to determine how adequate you are storing iron. If your results are lower than normal, you might have an iron deficiency. So Leah, you've had experience with this.

LEAH: I have, unfortunately. Yeah. And I think one key thing that you said there was lower than normal. Yeah, I, a couple of years ago, this was probably five years ago, now that I'm thinking about it. I remember I was really starting to struggle with my workouts. So you mentioned fatigue is kind of one big sign that you're getting low in iron or struggling with iron deficiency. And I started noticing that my workouts were getting really difficult. Like I was getting really tired into my workouts, five or 10 minutes into it, like I'm barely warming up and I'm already almost exhausted. I also started noticing like I was having more brain fog. Like it just felt like my mind was moving through quicksand. And anxiety is something I've always kind of struggled with throughout my life. But I was noticing a peak in anxiety around that time too. And I was just wondering what is going on. And one of our counselors here actually had suggested like, maybe you want to check out your iron and when you do that, make sure they test ferritin as well, because commonly what we see is that hemoglobin level, which is one of our basic indicators of iron is fine, but ferritin can be low. And low and behold I had my ferritin checked and I think the bottom of the range was a cutoff of 10 or so, and mine was at 14. So still within normal limits, but really on that low end of the ferritin range. And so I started, you know, I'd always been a meat eater, which is our best source of iron, but I decided to just supplement for a couple of weeks with some of our Reacted Iron. And even after two weeks, I started feeling so much better like that energy started to come back and my brain started to come back online. So I am always on the lookout with this with my female clients, especially, especially with the women who have heavy menstrual cycles. They're losing a lot of blood every month, or people with gut issues. And they're not absorbing that iron really well. Just that ferritin can be, like can be a little bugger for people. And that chewing ice is another symptom like you mentioned.

NIKKI: Yep. Yep. I always, whenever someone says they chew ice, I'm like, well, let's check your iron. I want to make sure. Yeah. That's a really great story. Thanks for sharing that.

LEAH: Absolutely.

NIKKI: I think people can relate to that because it's more common than people think. So before break, we were really talking about electrolytes and kind of replenishing electrolytes and how important that is to reduce salt cravings or the reasons for salt cravings. So think about this summer. Oh, it's coming you guys. If you're going to be sweating it up, you know, working out in the garden or, or exercising or just hanging out outside, I recommend that you keep a good electrolyte drink on hand. So I'm not talking about the ones that are bright colors with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in them. I'm, I'm actually thinking about things that we've used at clinically in our practice. There's a great brand called Synerplex Revive Electrolytes, and it's a powder and it's easy to use; very effective. And you just add it to your water bottle.

LEAH: Yeah. Easy peasy. Just add a scoop or two. And like you mentioned, Oralee did that and that really kind of helped bring her back online with her dehydration.


LEAH: And I, you know, I spend, try to spend a lot of time outside as well. Working part time I'm able to be outside most days with my son during the middle of the day when it's warm out. Sometimes I'll take my workouts outside even. My husband and I have a garden that we tend to. And so sometimes having those electrolytes on hand is really helpful. And even adding in some extra minerals through a multi-mineral complex into my daily routine can be helpful. And I do that with my, kind of like my athlete clients as well. Again, like they're outside, they're running, maybe they're training for that half marathon or marathon. And they are sweating a lot during those summer months.

And so personally I like our Reacted MultiMin product or Alpha Base, which is one of our multi, which is one of our multivitamins, but very rich in those chelated minerals. So again, that they're very well absorbed. Either one of those are great options for not only again, kind of helping to keep those electrolytes in balance, but some of our minerals as well. Because something as simple as being dehydrated can lead to those salt cravings or cravings for salty foods, which eventually for some people just derail all those healthy eating efforts.


LEAH: So, yeah, so it's not, it, it's not an emotional reason. It's not a character flaw that you're craving these things. It's just dehydration. It's just your biochemistry telling you something.

NIKKI: Yeah. It's kind of nice, nice when our body tells us that. We just have to listen.

LEAH: Absolutely.  

NIKKI: So we often think, you know, reasons for becoming dehydrated; we've mentioned it, you know, being out in hot weather, exercising, running a marathon, shingling a roof, throwing bales of hay on the farm. I mean, I think of my grandpa, you know, my uncles. And then, you know, even like, I think about like driving down the highway and you see the workers on road construction, you know, road construction season's probably upon us now. But you know, it's, you know, you think of, you know, hard, heavy work in the outside, but actually really they've, it's thought to be 75% of the U.S. population is actually dehydrated and does not get enough of their daily water. And a lot of times we interpret thirst for hunger. So we actually eat instead of drink. So one other reason too, you know, when we flip on to a different side, look at it at a different angle. I think of medications. You know, medications can actually dehydrate us as well. And even combinations of, of medications can dehydrate us. So there are several blood pressure type medications that are made up of diuretics. And in case you don't know what a diuretic is, it's a medication that causes more frequent urination to rid the body of excess fluids. So it works great, but you can see dehydration can start with those medications and then salt cravings can happen because of that dehydration.

LEAH: Yeah, it's almost like it's dehydrating you from the inside out then as opposed to those external factors coming in and, and, and making you sweat.

NIKKI: Yeah. And you had thought of a procedure that could cause dehydration.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. And because again, we get our clients coming in all the time talking about colonoscopies being one thing. Anybody who's been through that procedure before kind of knows the prep work that goes into something like that. So that's another way people can get dehydrated and then get a little imbalanced in their electrolytes. So of course we need to have those procedures. They do save lives. They are important, but then we want to take care of our bodies afterwards and kind of do a recovery process afterwards.

NIKKI: Like look for the telltale signs of dehydration, you know, cramps and maybe your hands, your legs, your feet. I know that I get that too. And I think, oh, what am I low in?

You know, when I get cramps. You may feel really fatigued. We've talked about that as well. So I really encourage you to pay attention to yourself and think, “Do I need more water? Do I need more electrolytes?”

LEAH: Yeah. So that is a great reminder for those of us or those of you who are listening today. Again, if you have plans to work outdoors, or if you are taking a diuretic medication, first and foremost, we do need to hydrate with that water and then think about the electrolytes in there as well. So most people, in general, I'm usually recommending eight to 10 glasses of water per day. So that's 64 to 80 ounces as a baseline for most people. But then you can individualize it a little bit more by taking your body weight in pounds, divide that by two. And there's the number of ounces that you want to aim for each day. So a 150 pound person needs 75 ounces of water. So that's about nine eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Someone who's 200 pounds: divide that by two need, that need about a hundred ounces of water a day. So that's at least 12, eight-ounce glasses of water a day.

NIKKI: That's a good tip. So oftentimes in our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes, our participants say, “I don't crave sugar. I crave salt.” So, you know, they like to eat chips or crackers. And I, you know, that's a really popular thing that I think we hear a lot. And so…

LEAH: Yeah, let's talk about that actually, really, because I know I want to dig into that more and let's talk about that on the other side of break. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And what is another sign in your body that may indicate you're deficient in key nutrients? So if you crave chocolate… we’ve talked a little bit about that now, or you experience muscle cramps or PMs cramps or, or that you may have insomnia, you may be deficient in the mineral, magnesium. And many of clients find that when they add 400 milligrams of Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime, their cravings for chocolate just disappear. And we'll be right back.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We regularly share the benefits of supplementing with Magnesium Glycinate. We did that right before. Why is magnesium such an important mineral for our clients? Well, a study from the Journal of American College of Nutrition estimates that at least 68% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. I think that's a big number. And I think we see it all the time clinically too. As dietitians and nutritionists, we understand that supplementing with magnesium can help with restless legs, cramps, and spasms and help with poor sleep; so help you sleep better. For the month of March, we, you may want to get in on the 15% off savings on Magnesium Glycinate and Mixed Magnesium. If you're questioning what form would be best for you, call us at (651) 699-4080. And we can help you figure out which one's best for you.

LEAH: And actually Nikki, I'm going to correct you on that. The phone number for the, for our offices is actually (651) 699-3438.

NIKKI: Okay.

LEAH: So that'll link you into our menu and you can talk to someone at a specific office or talk to someone about classes and counseling or order products. But I just wanted to clarify that phone number.

NIKKI: Thank you very much for catching that.

LEAH: You’re welcome. That's why we're a team here. Right?

NIKKI: Exactly. So before break, we were also talking kind of about our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes, which are going strong Zoom, you know, virtually people are loving those classes. And a lot of times, as teachers or as nutritionists, dietitians, we hear our clients talk about salt cravings. “I'm not really a big sugar craver, but I crave chips and crackers.” And actually a lot of times people don't realize, I didn't even realize this as a dietitian until someone pointed it out to me, a fellow dietitian pointed out to me like, oh, actually salt cravings when you're eating chips or crackers can actually really be carb cravings. And so, you know, it's because if you think about what the salt is on, if it's on a potato chip, it's on a potato. That's a carb, you know, corn chips or crackers, those made out of carbohydrates. So those foods break down in our bodies as sugar. So think about that for a minute. When you grab a few chips, you may be consuming several teaspoons of sugar. A lot of times people aren't, don't realize, or this may really surprise people, that just one potato chip is almost a gram of carbs. So eating four grams or four chips equals four grams of carbs, and that's about a teaspoon of sugar. So that's right. I just, you know, that teaspoon of sugar or glucose in our body causes those increase in blood sugars. So four chips equals one teaspoon of sugar; kind of a good visual.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. And then take that the next step further and say, all right, who among us can stop at just the four chips? Who can stop at eight chips? Who can stop at 12 chips? I mean, some of us, maybe after 12, some of us can reign it in a little bit, but others of us, you know, it might be the whole bag is gone before you know it. And I think it's worth repeating what you said there, Nikki is that, you know, sometimes these things, the salty foods that we crave is really a carb craving or a sugar craving in disguise. And I think Shelby, who's one of our other nutritionists, pointed this out to me as well. And she kind of gave a nice visual of, you know, if, if you really, if it was truly really a salt craving, you could say, slice up a cucumber and put salt on that slice of cucumber because it's crunchy. Right? So you get that crunch in there. And then that would satisfy your salt cravings. But usually when I'm talking to clients about that type of thing, they're not saying like, “Oh, I just really craved that cucumber with salt on it.” It's, it is more like you said, the potato chip. It always comes back to the crackers. And then we really start, I, I kind of point that out to the client and say, you know, could it be actually not really necessarily the salt, but it could be actually just because your blood sugar isn’t balanced that now you have a carb craving and that you have a sugar craving instead. So yeah; so for some people you can eat a few chips and stop, but for others of us, it's so easy just to keep going back for more, grab another handful, kind of drive by through the kitchen and grab another handful. And then pretty soon you've consumed four or five or six teaspoons of sugar. So again, then why do we crave for sugar? That's the question then that we want to answer for ourselves.

NIKKI: That is the, you know, a million dollars million.

LEAH: The billion dollar question even.

NIKKI: Yeah. So we crave sugar in response to that out of balance blood sugar level. As our blood sugar goes up, our cravings for sugar goes down. So, but when our blood sugar level is low, perhaps maybe because we skipped a meal or maybe it skipped a snack, our people or most people will start craving sugar to bring their blood sugars back up to a normal level. So blood sugar imbalances can happen for a number of reasons, such as, like I mentioned earlier, skipping a snack, maybe not even eating enough food. I have a lot of clients that eat really healthy, but out of balance; starvation, even those low calorie weight loss diets that we hear about still, you know, forever, you know, eating too many high carb processed foods. So eating too much sugar causes an increase and then a crash, not eating sufficient amounts of protein and not eating enough healthy fats can really, can really cause those out of balance blood sugars. I personally can really relate to that. I am one of those people that has to eat every three, three and a half hours. If I, you know, within 30 minutes, if I start, if I get hungry within 30 minutes, I can start making bad decisions. So I know I have to have that food ready, that snack planned, or it's, you know, all bets are off sometimes.

LEAH: Right. Yeah. So you find yourself in deep water really quickly, right? Yeah, absolutely, which is again, why we kind of counsel our clients too, to like, we need to have that plan. We want to be prepared. Maybe we want to eat on a schedule even like set your phone alarm every, like you said, three, maybe four hours for some people, even if it's just in the beginning so that you can feel that effect of, okay. What does it feel like to have stable blood sugars versus those times when you have unstable blood sugars? Many of us, we've learned through trial and error that sugar is a go-to source of energy. So, and that's, I mean, that's what our blood sugar does is it gives us energy, gives our brain in a fuel to work. It gives our muscles something to go off of. So sugar cravings are also common. They commonly creep up for people when they are tired, baseline tired, because many of our clients have been on high sugar, low fat diets in the past; they end up with these intense sugar cravings. And the first thing to get rid of those sugar cravings is to eat in balance as we always talk about, but that, what does that mean? That means we need protein in there; several ounces of protein, three to four ounces of protein every meal. And then we want to work some of that protein in at snacks also. We want our, the carbohydrates that we do consume to be those colorful carbohydrates, mainly from our vegetables, a little bit of fruit in there. And then we want to balance out with that natural, beneficial fat, because fat is one of those big anchors that kind of anchors our blood sugar in place. And when clients start eating the Weight and Wellness way, their sugar cravings really start to disappear and they have a calm, more focused energy. And that's one of my favorite things. Nikki, you mentioned Nutrition for Weight Loss before. You know, they, they meet with us as, as part of that program. And that's one of my favorite things to check in with them on is how are your cravings? And it is so, yeah, it's wonderful to hear people say like “My cravings are gone or like they're, you know, half of what they were before.” And they feel so much in so much more in control of their choices and their lifestyles and things like that. And so for many people, those sugar cravings or carb cravings tell them that they need to eat. And then specifically we want to make sure we have that protein and fat in there to balance out those carbs to keep blood sugars balanced.

NIKKI: And then for other clients, sugar cravings or carb cravings indicate an out of balance brain chemical. You know, our serotonin or dopamine. We have found that people that crave bread or pasta, that's really an indication of low serotonin. And even people that may be crave, and maybe this is people that are listening, you know, ice cream, other dairy products; that also can be a sign of low serotonin as well.

So I think of, you know, other another food source that can cause cravings: gluten, you know, we mention gluten quite a bit on our, on our show and, you know, in the book, Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, research has shown that the gluten proteins have that morphine like…

LEAH: Kind of effect on the brain.

NIKKI: It crosses our blood-brain barrier in a way, and it really can create kind of a euphoria, and you know, want and kind of lead to kind of addictive behaviors. And it can influence our behaviors and our moods. It's really interesting. So I always like to throw that in there too. So, you know, gluten, we may beat up on gluten a little bit, but there's a lot of reasons, a lot of science behind that.

LEAH: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, it's not, again, for some people, it's the gluten wreaks havoc on the digestive system, but we forget that the gut and the brain are so closely connected and that gluten can, like you said, have those morphine kind of effects and really can affect our brain chemistry. And so if a client craves candy or high sugary beverages, Nikki mentioned, you know, that can be an indication that we're deficient in serotonin, but we can also be deficient in another neurotransmitter called dopamine. And research has told us that a dopamine deficiency can often lead to addiction.

NIKKI: And so I'm sure many of you are wondering, you know, well, how do I build up my serotonin? You know, how can I control those sugar cravings and not be at risk for addiction? I think we all worry about that. I think we're both mothers. We worry about our kids, you know, starting a sugar craving, you know, very young. I believe, you know, as a parent and as a friend, a family member, we want to make sure that, it's not fun to be addicted to things, whether it's sugar or alcohol or other things, it's not, it's painful. So the question is how do we build those neurotransmitters, those happy brain chemicals, like we mentioned, serotonin and dopamine. One of our clients or our clients who follow the Weight and Wellness eating plan, so they're naturally building those happy brain chemicals, those neurotransmitters, by eating three to four ounces of protein at least three to four times every day. Those proteins are digested into amino acids, which make our, or which help make all of our neurotransmitters, including those, that serotonin and dopamine that we mentioned. When our neurotransmitter levels are sufficient for our stress level, you will naturally be free of cravings. Wow. That sounds wonderful; freedom. And so you can really see that food does matter.

LEAH: Yeah. And I think that's an ultimate way to say, like, you have to eat your way out of that situation as opposed to, you know, going, going some other routes.

NIKKI: Exactly.

LEAH: Yeah.

NIKKI: Exactly.

LEAH: And you know, I'm just going to kind of start us in our next topic here really quick, you know, wanting to talk a little bit more about sugar cravings, because so many people really do struggle with those sugar cravings. And so I just want to pose a couple of questions really quick for our listeners. Are you a person who wants more and more sugar after taking just one bite? And maybe that's that bite of a candy bar or maybe it's the gluten-free cookie, but does one bite lead to another, to another, to another and down the rabbit hole? And if so, we'll kind of talk about that, that extension on the other side of break. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And if you need ideas for lunches, join Marianne, who's our culinary nutrition educator, on Tuesday, April 13th or Thursday, April 15th for the cooking class, “Easy Weekday Lunches”. This fun cooking class will give you new ideas to keep your lunch healthy and interesting and give you just some new ideas. And we'll be right back.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Is it time to get serious about your eating plan? If you answered yes, I suggest reserving your spot for the Nutrition for Weight Loss series. They start on April 20th or the 29th, and you can learn how stress affects metabolism and how alcohol is not a health drink, because it actually slows weight loss. To sign up, call (651) 699-3438 or go online to weightandwellness.com.

LEAH: Yeah. And those are just a couple of things that we talk about in that class. I mean, every class there's a new topic to focus on. And so that's, that's at least 12 different topics. Usually there are a couple of sub topics thrown in there as well, but yes. And, and like you mentioned before, Nikki, even the virtual series, you know, we love to host these classes in person. It's just, it's not quite possible in this day and age yet. But the virtual classes, I know many of my clients say how much they love that to still have some of that interaction with their fellow students, but with the instructor as well. And so again, think about, you know, in April, if you have a little bit of free time or you want to learn a little bit more about nutrition or kind of help get a tailored eating plan for you, think about joining in on those classes.

NIKKI: Yes. My clients say the same thing about the virtual.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. And so before break, I was, I, we were continuing that conversation about sugar cravings and I posed a question to our listeners, you know, about, are you the type of person who can have a, you know, a couple of one bite or maybe couple of bites of a little treat or a couple of those chips? Or are you more of the person who one bite gets you down the rabbit hole very quickly, does one bite lead to another lead to another lead to another? For some people that is bread. For some people that is that candy bar. For some people it's a cookie, you know, for other people, it, maybe it's more of a, either a soda or one of the coffee “foo-foo” drink, types of things. So if that is more you, if you tend to get that one bite and it's a slippery slope from there, you know, you may be someone who has to treat sugar as if you have an addiction. So the kind of the analogy here is like, if, if someone has an addiction to alcohol, we say like, okay, absolutely no alcohol, like we can't, you can't have that in your environment. We don't want to expose you during those vulnerable times. And it's, it's kind of that, that no stop hard stop policy. For some people you need to treat, treat sugar the same way, that even just having it in the house or having it accessible or just that one bite can really be tricky for a lot of people and can undo all of those healthy eating efforts that go around that.

NIKKI: I call those Nikki no-no foods in my house

LEAH: Nikki no-no foods. I love that. That’s so cute. Yeah. And that, so that type of sugar craving is it's more along that line of addiction and it's addictive in nature. And realistically, for some people you just cannot even start with one bite. And I wanted to point out too, one of our recent blog articles that Teresa just wrote. I believe it was posted to our blog this past week, kind of, it delves a little into that saying of “everything in moderation” and why this ties into kind of those addiction types of, of tendencies. Why for some people moderation is just not possible. For some people it's, it's just not possible with certain foods. For some people, again, it's, you just have to set some of those boundaries. And I love the example that Teresa used in that blog article of, you know, I haven't heard anybody yet say, “Oh, I would just went to town on those green beans. And, and like, I just, I, and I felt guilty about it afterwards.” Usually people aren't saying that about our vegetables, but it is easy to get down that rabbit hole when you talk about chips or sweets or candies, or, or pastries and things like that. So if, if anyone's interested in some of that, that's, again, it was a blog article that Teresa wrote, was posted to our blog this past week about kind of delving into that saying of “everything in moderation”.

NIKKI: So, you know, when talking about that too, for some people reducing cravings for sweets is a matter of keeping sugar intake to a very minimum, and to make sure that you eat at least, you know, what we've been saying. Eat in balance at least four meals a day. You know, some people need some snacks in there as well. So I find meeting with the nutritionist can help with that because we can kind of listen to your day and help you figure out what kind of meal plan you really need.

LEAH: Absolutely.

NIKKI: I find that personally, my, my sugar cravings pop up when I'm tired. So fatigue plays a huge role in cravings as well. So for me to help control my cravings, I have to get enough sleep. And when I wake up, I have to eat a real food breakfast, a really healthy breakfast. Sometimes when we are helping clients overcome sugar cravings, we work on sleep first.

LEAH: Yeah, and kind of interesting when you think about going to a dietitian, right, to work on your sleep first.

NIKKI: Exactly. I think people, you know, but once you explain it, it, it makes sense, you know.

LEAH: Totally.

NIKKI: There are many reasons for sugar cravings and, you know, as dietitians and nutritionists, we just problem solve. That's why we have longer appointments. We can sit and listen and, and hear really, and, and problem solve and kind of, you know, do that detective work to kind of figure out what your body is telling us, the reason for your sugar cravings are.

LEAH: Absolutely. You know, last week, you know, one of our colleagues was mentioning a client that she was working with, and this particular client had, she was eating the Weight and Wellness way. She had reduced that her LDL cholesterol, kind of like that “bad cholesterol”. She had normalized her blood sugar numbers, and she had lost eight pounds in the prior three months. So she was doing great. She was kind of seeing those benefits and really feeling good. And then for some strange reasons, she had just had this overwhelming desire for fast food. And this had been something that she had kind of turned to previously. And so she kind of found herself again, that car just kind of drove itself right through the drive-through. And she went for the burger and the fries. And after eating, you know, really focusing on eating real food and eating organic food for, you know, those couple of weeks or couple of months prior, that once she got that fast food, like the fast food didn't even taste good anymore, but somewhere along the line, she had connected fast food with pleasure. And so in the past for this particular client, eating fast food, eating that junk food stimulated, kind of stimulated those areas in the brain, that reward system, and that pumped out some dopamine and serotonin for her. So then her brain said, “Oh, I like that. It feels good.” So she equated junk food with feeling good and feeling pleasurable. But sadly eating junk food with then like many chemicals, the additives, everything else that kind of comes along with that type of food, causes that reward system to become more stimulated, which then means your brain wants more. It goes back for more. And then you have, you know, those addiction types of cravings. And they tend to be a little stronger than your, than your addiction to organic vegetables and grass-fed meat. But again, once she kind of got that fast food and actually ate a couple of bites, she said she was very disappointed in the taste and decided she actually preferred her own cooking and actually preferred the way that she had been eating for the past three months. She just simply, and only did it not taste the way she remembered, but it just, she did not like how she felt afterwards too. So, I, you know, I hear that from my clients too, just about those foods that they used to eat a lot more, once you get on that real food bandwagon for a while, that actually the old stuff just doesn't have the same appeal that it did.

NIKKI: Yep. I hear that too. And I can actually really relate to her because I grew up on fast food. I, I, you know, it was a staple in our, in our diet and, you know, you, once you have that in there, you have that response. So you do tend to go to… Yeah, what you know, and what you kind of remember. But again, you can eat it and feel like crap. So that kind of, for lack of a better word, you, you know, so it's, it's yeah. It kind of helps realize how good and important that good healthy food is. So sometimes our food cravings are just habits too. You know, we hear that too, like it's kind of a regimen. I always have ice cream at night or, you know, things like that. So kind of breaking those habits as well. So I think about like maybe going to the movies and, you know, you always get popcorn and M & M's to satisfy those salt and sugar cravings and you just always do it because that's what you always do at the movies. Or maybe, you know, it's more of an emotional connection, like holiday cookies and baking with your mother or your family members. And you just have that strong food and emotion linked because there's that happy, you know, feeling.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. And I think our, our takeaway message here today is that there can be many layers to those cravings, but that there are solutions and that there are actually biochemical reasons as to why these cravings are happening. And that's where we at Nutritional Weight and Wellness can come in and specialize and help you problem solve. So, Nikki, it was great being on with you today. And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message that eating real food is life changing. So thank you for joining us today and have a great day.

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