I wanted to do a blog entry since I have been seeing more and more posts on the forums about food cravings, so I wanted to put it all in one place for you! There are all sorts of cravings of food that one can have, and this pertains to the world outside of the Lyme community as well. Do the cravings mean anything? Well, they certainly can! Some of the answers may surprise you! Some relate to the parts of the brain that can control feelings of having these cravings, and others can show a sign of a nutritional deficiency. If you have Lyme, assume it is a nutritional deficiency. Well, if you don’t, it is also best to assume it is a nutritional deficiency, because this can be fixed! I have listed some alternatives to choose from that can help get you the nutrients you need and it will help ward off those cravings.
There is research that says there is no correlation between food cravings and any sort of nutritional deficiencies. I call this hogwash since I know every single time I am craving something like chips, I am extremely low in sodium, or other things of that nature. Also, there are chocolate lovers all around the globe, ad over 80% of the world has some sort of magnesium deficiency. So there! Sometimes this can be the plain old truth I will admit, however. Several parts of your brain do have a role in cravings, and binging on certain foods.
– The hippocampus part of your brain works in several ways. It is found that the brain responds in terms of hunger for these foods by memory, not by reward.
-The part of your brain that senses pleasure, the hypothalamus, and blocking its opiate receptors can diminish ones desire to eat foods high in fat and sugar. The vagus nerve sends signals from your stomach to the hypothalamus, telling your brain that you are hungry, when sometimes you are in fact not.
-Then there is what I like to call, “eating your feelings”. Common’ , we have all done it at one point in time. That big tub of Ben & Jerry’s, the binge of Chinese take-out.. pizza, what have you. I like to eat my feelings in the form of pudding. So soothing and relaxing. 🙂 This is the part of the brain that controls your emotions and desires coming into play, your amygdala. When we are stressed, upset, or anxiety ridden, our food cravings can gravitate toward carbs, which boost serotonin levels, and now it is thought that sugar as well as foods high in sugar or fat have a similar effect.
What are some of the meanings for the food cravings that you may have? :
Meat – Iron deficiencies are probably the most obvious, but it can also mean that you are lacking in what is called Carnitine. It is not uncommon for people, specifically vegetarians to have this deficiency. Beans and legumes are good foods to eat when you are iron deficient. It is actually recommended for those with a carnitine deficiency, since it interferes with the process of using food for energy production, to eat small meals throughout the day. The fats not processing as they should give you that craving for a big juicy burger.
Dairy – Cheese lovers! I could probably eat cheese and nothing but cheese for the rest of my life. But that wouldn’t be healthy. And I would probably never poop again. LOL Anywho, if you are having a dairy craving, it could mean that you have a fatty acid deficiency. Also a sodium deficiency as cheese is high in salt. Raw walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed oil would be great to incorporate into your diet.
Chocolate – One of my biggest cravings, that generally happens at night. M&M’s, chocolate milk, boxed chocolates… it never ends! Let me have it! Well Lymies, there is a reason for this. Generally, when you are craving sweets you are low on MAGNESIUM! As we know, our magnesium levels tend to deplete with Lyme disease, which can cause an array of problems. What can one eat to ward off these chocolate cravings that are magnesium rich? Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruits are very beneficial. I know what you Lymies are thinking. Fruits have sugar! I can’t eat sugar! Yes they do, but they are a different type of sugar, and as long as you aren’t eating an overwhelming amount, they can be beneficial to still include in your diet. Here is a post about Magnesium I wrote back in the day for some more information about Magesium and Lyme disease : https://kimmiecakeskickslyme.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/magnesium-and-lyme-disease/
Sweets – Not necessarily chocolate, but the other sweets. By this I mean SUGAR! I immediately thought of one of my friends when I was reading this. She loves her Sour Patch Kids. LOL There are actually a lot of things that this could mean. Chromium, Carbon, Phosporus, Sulfur, and Tryptophan deficiencies are generally found with one that has a sweet tooth. Better options include : Brown rice, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, chicken, red meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and egg yolks. Blood sugar fluctuations can also be a reason for craving sugar. A better option is a piece of fruit rather than a sweet treat. Beans, legumes, and other high fiber foods can also help level blood sugar levels.
Salty – Chronic Stress. Um. Yep. Love me some ruffle potato chips. Okay, also with some French Onion dip. Or the entire bag of chips and the tub of dip. Either way, this whole stress thing means stress to your adrenal glands. It can also mean an all around mineral deficiency or dehydration (ironic, huh?). Sodium is also an obvious one if you are craving salty. What can you eat that isn’t overly unhealthy? I was actually recommended to eat a dill pickle a day by Dr J (hey, that rhymes) when my sodium levels were pretty low. I’m a fan of dill pickles, so that was okay in my book. Healthy options to try include: Try drinking water. low sodium soups, and or adding foods with garlic and herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley and mint. Kale chips are a better choice than those potato chips and they taste pretty good too! There are healthier salts like Celtic and Himalayan to use instead of plain table salt in your cooking.
Carbs – Many people crave carbs when they are upset. Just as I said, eating your feelings. You can eat carbs, but there are GOOD carbs. whole grains (if you don’t have gluten intolerances), beans, fruits, and vegetables all have healthy carbs that are not high-refined choices.
You want to know something interesting? 80% of those with cravings are proven to be dehydrated! So… you are probably nutrient deficient but water could be a big contributing factor to your cravings. Everyone should also be aware if they have any food sensitivities. Lymies should avoid processed sugars and gluten, but many intolerances tend to come up during treatment. Listed above are some great alternatives.
What can I do to find out if you have any of these nutrient deficiencies? The easiest and cheapest answer is to try to eat the alternatives and see if that helps. I know it is not as fun but your body will thank you. Bloodwork can easily tell if you if you are missing something. I should note that even if you are eating all the right things, sometimes with a lowered immune system, genetic deficiencies, and other reasons, sometimes it is not enough to get what you need by diet alone. There are many additional supplements that one can take to keep your body running the way it should.
General Kimmiecakes warning: I am not a doctor so do not take any supplements unless approved by a doctor. Some may interact with certain medications or need to be taken away from your medications.
Hope this helps everyone! Remember, one of the keys to good health is eating right! Before you grab that bag of chips or stuff your face in chocolates (yeah.. I know, I don’t practice what I preach), try to eat the healthier options because you just might be missing something. 😉
http://www.dailytransformations.com/food-cravings-here-is-what-your-body-really-wants/,http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/food-craving1.htm http://en.wikipedia.org, http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/food-cravings#., http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-facts-about-food-cravings,http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/limbicsystem.html, http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/kinser/Structure1.html photo fred: hercampus.com