You may "need" something, or want something at various times of the day or a particular time of month. But let’s face face it, we ALL have cravings.
Could it be that your body is telling you something?
Alex Jamieson joins Wellness for Life Radio to share why you should listen to your cravings and the health benefits that come with it. She also warns of the dangers of NOT listening to your body when it's craving something.
Stop trying to fight your cravings and start living a healthier, more fulfilled life.
RadioMD Presents:Wellness for Life Radio | Original Air Date: Friday, January 16, 2015
Host: Susanne Bennett, DC
Guest: Alexandra Jamieson CHHC, AADP
Dr. Susanne: Every single day patients come in to say: “Gosh, I’ve got these cravings. I’ve got to stop these cravings. What is going on? My body will just not stop.” These cravings that we have, when people reach out for various things, particularly sugar, as well as cookies and candies. Now, my next guest is going to answer this question: Why we do it? What is really going on? Alexandra Jamieson, co-star and co-creator of the Oscar nominated documentary Super Size Me and the author of the book Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, Reclaim Your Body. Alright, J. Alex, how are you?
Alexandra: I’m great, thanks for having me.
Dr. Susanne: Now, where do your cravings come from. What’s going on? What is going on with our body here?
Alexandra: Well, here’s the deal, Susanne. We fight our cravings and our bodies, so much. We are at war with them. I believe that your cravings are actually messages from your body, that you need balancing of some kind. I’ve discovered after years of working with thousands of women, online and in person, my coaching clients, that there are four root causes of all of our cravings. They are bacterial, nutritional, emotional, and physical. Every craving you have, whether it’s for an apple or chocolate or wine or ice-cream or potato chips, there is a message in that craving. You can begin to discover what your body’s really asking for, to heal in a totally new way that’s not a restricted diet or another calorie counting binge that you have to go on. It’s really about intuitive eating and finally listening to and trusting your body.
Dr. Susanne: Let’s go over that again. You went really quickly over that, but I want our listeners to really understand the four root causes. Can you give them again please?
Alexandra: Absolutely. They are: Bacterial, which I really go into in the book Women, Food, and Desire about how your gut is your second brain, it’s your emotional brain. But also, we are more bacterial than we are human. So getting your bacteria balanced in your body, in the right way, is really important. That’s number one. The second root cause of cravings is nutritional. Your body may be asking for certain nutrients that it’s missing. One of the top mineral deficiencies we’re experiencing these days is magnesium. Your body knows that chocolate is a good source of magnesium. I offer charts on nutritional based cravings. Let’s say you’re craving bread. Maybe you’re missing nitrogen in your diet. These are the foods that are high in nitrogen, like peas and beans. Nutritional cravings are the second root cause.
Alexandra: The third root cause is emotional cravings: Anything from anxiety, stress, sadness, and loneliness. These emotional disruptions in our lives can actually manifest in a physical need. You’ve felt a broken heart; you’ve felt anxiety in your gut before. Often we try to answer that anxiety or discomfort with food. I really dive in to the emotional root causes of cravings and offer some great ways to start healing those and accepting them and turning them around. The final root cause of cravings, which I think may be the most fun and one of the biggest opportunities for people, is physical. We are physical creatures. We were designed, we evolved, to learn best as we move and we need each other. We need connection. We need hugs. Many scientists believe that we need at least 6-8 hugs a day, of at least 6-10 seconds apiece, just to feel whole and good about ourselves. There are lots of studies that show if you remove a mammal baby from the rest of its litter, it will start to deplete. It won’t gain weight. It will suffer. Humans babies that don’t get enough touch, they won’t put on weight, they won’t thrive. We think it’s just babies, just our children that need physical attention and hugs and love, but we adults need it too, right? We need fun and play and to have a great time experiencing pleasure in our bodies. So I go into how to play more, why it’s important to have a good, intimate, healthy, sexy relationship in your life: Either with someone else, or with yourself. Those are the four root causes.
Dr. Susanne: What I like is that you’ve definitely separated each one. Each one is such valuable information and are things that do affect every part of our life. Right now there is so much information about the gut and the microflora; I even talk about the skin-flora. It’s all connected to your nervous system, your brain. When you talk about that second brain and how important it is to listen to it, how do you teach that in the book? What are you saying that you need to do to listen to your gut? How do you ask people to do that?
Alexandra: Well, the first step is: Before each meal, take 5 really deep breaths and tune in to your body. It’s not something that we’re taught so if you’re like “Wow I’m not good at feeling what my body is saying to me right now,” don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s not something that we’re taught in school and most of our parents don’t know this information either. You may be the first one in your family to think about this. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths and just notice where you feel any sensation in your body, especially before you sit down to eat. Often we hold our tension, anxiety, and our stress in our guts. Many people feel it in their chest, maybe you feel it in your forehead, but just start to tune into it and breathe into it and consciously relax your body. It is so important to do that before a meal because you can either be stressed or you can digest. You can’t do both at the same time. If you’re stressed out and you’re running through your lunch or dinner, you really need to clam that down. And this will allow your gut, you’re digestive system, to actually relax and do the work of digestion. That’s a key, key part of beginning to heal digestion. Just that breathing, calm awareness exercise before each meal is so important and it’s really one of the simplest ways to start tuning in to your body and your guts. That’s how you need to start balancing your bacteria. Now there’s a lot of nutritional information in the book as well about how to balance that, but you can start breathing into it right now.
Dr. Susanne: So basically, we’re talking about cravings. You’re saying let’s listen to our cravings as well. Listen to that gut. That gut is going to tell you, your second brain. Now, what are the dangers of not listening? What can happen if you don’t listen to your body clearly?
Alexandra: We’re seeing the results of that all around us now. I’ve worked with hundreds, thousands, of people who don’t listen to their bodies. When the body is anxious, we are so stressed out, we are so time-starved and we ignore the physical pain and the inflammation that arises. We ignore it and we try to mask it with more sugar, more caffeine, more comfort foods, more prescription and over the counter drugs, more shopping, and more reality TV. We are trying to cover up what our bodies are really telling us. “I need better sleep,” or “I need better food,” or “I need more fun or play or rest or stretching.” Our bodies are always telling us what they need, but we haven’t been taught to listen to it. I really encourage you to start listening to and honoring your food cravings and desires. That might actually be the getting the body and the life you want, not another deprivation style diet.
Dr. Susanne: Great book that you have, Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, Reclaim Your Body. This is a new book out there, everyone. It’s fantastic. Alex, thanks so much for sharing your great information about cravings and how to connect with your body. Anyone who needs to get more information about Alex can go ahead and go to www.RadioMD.com, on my show page. We’ll get all of that information out there. You can also go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble; wherever you go, you can get this book. Fantastic. Thank you so much Alex. This is Dr. Susanne on RadioMD, sharing with you the natural strategies for ultimate wellness. Until then, stay well.