Symptoms — food cravings
What causes food cravings? Hint: it’s not lack of willpower!
Possible causes of food cravings: hormonal imbalance, weight loss resistance, adrenal
“I still find it hard to believe the difference the Personal Program has made in
my life. I have so much more energy, my cravings for sweets have completely disappeared,
and I have such a feeling of well-being.”
— Lara, Personal
Does it seem as if food cravings control your life? Cravings are not the same as
just feeling hungry. Instead, you feel driven to have a chocolate chip cookie every
afternoon, or you crave a glass of wine after work. Salty foods and late-night snacks
can get to be a habit too.
The majority of women have food cravings — especially for sugary, “simple” carbohydrates,
salty foods, and alcohol — and many of us feel powerless against them. But when
you “give in” to the desire to eat sugar or drink alcohol, you can be consumed by
guilt and remorse.
The word “cravings” is not code for lack of willpower. In many women, cravings are
signs of hormonal issues, which are often tied to inadequate nutrition. But cravings
can also be related to attempts to lose weight, especially if you have metabolic
or physiological imbalances that make it very difficult to drop excess pounds. Some
of these imbalances even involve the neurotransmitters in your brain. A third option
traces cravings to issues with adrenal function.
Cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When you are tired or sad,
you will have low blood sugar and/or low serotonin (a “feel-good” brain neurotransmitter).
Hormonal imbalance or weak digestion can lead to low serotonin. Low blood sugar
or low serotonin sends a signal to the brain that it needs a pick-me-up. It is this
signal — which you don’t consciously control — that causes a craving for sugar or
Sugar or simple carbohydrates help release a burst of serotonin, so you feel good
for a little while. But almost as quickly, you “crash” and return to your low-serotonin
state, and the cycle starts all over again. Ironically, the more sugar you eat,
the more you crave it because over-consumption of sugar can lead to insulin resistance.
It’s a downward spiral that dieting will make even worse.
Interestingly, the underlying mechanism behind cravings is the same pathway you
can use to curb them.
Which profile best describes your experience with cravings as a symptom?
- Cravings and hormonal imbalance. Cravings can be associated
with your menstrual cycle, especially when they occur at predictable intervals.
If you also experience depression, irritability, or mood swings — all common with
hormonal fluctuation — your cravings may be connected to hormonal imbalance. A lack
of healthy nutrition is frequently linked to hormonal imbalance and can cause cravings
because you’re not getting consistent quality “fuel” — lean protein, enough fiber,
complex carbohydrates, essential fats, and valuable micronutrients.
- Cravings and weight loss. When you’re trying to lose weight,
you may be nearly overcome with the urge to eat carbs and sweets. If you have tried
many different methods to lose weight, without success, your cravings may well be
wrapped into the overarching issue of weight loss resistance. Underlying imbalances
related to your metabolism can cause you to hold onto weight even while you are
actively trying to get rid of it, and cravings often accompany this process.
- Cravings and adrenal imbalance: If you have cravings and
are under stress, feel anxious much of the time, or you have insomnia, it can be
related to your adrenal function, specifically a type of imbalance that can lead
to exhaustion. You may notice that you need caffeine to wake up, and you crave sweets,
salty foods, and more caffeine during the day — then carbohydrates or alcohol at
night. You may also experience other adrenal imbalance symptoms, including deep
fatigue and unexplained weight gain.
How to curb your food cravings — naturally
What you can do today
Eat breakfast — and make it a healthy one with a source of protein. Add a serving
of fruit or a whole grain, and enjoy a big cup of herbal or green tea. You won’t
be hungry ‘til lunch.
Why it works
Starving yourself or skipping meals leads to overeating and sends a distress signal
to your brain that triggers cravings. Eating regular nutrient-rich meals and snacks,
especially breakfast, can help prevent this from happening.
If you blame and scold yourself for your food cravings, it will only make your mood
worse and increase your need for serotonin, which can introduce a pattern of emotional
eating. Carbohydrate cravings aren’t usually a behavioral problem but instead have
genuine, biological causes that are usually related to inadequate nutrition and
To break the vicious cycle and reduce your food cravings, give your body real support
— and lots of it. Time and again, we’ve seen women curb cravings by eating healthy
foods, adding pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, and getting regular,
moderate exercise, and adequate sleep.
Because health is your body’s natural state, metabolism will heal itself when it
receives the necessary nutritional support. If your metabolism has been damaged,
it can take time, but it will happen. Then you can still enjoy dessert occasionally
— even chocolate — but you won’t be controlled by strong cravings.
For food cravings— our Personal Program for Menopause
Food cravings are a common symptom of hormonal imbalance. The Personal Program helps
relieve symptoms and promotes natural hormonal balance with advanced nutritional
supplements, our exclusive endocrine support formula, and practical dietary and
lifestyle guidance. It is a convenient, at-home version of what we recommend to
our patients at the clinic.
NOTE: If you think that your food cravings are related to weight loss resistance,
take our Weight Loss Profile
If you think that your food cravings are related to adrenal imbalance, read more here.
If you have questions and want to talk to a real woman, call us toll-free at 1-800-798-7902.
We’re here to listen and help.
Last Modified Date: 12/19/2011