Sugar, caffeine, chips, bread…. are you licking your lips yet? Why is it that some foods have the ability to turn us into monsters at the mere thought of being deprived of them? More importantly, what can be done to minimise the chances of succumbing to temptation and breaking all the hard work you’ve put into sticking to your adrenal fatigue wellness plan?
First of all it’s important to remember that in many cases, it’s not you, it’s your adrenals. It isn’t commonly known, but having adrenal fatigue actually predisposes you to cravings. This is partly down to hormones such as cortisol and ghrelin which are produced by the body whenever we’re stressed and tired.
Hormones And Your Appetite
Every time you find yourself in a fight or flight situation (which can pretty much be an ongoing thing for folks with adrenal exhaustion) your adrenal glands pump out cortisol. This dumps sugars into the blood stream in an attempt to provide you with the energy you need to deal with the situation. However, once the stressor has passed, your body sends out signals to increase appetite, in an attempt to replenish your sugar stores ready for the next stressful event. This is why we all like to comfort eat after watching a scary film or having a really bad day.
Most people don’t know that being tired also makes you crave sweet foods. This is your body’s way of telling you it needs more energy (which should ideally be provided by a good night’s sleep.) Tiredness makes you reach for snacks because the hunger hormone ghrelin is triggering your appetite in an attempt to make you eat something and provide enough calories to get you through the day.
What Do Your Cravings Mean?
Although it’s hormones that are ultimately responsible for your appetite, understanding why you crave certain foods can be a huge advantage when it comes to resisting temptation.
Many people with adrenal fatigue crave salty foods. There’s a very good reason for this.
The adrenal cortex produces aldosterone which helps the kidneys regulate water and the excretion of minerals. People who have adrenal fatigue often find they urinate more frequently. This means they’re literally flushing minerals like sodium and potassium down the pan. This is one of the reasons why sufferers of adrenal exhaustion often report cravings for salty foods like chips. It’s the body’s way of replacing vital stores of sodium in the blood. Taking a good liquid mineral supplement may help reduce cravings for salty foods, as well as reduce the need for frequent visits to the lavatory.
Sugar & Caffeine
Cravings for both sugar and caffeine are also very common among people with adrenal fatigue. Once again, this is the body’s way of telling you to stock up on energy for the inevitable stress that’s headed your way. Both of these substances provide temporary “fake energy” causing a spike in sugar levels which are always followed by a crash. Getting enough rest and eating foods that provide sustenance over longer periods of time may be helpful in curbing cravings for these unhealthy choices.
Cravings for foods which contain yeast can sometimes be an indication that the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is out of whack. This can happen due to the fact that people with adrenal exhaustion often have a low functioning immune system which allows bacteria such as candida albicans to get out of control in the gut. A course of suitable probiotics may actually be helpful not only in redressing the correct balance of gut flora, but could also by default, help to reduce your cravings for yeast containing foods.
How to avoid caving in to temptation
Here are some of my favourite tips for helping to kick cravings to the curb
- Try drinking a glass of water. You may find that your cravings subside because your body is actually thirsty and not hungry.
- Plan your meals in advance so you don’t find yourself reaching for unhealthy snacks just because you have nothing else to hand.
- Indulge in healthy substitutes. Trying new things can broaden your horizons! For example, how about a turmeric latte in place of your regular coffee, or a homemade protein snack in place of a candy bar?
- Pin an image or motivational message to your fridge. Sometimes taking a moment to stop and think is all it takes to walk away from temptation.
- If you simply must treat yourself, portion out your serving. Allow yourself a small indulgence but put the rest away.
For a detailed plan to beat your adrenal fatigue (including lots of tips on how to build an adrenal-supportive diet), check out our Adrenal Fatigue Solution plan.