Hey everyone, Mikki here, another mini Mikkipedia on a Monday. And today I want to talk to you about cravings and what we can do to help overcome them. I wanna start by just briefly talking about some of the reasons why we might crave certain foods, some of the particular foods that we crave and the underlying sort of physiology behind it, if you like. And then also what are some things we can do to help offset cravings?

And what I will kick off with is a reminder that we crave the foods that we eat. And this over and above anything else really speaks to the idea that your body adjusts and adapts to the type of inputs that you provided. So for example, we've just had Easter, well, a couple of weeks ago, and if you generally eat

fairly well or have been following sort of a fat loss plan, for example. And then you were eating, you know, a few hot cross buns. You had some chocolate Easter eggs. And then you found, despite the fact that you were motivated and you had the desire to get back to eating how you normally would eat post Easter, you could have found that you struggled a little bit in those first couple of days to

realign your dietary decisions with your health goal because of the increased sugar, increased fat, increased starch that you had across that weekend. And one of the problems, I guess, is that you can influence your blood sugar regulation even across just a couple of days of increased carbohydrate intake and increased sugar intake.

So not only do you have this sort of shift in your blood sugar levels, which makes it more difficult to sort of regulate and stabilize. And I would say this is more so for people who might already have issues with blood sugar regulation, potentially not with others, but that can definitely impact on your ability to get back to eating in a way that aligns with your health goals post having those types of foods. In addition though,

foods that are higher in sugar, some higher in fat, they do change that sort of chemical response in the body and you do or you can get a release of a hormone dopamine in the brain which leads to sort of feelings of pleasure and reinforces the desire for certain foods as well. So it's almost this two-pronged response going on that you then have to mitigate and

Our taste buds change really quickly. So even, and you'll know this if you've ever gone through any kind of dietary change where you've shifted your patterns of eating to sort of remove things like bread and large amounts of junk food and things like that and bring in more vegetables and fruit. Initially, it might taste a little bit bland or a little bit boring, but over time you adapt to that change in flavor profile and you...

come to love it. And part of it is that taste bud change also. So I think there's a little bit of that going on too. But I have many clients and many people who are doing things like Mondays Matter, who really struggled to sort of come back to the diet plan after having some of these sort of deviations. And I don't think it means that you can never have a deviation on your diet at all. I just think it means he needs to be some increased awareness as to where this is coming from.

and then how to mitigate that. So just, you know, cravings can be caused by a variety of factors. And the first one, of course, is just what I talked about, is that your most recent dietary experiences will change the types of foods that you do or don't crave. But there are other things as well, like you may have heard that we crave chocolate because we're low in magnesium. And I see this all of the time on different social media outlets or digital platforms.

when there's a health and wellbeing article written and it's got a woman doing yoga on the front and it talks about how you need chocolate because you're probably lacking in magnesium. There is some truth to the idea that if your body is lacking certain nutrients, you might crave foods that are rich in those nutrients. However, that's not really the case with chocolate. So I would say that when

I often have people say something like, I just really craved a steak. And that might well be due to that their body needs a little bit more iron or zinc or is craving a high protein hit. I think that's certainly something that would stand up in terms of science, if you like. But actually, one of the most well-known physiological responses to a nutrient deficiency is something called PECA.

Pika is a condition in which a person has an intense and persistent craving to eat non-food items that don't have any nutritional value, such as ice, dirt, chalk, paper, or clay. It's thought that pika cravings are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and cultural factors, interestingly.

There is some research to suggest that PECA may be related to nutrient deficiencies such as iron or zinc, which leads to this increased desire to eat non-food items. It's not a very common occurrence as you can imagine, but it can crop up in certain conditions, for example, pregnancy. However, it has also been found to be influenced by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or a history of trauma or abuse.

Cultural and environmental factors can also play a role in PECA cravings, particularly in communities where eating non-food items is seen as a cultural tradition or a way of coping with certain conditions. Now I probably don't need to tell you that this is dangerous. Eating non-food items can lead to serious health problems such as gastrointestinal blockages, poisoning or infections. So it's certainly not something to just...

be dismissive of or just, oh, you just need some iron, whatever. But this is your body's extreme response to a nutrient deficiency. And that's a far more likely occurrence than, for example, the fact that you need magnesium. So your body craves chocolate, but nutrient deficiencies certainly are one reason why you may crave a certain food. Another very obvious time or reason for a craving is of course, hormone changes.

It's very common that fluctuations in hormones, particularly for women in their menstrual cycle, whereby they go into their luteal phase where you get a higher amount of both estrogen and progesterone, this can lead to food cravings, much the way that pregnancy can lead to food cravings also. And

And what I would also say is that potentially changes in blood sugar regulation at this time may also then make cravings even worse. So when you've got higher amounts of progesterone and estrogen present, you are slightly more insulin resistant, or conversely, a better way to put it actually, is that you are less able to access your carbohydrate stores. So your body is unable to get the glucose that it might need.

in order to just feel normal everyday activity or the brain or things like that. So vague isn't it when I say things like that, but you get the drift. So therefore blood sugar regulation is a little bit harder at this time and those swings in blood sugar can also make you go into slight hypoglycemia or more dramatic hypoglycemia that then means that you're going to crave foods that bring you back up to within that sort of normal range.

And often people say that they crave sweet foods or toast and jam, chocolate, etc. at this time. Now, I do think that there is a level of emotional state that plays into this, which is the next reason why people would crave certain foods. And you know, if you do have mood swings in and around your cycle, we often crave food that will help soothe that for us as a coping mechanism.

stress, boredom, these can all trigger cravings for certain foods to help enhance our mood. But also, you know, people also can get cravings when they're super happy as well. And it's this almost association with being happy and being in a certain environment or associating that with a particular food or a time in your life too. So these are all reasons why we might crave certain foods.

and certainly cultural and environmental factors. So our cravings can be influenced by our upbringing, cultural background, and the availability of certain foods in our environment. And sometimes we just really want a roast meal on a Sunday because that's what we had as we were growing up, or it reminds you of winter, so you have some sort of sense of nostalgia going on with that. Sometimes I crave

things like potato chips, in part because when I, and I think back, and this is more of a nostalgic thing actually, but certain foods I crave because it reminds me of a certain time in my life. Like for example, when I was growing up, that most iconic TV show, Chips, was on TV on a Tuesday night. And it was such a thrill for me as a young person to eat chips and watch chips at the same time. I know it was, it was the simple things, right?

Another thing which I remember quite fondly related to food and TV, quite a theme. I mean, there was nothing else to do really when you were young, was it? You'd just go outside and play. Or once you got into your teenage years, you'd watch shows like, you know, 90210. And I remember distinctly that it was a thing that we would do would be to get a, an ice cream Moro because they were very new at the time and a diet Coke.

That's another thing which I'm thinking about the way that those things taste, and it does bring the sense of nostalgia, but also a sense of comfort as well, like being a young person, not really responsible for myself and having my parents there looking after me. It's quite nice. Yeah, so I could go on actually, and I was just about to, but I will not. But I will just reiterate that cultural and environmental factors can certainly influence cravings. And then of course,

Whilst you will not find this in any diagnostic statistical manual, addictive properties of foods can lead us to crave them. So there are foods that do trigger a release of dopamine in the brain and it can lead to feelings of pleasure and reinforce the desire for those foods. And I did mention that at the start that we crave the foods that we've just eaten, but the other prong of that is that they do provide that sort of dopamine hit.

Interestingly on those addictive properties, I see this all the time with clients, they really struggle to give up dairy. And in fact, so many people are sensitive to dairy, but they constantly ignore it because it is such a traumatic experience to break up with dairy. And in fact, this is one of the reasons why my Monday's matter plan is dairy free initially, because it is so challenging for people to do it that

I want them to experience what life is like without dairy. So then they have this intel as to how they respond to it. And if at the end of eight weeks they have no negative, they didn't notice any potential improvement in things like acne, other skin irritation, mood, tender breasts, things like that, hey, no worries on the dairy. It's probably not an issue for you.

heavy periods, mood swings, tender breasts, or skin irritation, people with skin irritations, or sinus issues, asthma, they do really well on no dairy. But dairy does have opioids in them. And part of the dairy thing I think is a taste and a texture can make people sort of struggle to give it up because it's quite, if I say unique, I mean, you know, yogurt just has a particular texture

mean cheese, hello. But dairy also contains small amounts of naturally occurring opioids called casomorphins. Casomorphins are released during the digestion of dairy proteins and they can bind to opioid receptors in the brain. This triggers a release of dopamine which can give us a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Now the same casomorphins though, in a certain

And this is the thing responsible for increasing the inflammatory response to dairy. Now, that's not the case with every person, but if you do have a sensitivity to dairy due to this problem, then it is the casein protein, which is one of the reasons why when I talk about dairy-free, it's casein dairy is the thing. So yes, that particular addictive nature of dairy can make it difficult for some people to give them up.

And people can in fact get some withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop, such as those cravings, headaches and mood changes. But as I said, the texture of dairy products, the habitual nature of us having them, cultural and social factors are other reasons why people struggle to give up dairy. So that is definitely one food that can trigger the, that people really struggle with, but we can have cravings for.

If we get back to chocolate though, the idea that chocolate cravings are related to a magnesium deficiency is a popular myth that has been well debunked by science. While it's true that chocolate does contain magnesium, you have to eat an entire lint block to get 200mg of magnesium, which is a ton of sugar and calories for very little magnesium. So

It is definitely not the magnesium that is making you crave the chocolate. It will be texture, it will be the sugar fat combo and the flavor and the mouthfeel, which is texture really isn't it, that we all sort of crave, not all of us, some of us don't crave any chocolate, but that people crave and not the magnesium itself. And hey, if you think you've got a magnesium deficiency, get a magnesium supplement. How easy is that? My favorite.

sounds like an ad and it really isn't but it's the mega magnesium from Chemist Warehouse actually and it's the powder and I always say get it from the Chemist Warehouse because it tends to be cheaper so I mean hey you might find it cheaper elsewhere but it's also got taurine in it which is an amino acid which is good for the brain and B6 and both of these things can actually help enhance our

and GABA is the neurotransmitter that helps keep us calm. So if any sort of your cravings are stemming from anxiety or stress, that kind of thing, having this mecan magnesium product from Ethical Nutrients could be a game changer for you. And you know what, as I say that, I'm thinking to myself, ah man, I should have got Ethical Nutrients and there's a sponsor for this. But anyway, next time, if you know anyone that works there, do that. So.

The other food that people crave is bread. And in fact, it does make me laugh when people are like, I just love my bread. Like it's some unique part of them as an individual. And it's not something that is, that they basically share with, you know, 90% of the Western population. Everyone craves bread. I crave bread or toast. And you know, there are very, you know, there might well be physiological, psychological, and cultural reasons for this to be the case.

someone has posited that bread is a staple food in many cultures and has been for thousands of years. So there might be some sort of genetic, cultural, and psychological attachment to bread as a comforting and familiar food. Bread is a source of carbohydrates and when your blood sugar is low, we crave carbohydrates to bring blood sugar back up to within normal ranges. And so if you are someone that experiences more fluctuations in your blood sugar,

then you are going to crave certain foods such as bread to help bring your levels back up. This is a complete BS in my mind, but someone has also suggested that bread is a source of fiber. When we crave bread, that's our body telling us we need fiber. I mean, sorry, that is complete BS, isn't it? So I don't, I certainly wouldn't subscribe to that. But what I would say is that bread, that the smell of fresh bread,

almost always makes you hungry the way that toast almost always makes you hungry. You can finish a meal, smell toast, and then you want to eat toast. And this might be related to the Malliard reaction actually. So when we toast bread, there's a chemical reaction, the Malliard reaction, which produces a variety of aroma and flavor compounds, including acetaldehyde, ferfarol, and maltol.

which gives toast its distinctive smell and taste. Bloody delicious if you ask me. These compounds can stimulate the appetite and trigger cravings for toast, particularly if we are hungry or have not eaten in a while. I would say that is true regardless of when you smell. And the smell of toast does trigger memories and associations with positive experiences, such as breakfast with family or friends. And I do agree with this actually. If we go back to what I was saying,

about my own childhood experiences and that sort of comfort blanket, if you like, that you get with certain foods and certain situations. I mean, I think most of us all grew up eating toast and we will have part of that sort of comfort eating comes from eating foods of our childhood. And so when we crave some sort of more emotional.

there's something emotional about our craving like we might be feeling a bit more vulnerable or just going through a much more psychologically difficult or emotional time, then this is going to be one of the reason one of the sort of foods that we might sort of turn to. And also the this is the same with chocolate actually is that the breakdown of carbohydrate to glucose will boost serotonin so that feel good feeling and will also boost a release of dopamine too which

as I said before, is associated with pleasure and reward. So that's, you know, it's worth noting that. And I mean, salt is another very obvious craving. And I would say that this is a true craving. And one possible reason is, of course, that your body does need sodium, regardless of what you hear about the sort of health, negative health implications of high salt. And I think I need to do a mini-Micipedia on that topic alone.

but sodium is an essential mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, blood pressure, nerve and muscle function, the production of ATP. If we do not consume enough sodium in the diet, or if we have a low carb diet, so we cannot store sodium, our body might signal us to eat more salt to meet our sodium needs. So that is one of the reasons. So you know, oftentimes though, we don't necessarily think about it as a craving for salt, or we might.

but it's like we want crunchy, like potato chips and pretzels that often are salty as well. And these types of foods also help with that release of dopamine because of their carbohydrate content. So these are the reasons why we crave some foods and certain foods, but importantly, what can we do about our cravings? And I think this is something which is worth worth talking about as well. So firstly, be aware and

not only about the food that you're craving, but the reason you're craving it. And if you just sort of don't put time into understanding some of the reasons why you eat and then putting these self-monitoring tactics in place, then you will never sort of get to the bottom of why you can't follow a diet that aligns with your health goals.

if this is something which is concerning to you. And if you're constantly giving into cravings and going, I have no idea why I've got no control around food. Understanding how your mood affects your food and subsequently how that food then affects the other things that you eat, that's gonna go a long way to helping you sort of dial in a dietary approach that you are happy with. In addition to that though, actually tracking, keeping a food diary, it doesn't need to be on an app. You don't have to quantify this,

Just the food that you eat and the way that you feel, having even a sense of this can go a long way to help you pick up certain patterns around the foods that you eat in your particular mood, potentially the phase of your menstrual cycle, or what happens if you're around certain people and things like that. That does sound like it's getting into the weeds a little bit with that emotional, psychological sort of piece, but food is very rarely about food, isn't it?

And cravings is very rarely about the food itself. So definitely worth being mindful of that.

Putting a pause in between you and the food that you crave gives you that opportunity to reflect if you really want it or is this just something out of an emotional sort of boredom, stress, a distraction from a task, something like that. So taking some deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, filling your diaphragm fully. We always breathe through our diaphragm, but you wanna do it fully. And then exhaling through your mouth

Switching that sympathetic nervous system drive that might be driving your requirement for a certain food into a parasympathetic state, that can help diminish cravings as well because you've no longer got that stress response present and you've also given yourself a time to make a better decision. You still want the food, fine, but you don't want to do it in this unthinking way.

So create that space between you and getting that food and practice that breathing technique which allows you to engage much more your parasympathetic nervous system. Brush your teeth. Nothing tastes good after a good old brush of your teeth, particularly when you've got a super minty, super fresh toothpaste. I like that red seal toothpaste. I love the smokers one but I feel a little bit like there's a stigma associated with buying it. Clearly I'm not a smoker.

So I don't often get it. The baking soda one is also good. But someone did tell me this is a bit of a tangent Someone did mention that the red cell toothpaste was actually a little bit too harsh on enamel If a dentist is listening to this, can they sort of can you fact-check that for me? Because I would really like to know anyway, and So this is one that I wouldn't use because I've been addicted to gum and I think actually chewing gum can sort of

trigger your system into thinking food's going to come in and for people with sensitive guts this is not a good idea but for others who do not have that concern, chew gum and note if this is going to change your craving for a particular food. Drinking water, sometimes we crave and we think that we're hungry but in fact we're thirsty. Drink water, fill up on what your body wants there and then see whether that is going to help diminish that craving.

distracting yourself. So instead of just sort of like often we use food as a distraction from a certain task, you need to find another coping mechanism actually. So finding something else be it journaling, be it cleaning, be it walking around the block, some sort of distraction method so you're not then beholden to food as the only way that you cope with something. In addition to that and I mentioned it before,

creating that awareness around why you're craving food. And writing in a journal can really help, and I know that's not gonna suit everyone, but writing is such a powerful tool to help you understand better why you crave, when you crave, and then you can come up with strategies to help offset that. It goes without saying that if you're not balancing out your meals with good fiber and good protein, then it's harder to regulate your blood sugar.

and subsequently that's going to impact on your food decisions. Filling up your plates with plenty of protein, minimum of 30 grams, particularly in the breakfast meal and the dinner meal, but also good fiber as well, because that helps buffer the blood sugar response to a meal and will change the foods that you crave. Having other foods available and on hand to eat when you're truly hungry is going to help offset that hunger,

craving for something of our childhood and instead you're filling up on food that you really like, that you really need, I'm sorry. So things like hard boiling eggs, eggs, roasting chicken drumsticks or a whole chicken, you know cooking sausages and popping them in the fridge, like have these protein based foods available and vegetables cut up as well to help fill you up on foods you need so you're less likely to then give into a craving.

and salt to them as well. Be mindful of sleep. Sleep marks your blood sugar, it marks your insulin response, and it changes that brain feedback reward system. So when you eat foods that give you pleasure, you're going to get an enhanced response from that feedback loop. So if you are constantly under-sleep, initially at least, you are going to crave certain foods.

Hold us is that over time this does diminish. But if you even, you know, want a couple of nights sort of of disrupted sleep each week within your normal sleep routine is going to make you crave certain foods on that subsequent day. So do be mindful of that. Remove from your environment the foods that you crave. And I know this is not possible for everyone because we live in shared households, you know, where you can't.

always be selfish all of the time, but even removing from your eye line, putting all the sort of treat foods or whatever in an opaque container, popping them up in a high cupboard so it takes some sort of effort to get there. These are little barriers that can prevent you from going and grabbing that food. Ideally, of course, though, they wouldn't be in the house in the first instance. And I mean, obviously, I'm going to say.

ensure that you do not have any deficiencies that might be contributing to your food cravings. So things like iron, get that checked, zinc, get that checked. Get checked also things like thyroid, vitamin D, B12. These don't necessarily, we don't have a craving for certain foods that contribute to our nutrient sufficiency here. However, these things do impact on your energy and your metabolism and it makes it

So we will be less likely to grab something to prop up our energy, which then impacts on the types of foods that we eat regularly, which then impacts on the foods that we crave regularly. So ensuring good blood sugar regulation in addition to nutrient sufficiency is also going to be important there. And as I sort of started this podcast, I'll end on the same note, we crave what we eat. So if you are struggling with a chocolate craving.

or a bread craving, that kind of thing, get rid of it from your diet. Do the cold turkey, go 10 days without it, it is gonna make a big difference. The one thing I have not mentioned actually just before I go, the same goes with peanut butter, man. I honestly, the number of people who are addicted to that peanut butter is certainly something that warrants an own special mention as well. So that's definitely one to go cold turkey on as well.

It's not forever, you're just getting rid of the habit of having a spoon or three every time you go past the pantry. Anyway, alright guys, so that is cravings, that is some tips to help address the cravings. If you've got a topic that you want me to address on a mini micropedia, please let me know. Otherwise, have a fab week and we'll catch up next week. See you later.