Food cravings or any craving for those matters that are so strong they consume your thoughts and make you physically lust after them, indicates an addictive tendency; some are more prone to developing addictions like drugs, alcohol and sex, etc. If one has strong cravings for certain foods, there may be a metabolic imbalance, some cravings can be psycho symptomatic such as pregnancy cravings (although pregnant women are at risk for developing nutrient deficiencies so this could lead to true strong cravings).
This imbalance that is causing cravings could indicate a deficiency, i.e. craving red meat could be an indication of an iron deficiency. As far as addiction goes, if one craves foods that stimulate the opiate receptors, such as simple sugars (candy, pastries, chocolate), processed fats (chips, fried foods, etc.) dairy (glasses of milk or ice cream), starchy foods containing gluten (breads, pasta etc.), this could indicate an imbalance or “addiction like” mentality, especially if the true hunger is not present. Food in several cases is a “transfer addiction” to those going through addiction recovery, in most cases resulting in weight gain, obesity related diseases, like diabetes type 2 and depression. Certain foods (junk foods, rich in syrups, trans fatty acids, etc.) will resemble similar dopamine responses you feel when getting high off of illegal drugs and alcohol. This is why excessive junk food consumption is common in those going through recovery.
Inflammation can also be a factor in food cravings; a low-grade inflammation can disrupt insulin levels and metabolism. Adopt these helpful lifestyle habits to ensure that the body is functioning optimally.
- Develop a meal and snack schedule and adhere to the routine daily. This will reduce cravings while keeping the body in a state of balance.
- Aim to eat 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Preferably a ratio of one fruit to three vegetables. This keeps fiber intake at optimal levels, and provides vitamins and minerals in their most raw form.
- Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of stable alkaline water daily. This will promote optimal organ function, electrolyte balance, and reduce cravings.
- Include a high quality source of protein, a heart healthy fat and fibrous carbohydrate at each meal. This is the most absorbable form of amino acids, which have been shown to be critical in addiction and recovery.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery. A high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, B-complex, vitamin D, omega 3 fish oil, and a probiotic are all recommended to take daily with meals for optimal absorption. More specific supplements and herbs can be recommended individually based on assessment and laboratory values.
- Get regular exercise, at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Reduce caffeine and stop smoking.
- Seek help from counselors, therapist and/or support groups on a regular basis.
Also, striving to keep the body out of an acidic state will help reduce food cravings that stimulate the opiate receptors. The typical American diet is packed with sugar and processed foods, which throws off your body’s ability to optimize your pH. Although your body naturally has it’s own mechanisms to buffer your pH, many of us are likely living in a state of low-grade acidosis from eating too many low-quality processed, depleted foods. Eating a diet rich in low nutrient processed foods puts the body in a state of mild, moderate or even severe inflammation. Inflammation can affect our body’s ability to regulate insulin levels resulting in increased cravings for sugary foods. In recovery, sugary food cravings can often be misread as a craving for the once abused substance due to similar hormonal responses of serotonin and opiate receptors. Optimizing our pH through a balanced and pure nutrition and hydration plan will reduce inflammation and help avoid cravings, hormonal imbalances and chances for relapses. Consuming at least 9-11 servings of fruits and vegetables, heart healthy fats, and high quality moderate sized protein servings along with hydration strategies in the form of high quality stable alkaline water resources will have a small but statistically significant effect on helping patients withdrawal from addiction while reducing symptoms.
In conclusion, if one has cravings for foods that stimulate the opiate receptors, this can often indicate the early stages of addiction or at least the addiction like mentality to prescription drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol. At this time, we cannot be more specific without very specific neurological and metabolic testing to the individual patient. The only natural solution at this time would be to use the Named Program menus to not stimulate the opiate receptors that cause the cravings. Also, regular counseling, exercise, good nutrition, meditation and amino acid therapy would all be helpful but the menus that do not stimulate the opiate receptors will be the key.