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Creating Good Habits and Limiting Craving's Power (Part II)

**Disclaimer: I realize that unfortunately there are people in our community who may not have the resources available to them to have access to proper nutritious and helpful foods. There are also people who, although they have the financial capacity to acquire nutritious foods, may see food in general as a stressor or a trigger for unpleasant reactions or thoughts.

Please see this series as simply a guide to be observed as just that. You are not a failure if you cannot or do not make these suggestions a part of your life.

Simply continue to do the best that you can manage every day. That is enough.

Please Note: During this article, and in keeping with the nutrition-themed series, I will only be addressing some suggestions to help with food and exercise based cravings and habits. If there are some more serious substance abuse issues you or a loved one in the Greater Victoria region may be struggling with please check out Recovery Works to see if there may be a suitable program to help.

Welcome back to part two of this brief teaching on creating good habits and learning how to limit the power of our cravings. Last week I discussed how dehydration and stress can lead to eating more than we normally would or should, and possibly reaching for the foods that we shouldn't. If you missed the first post, you can see it here.

This week I will talk about how boredom, hormones, and sufficient vitamin/mineral intake can also be factors in what and how we eat.

  • Am I bored or overtired? Am I eating absentmindedly?

Whether you are bored at home, doing a task you find monotonous at work, or watching a T.V. show, we have all done our share of snacking just to having something to do. This is one of the more "dangerous" ways of snacking as when our minds are not fully aware of our eating, we can often overeat before we know it which can in turn cause you to want more the next time you have a meal or a snack. Often with our actions, like begets like. This means that if you have the salty, sugary, fatty snack, you are more likely to want the same even more so. The key is breaking the cycle. Maybe the way you come down after a hectic day at work is watching an hour or so of T.V. with some chips or chocolate. You could start by portioning out only half the amount you would normally eat and filling in the rest with some crunchy veggies or sweet fruits. Starting to become aware of your habits is the first step in all of these towards healthier habits that promote self-care.

  • For those of us with ovaries; Am I nearing or on my period? Are hormones taking over?

During that ever so lovely "time of the month" those of us with ovaries can experience a rollercoaster of symptoms, with one of them being our food cravings and the amount we consume. Personally, I do not have a regular cycle, but I can always tell I am nearing my time when I am insatiably hungry for carbs. Anything warm and fluffy I need it all. Hormones are at work here doing what they have done for centuries, going back to when food was scarce and foraged. They are saying "stock up on all the food you can because you may be pregnant and you need to nourish the embryo". You may experience something similar, or something totally opposite. For some, the pain is so severe that food is the furthest thing from your mind. We all experience varying levels of an array of symptoms. I have no correction suggestions for these moments in your life because hormones are so tricky and incredibly different from person to person. So my only advice to you is to be kind to yourself during this time and if possible try to still choose healthier options. Don't beat yourself up if you eat junk food for days. Just do what serves you best and then get back on track when it's over. As you progress with making healthier choices during other stressful times, you will be more likely to be able to continue making those decisions even when your hormones get incredibly bossy.

  • Am I getting enough vitamins and minerals? Are my eating habits helping or hurting me?

When I say vitamins and minerals I am sure the image that comes to mind is a fistful of oval chalky tablets that are hard to swallow. That or the Flintstones multivitamin so many of us took as a child. With a balanced diet of whole foods, we can get much of the needed vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy and supportive environment within our bodies. We may already struggle with mental illnesses that cause us any number of symptoms, so trying our best to build up our minds and bodies with helpful foods will aid when there are dark episodes.

A great example would be chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue and brain fog are all too common among those of us with depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses. But it is also s symptom of people low in iron, B-12, Omega's, and possibly magnesium as well. By beginning to implement foods rich in these vitamins and minerals, we could begin to see a change in our daily experience. Fatigue may still persist depending on the seriousness of your illness, but the more you seek to enrich your diet, the better you can weather the storms.

Another example is that a craving for dark chocolate could be a cry for magnesium as well. There are many food cravings that are a part of a deficiency in one or more vitamins or minerals.

I realize that last week I said I would provide some food substitution suggestions as to the possible vitamin or mineral your body may be asking for, but after completing this last paragraph, I realize that perhaps some more lengthy explanations and examples may be of more help than a quick table of suggestions. So please, stay tuned once again for next week as I go into some more common symptoms we may be facing every day that we just shrug off as 'normal'. With our without mental illness, it is so important to understand how we can help heal our body with our food and our eating habits.

Until next time,

Wishing you health and peace,


© 2020 Go With Goals

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