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Why you crave certain foods (and why it’s OK)

February 21st, 2018 | no comments

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Last week you learned how to build your very own energizing and satisfying PeaceMeals, with plenty of Earthfoods, Healthy Protein, and Healthy Fat.

We’re up to the next Nourish Guideline, and I just know you are going to resonate with it. 

Nourish Guideline #5: Build imperfection into your day

“You mean I’m not supposed to be perfect at this whole healthy eating thing? I shouldn’t feel guilty when I crave potato chips? It’s OK to have food cravings? ”

No, no, and yes!

There is something unsettling about a diet full of only healthy food…sort of like, the body craves a little bit of fun every once in awhile. I consider myself to be a pretty healthy eater: tons of veggies and greens, plenty of Healthy Fats, like avocados, nuts and seeds, and probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables. Because I feed my body this way, it craves these foods most often (remember…what you feed your body most, it will crave!).

But…

At least a few times each week, my body also craves sweet and salt. This used to frustrate me to no end, because if my body is supposed to crave what I feed it most, and I feed it nourishing and healthy foods, why the hell do I crave chocolate and tortilla chips if I don’t regularly eat them?

Then I was introduced to the works of Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. He states the following: “Our attraction to sweets and salt, carbohydrates and fat– is hard-wired from the Stone Age. Back then, food cravings were reliable signals to our ancestors to seek out certain foods that would provide energy (sugar, fat) and essential minerals (salt). Today, food is plentiful and it’s easy to avoid physical activity, but we’ve preserved craving tendencies because evolution is very slow”.

This helped me to remember that I am in fact human and even though I eat nutritious food 90% of the time, human beings are imperfect. Therefore, an expectation of 100% is completely ridiculous and unrealistic. So I decided to reframe the way I approach my cravings:

“Hello, my name is Melanie Jatsek and I crave sugar and salt from time to time, which therefore makes me a perfectly imperfect human being.”

Boy does that feel good! Talk about a total sense of inner freedom. I encourage you to give yourself permission to be a perfectly imperfect human being too. Shout it from the rooftops. Embrace it!

I often chuckle when I run into someone I know while grocery shopping. The encounter goes something like this: We exchange a warm, friendly greeting and then she proceeds to apologize for the contents of her grocery cart, blaming the box of cookies on her husband and children. After I assure her it’s OK, I then point to the chocolates in my cart. So, if I ever run into you at the store and you happened to have a food in your cart that you’re not proud of, instead of hiding it or explaining it away, stand proud and repeat my mantra:

“Hello, my name is ________________ and I crave __________ and ____________ from time to time, which therefore makes me a perfectly imperfect human being!”

Just remember, your body craves what you feed it most. So if you are eating healthy food 90% of the time, you will crave healthy food 90% of the time.

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Turmeric

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties in the body.

Turmeric may offer protection against certain cancers, treat arthritis, benefit those with inflammatory bowel disease, reduce blood sugar, and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of this spice can be seen in rural India, where less than 1 percent of seniors aged 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease, compared to about 13 percent in the United States. Turmeric can also enhance neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells) while fighting Alzheimer’s disease–causing plaques.

Because curcumin may also prevent oxidation of cholesterol, it offers hope for those with high cholesterol.

It has a warm, earthy, sweet, peppery flavor, and is a key ingredient in most Indian curries.

Tip: Combining turmeric with black pepper increases its bioavailability (absorption). You can add fresh turmeric to smoothies, casseroles and rice dishes or add turmeric powder to egg salad, pea soup, lentil or bean salad, or your favorite roasted vegetable dish. See this week’s recipe for Turmeric Roasted Vegetables!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Turmeric Roasted Vegetables

I used to totally dislike Brussels sprouts …and then I was introduced to the wonderful world of roasting. Wow! What a game-changer. Roasting is a simple cooking method that really brings out the flavor of your favorite (and not-so-favorite-until-now) veggies. You can roast just about any vegetable– and for even more flavor– season with sea salt, pepper, and unsalted herbs and spices. My favorite seasonings for roasting are turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, thyme, and garlic.

Turmeric has a warm, earthy, sweet, peppery flavor, and is a key ingredient in most Indian curries.

Fill your dinner plate with a layer of Turmeric Roasted Vegetables and top with a piece of wild salmon, or mix into salad greens, dress with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and top with strips of tempeh for a truly unforgettable salad!   →→→

Print Recipe
Turmeric Roasted Vegetables
2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30-40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 large sweet potato unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices and then quartered
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced in half Cremini mushrooms are sometimes called "baby bella" mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30-40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 large sweet potato unpeeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices and then quartered
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced in half Cremini mushrooms are sometimes called "baby bella" mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and trim all vegetables and add to a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt, pepper, and spices. Using a large spoon, stir vegetables to evenly coated with oil and spices.
  3. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until tender. They should still have a slight crunch to them!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 210Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 330 mg; Potassium: 480 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 19 g; Dietary fiber: 6 g; Net Carbohydrates: 13 grams; Sugar: 6 g; Protein:5 g

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