Two views: Food cravings


TRADITIONAL: DAWN PEACOCK, registered dietitian with Women’s Health Resources in Calgary

Most women have food cravings; it’s a normal and natural part of our relationship with food. But when our cravings control us, they unfortunately become a health problem. Low blood sugar is a major biological trigger for cravings. We crave carbohydrates because our bodies are trying to replenish those absent sugars. But if we choose simple carbs, such as cookies, candy or pop, we’ll experience a quick sugar high, then crash after an hour. After that spike, our blood-sugar levels can dip lower than before, making the next craving even more intense.

Low levels of serotonin (the “feel-good” brain chemical) can also trigger cravings. When our serotonin levels are low, we feel depressed. So we crave sweets or carbs because they boost serotonin production in our brains. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why low-carb diets can bring on irritability.

To manage food cravings, we should be eating every three to five hours. Complex carbs, protein, healthy fats and soluble fibre all help to moderate the sugar in our blood. Instead of reaching for the junk food, eat a wholegrain muffin with cheese or an apple with low-fat yogourt. You can also boost serotonin levels without food by listening to music, reading a good book, talking to friends or exercising.

And if you catch yourself eating through a box of cookies, be forgiving. The next time you indulge a craving, take out two or three cookies, seal the box, put it back in the cupboard and then sit down at the kitchen table to enjoy your treat.

ALTERNATIVE: JOY GRACE, hypnotist at the Inner Soul-utions for Wellness Centre in Victoria

Hypnosis is a state of focused concentration. Normally, we access only the conscious mind. Through hypnosis, we gain access to the subconscious mind. The conscious mind has the capacity of a pinprick compared to the subconscious. So doesn’t it make sense to involve your subconscious in finding a solution to your food cravings?

Food cravings are emotionally based and deeply rooted in past experiences: If your mom gave you a cookie when you were feeling sad as a child, you might reach for cookies now if you’re stressed. To get rid of the craving, I hypnotize you and then guide you to the cause of the craving. Your subconscious remembers everything. Once you’ve located the cause, I may take you further back in time and help you “rewrite” that experience. If your mom had given you a hug instead of a cookie, you wouldn’t be dealing with the craving now.

When I hypnotize a client, I have her sit in a comfortable chair and ask her to take a deep breath, then to close her eyes. Through one of many “induction” methods, I speak to the client, instructing her to release tension and stress and let go of herself so she is totally relaxed. The process slows down the client’s brainwaves so she can access her subconscious.

Hypnotism isn’t scary. Actually, when a client is hypnotized, she’s still aware at all times and remembers everything afterwards. Hypnotized clients can talk, scratch their arms and go to the bathroom; they remain fully in control. Later, clients say to me, “I had no idea I could be so relaxed.”