Read on as we bust together some diet myths.
WHY DO WE GET THE MUNCHIES?
Generally, the munchies are caused by one of, or several of the following factors.
1. Lack of essential nutrients in current diet.
Lack of essential minerals will trigger cravings. This is your body’s cue to search for nutrient-rich foods, hoping to get their stock replenished. For example, lack of sodium will make you crave sweet.
A diet lacking healthy fats and bioavailable quality protein will not provide you satiety and keep you hungry, craving for more (essential nutrients like cholesterol and key amino-acids).
Although water is not a nutrient, thirst can also interpreted as hunger.
Incorporate minerals in an easy to assimilate form by taking daily 1/2 teaspoon of quality unprocessed sea salt (Celtic sea salt for example). Repeat liberally whenever the need arises and after each workout / sauna to replenish the loss incurred by sweating.
2. Emotional eating
Eating is a primal response that soothes the nervous system (think warm sweet breastmilk). To a certain extent, sugar lowers adrenal production of cortisol -the stress hormone. So don’t beat yourself up next time you reach for chocolate when you’re feeling anxious. It’s hardwired in you.
There are ways to rewire your response to emotional triggers. To name a few: homeopathy (yes it works wonders), Neuro-Linguistic Programming, EFT tapping, journalling… Address it.
3. Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep will trigger your body to request energy-rich foods (carbs and sugar) to sustain itself. Sleep deprivation can lower glucose metabolism by 40% and insulin response to glucose by 30%.
Make sleep your priority.
Prioritise 8h sleep.
4. Sustained stress
Stress is demonised as a root cause for many chronic illnesses. While a certain amount of stress is beneficial (exercise and coffee are two examples), sustained stress generates chronic low-grade inflammation. Elevated cortisol triggers desire for sugary treats (see above).
A good way to release stress is practicing physical activities you enjoy (but no hardcore training in the evenings!).
Vagus nerve stimulation is also a great way to switch on the parasympathetic system - the rest & digest mode. Singing, humming, deep belly breathing, grounding, gurgling are great ways to achieve that.
5. Insulin resistance
Insulin resistance generates sugar and carbs cravings.
Addressing all the above will help your insulin resistance. To further manage your insulin levels and progressively balance them, switch to an appropriate diet: high in bioavailable quality protein and saturated fats (both found in grass-fed, organic meat and dairy), low in carbs (<40g per meal), void of refined sugar and refined foods (including deep-fried).
SHOULD I DO INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Extensive intermittent fasting isn't recommended for PCOS as it generates unnecessary stress + causes too much insulin spikes.
I recommend all my clients 5 smaller nutrient-dense meals a day, the first of which within 1h of waking-up.
That being said, anyone can easily achieve almost 12h fasting daily by having dinner 3 hours before going to bed (provided you sleep 8h at night!). The benefits extend beyond:
going to bed feeling very full impedes proper quality sleep
energy utilisation is minimal during sleep. fuelling your body means the body will stock up - especially if the dinner was rich in carbohydrates.
SHOULD I DO KETO?
Ketogenic diet was designed for cancer patients to slow down tutor growth. All cells have the capacity to feed either on glucose or on fat except cancerous cells which can feed only on glucose. The ketogenic diet is void of any glucose, which prompts the body to enter a ketogenic state where it switches its primary fuel from glucose to fat, thus “starving” the cancerous cells.
However high fat intake (especially refined fat) will lead back to insulin resistance.
Therefore the appropriate approach is a diet high in bioavailable quality protein, with healthy fats to a lesser extent. Luckily this is exactly how mother Nature designed it: most foods high in protein come with some amount of saturated fat: muscle meat, eggs, dairy products.
WHAT ABOUT FIBER?
My favourite myth to bust.
Fiber is not a nutrient. Contrary to minerals, vitamins, amino-acids, the body does not have a fiber requirement for optimal health!
Fiber can be useful in small doses to provide fuel for the bacterial colonies in the colon.
But excess fiber will cause the opposite effect. It irritates the gut lining and cause over time leaky gut - an open door to chronic illnesses. Whenever you experience bloating or flatus (especially smelly), that is your body’s cue to reduce fiber intake. Favour well-cooked veggies, soups and fresh-pressed juices or just skip them altogether for a while.
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