3 Key things to help you sleuth out what’s up with your salty fatty food cravings
It’s 2p. Your energy is dropping. You notice your co-workers are opting for a cup of coffee or a candy bar, yet for you it’s all about salty fatty food cravings as that bag of potato chips in the vending machine seduces you with it’s oily salty goodness.
Or maybe late night snacking is your schtick and as 11p rolls around, you find yourself thinking, ‘Good GAWD. A bag of french fries sure as heck would taste good right now. Wonder which fast food restaurant is open this late?!’. You – can’t – stop – thinking – about – those – dang – fries.
And you’re puzzled, BECAUSE the majority of people around you seem to be dealing with sugar and/or caffeine cravings. OR, you might have historically dealt with sugar and/or caffeine cravings and NOW your ‘sugar cravings’ seem to have faded and your desire for salty fatty foods has taken over.
So, what GIVES?!?
Here are 3 key things I find people either don’t think about, or simply overlook when dealing with salty fatty food cravings (aka: the BIG ol’ ‘French Fry’ factor):
1) Check your stress level
I was talking to a colleague about her salty fatty food cravings. She’s like many people I work with: smart, effective in life, and committed to doing a LOT with her days (completing her degree, working full time, coaching a leadership program, driving long distances to and from her commitments…).
As we’re talking, it’s blatantly clear that her body is in a state of stress. AND as is often the case, when I see someone in a near perpetual state of stress, their body will send out an alert for more salty and fatty foods.
When you’re stressed, especially if this stress is seemingly constant, your body and brain are going to do whatever they can to get the nutrients they need.
So why are you hankerin’ for salt? Your body is likely looking for more minerals. And although it’d be a great idea to go nosh on some green schtuff like dark leafy greens, broccoli, etc *thanks to Mother Nature’s wisdom these foods are loaded with minerals* for the majority of folks out there this is not a very helpful suggestion when they’re in the throws of a craving.
So – back to salt: It’s an immediate source of two key minerals – sodium and chloride.
- Sodium – Your body needs sodium to support the proper functioning of the sodium/potassium pump at the cellular level. During times of stress, you’re likely to see an increase in sodium excretion. Why does this matter? Well, for starters that ol’ sodium/postassium pump makes sure that your nerves are working properly, that your muscles contract on cue, and that your heart is doing its job.
And guess what organ has a role in regulating the sodium/potassium pump? *hint: think stress response*. Yep – you guessed it – the adrenals.
Increase stress –> increase sodium excretion —> crave salt
- Chloride – In your body, chloride is imperative for producing Hydrochloric Acid (HCl). Without adequate levels of Hydrochloric Acid (gastric juices) to support healthy digestion, a whole host of things start to go awry. Factor in that your body will essentially pause digestion when stress is running the show and it becomes all the more important to be sure your stomach juices are primed and ready.
- Your body can’t ‘make’ minerals. They need to come from your diet, supplements, or your body’s mineral storage site – your bones [*yep – your ol’ bones are a mineral reservoir! In fact, your bone is living tissue, and it’s important that your body can move minerals in and out… Too many mineral withdrawals, and your bones will get brittle. Osteopenia or worse yet – osteoporosis anyone?] In this case, sodium & chloride – known as macro minerals (needed in larger amounts) are most efficiently found in your diet.
Although straight up table salt (or processed, salty foods) is not the most ideal way for your body to get these nutrients, it IS something that’s easy & fast. So if your body is ‘asking’ for and craving corn chips, potato chips, onion rings, french fries, and even salty foods like pickles…take note.
So why are you digging on some fat with your salt? Fat is a bit like a super hero in the nutrition realm, and one of its super powers is that it can make you feel GOOD. How does it do this?
- When you eat fat, you’re likely to feel a sense of pleasure and relief. It’s hypothesized that fat follows along the endorphin production pathway, providing essentially a ‘dietary analgesic’ – said another way, it’ll numb you out. So if you’re craving fatty foods you might have a need to buffer the intensity of what’s going on around you. And usually, it’s not a conscious ’need’.
How to know if a food you’re eating might be helping you ‘numb’ out? Check your language. If you hear yourself saying ‘LOVE’ within reference to the chosen food, drink, etc. – it’s likely that your brain and bod are getting an endorphin bump.
‘I LOVE onion rings!’
‘Pizza is my favorite food! I LOVE it like there’s no tomorrow…’
‘Chocolate makes me swoon. I LOVE it!’
- Fats are needed to support brain function. And although eating a bag of potato chips isn’t going to give you the fats that your brain is looking for when it comes to foundational long term support, it will provide you with a quick fix.
2) Another thing to do when you find yourself dealing with salty fatty food cravings, is to check your digestion.
Building on my conversation with my colleague above, she also shared that her digestion had been all over the map for years (gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn, diarrhea).
She first started noticing her digestion getting wonky when her stress level had started to go up a number of years prior. No surprise. When you’re in a state of stress your body’s fight or flight response kicks into gear. And one thing your body knows to do is reroute blood flow away from your gut essentially putting your digestion on hold so that your body can focus on more critical things.
Key here, is to support your digestion. Here are two fundamental steps I find make a MASSIVE difference for my clients when cravings are a factor:
- Add a basic digestive enzyme supplement to your regimen, whether or not you’re dealing with digestive issues. This will help you liberate the nutrients from your food, and as a result offer potential relief from cravings.
- B—r—e—a—t—h—e consciously for 60 seconds, before you go grab that bag of chips: Seriously, this is so simple it’s often mind boggling for people.
60 seconds of conscious breathing can gently reset your stress response & activate digestion.
Be sure you’re doing balanced breathing – both down into your belly & into your chest (not just shallow ‘chest’ breathing) and breathe slowly. Slow & conscious breathing will support you in feeling a sense of relaxation and will (get this!) increase your endorphins *nice!*.
3) When fatty foods are calling your name, it can be your body’s way of telling you it needs more HEALTHY fats:
The third piece of this salty fatty food cravings ‘puzzle’ is to make sure that you’re actually getting the right types of fat.
Fat is not the bad guy. Fat – is – AWESOME. It makes things taste good; it has our bodies feel good; AND you’ve got to have certain fats to support cellular functions. ESPECIALLY – in – your – BRAIN.
If you’re craving fatty foods (chips, butter, fried foods, cheese, heavy cream…), one or both of the following are usually at work:
- You’re not getting enough healthy fats in your day to day diet. Here are a couple things to consider.
Essential fats are just that – essential. You can’t make them, they need to come from your diet or from supplements.
Clients that put the right type and amount of fat into their day to day food & supplement choices, often find their ‘need’ for fatty foods diminishes. Not sure where to begin? Be sure to get some support to figure out how much and which kinds of ‘fats’ you need to add in.
- Your body is not effectively digesting fat.
Check – your – digestion. If you’re dealing with any type of digestive issues (heartburn, chronic gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation…), your body is trying to tell you something. Listen up.
If you’re someone that often says ‘I can’t digest fats’, or when you take a supplemental fat you get ‘fish oil burps’, it’s likely your bod is needing some support. Adding in a digestive enzyme with an extra dose of lipase (a digestive enzyme that zeros in on fat) with your food and/or fat supplements can make a BIG difference.
Phew! That’s a LOT of salty fatty food cravings information. If you feel like your eyes are a tad crossed, I get it. *go ahead and take a moment to uncross ‘em before we wrap this puppy up*.
So what to do with all of this information?
1. Trust the process. It’s true that reading this post isn’t going to ‘solve’ your salty fatty food cravings. Rather having this information gives you some new tools to work with. The next time your french fry cravings pop up, you’ll have a new view of what might be going on…
For example, a colleague of mine shared that after we talked about the above, now when she craves potato chips she stops and looks to see what’s she’s stressing out about. She’ll then check in with herself to see if what she really needs is a bath, a cup of tea, or to step out of the office and take a walk.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Especially if your salty fatty food cravings are chronic. Your body is trying to get your attention. This is a good thing. I promise!
3. Have some fun! Dealing with cravings is a bit like working with a jig saw puzzle. You put one piece in place, then another…and at some point, you’ve completed this particular puzzle and it’s time to move on to the next one. Embrace the process and it can be a super cool experience.
4. If you find all of this overwhelming, don’t go it alone. Find someone that can work with you to help translate what your body is telling you. It’s SO much easier when you have someone to support you along the way.
Want some support in sleuthing out your salty fatty food cravings?
That’s understandable! I have an upcoming ‘Deconstruct Your Cravings’ course. It’s a new program I’ve designed to support you in connecting the dots around YOUR cravings. Put your name on the early registration list and you’ll not only get to sign up before the general public, you’ll save some moolah on the cost of registration. Drop your name on the list here.
Don’t want to wait for my upcoming course? Fantastic! I work with a select number of private clients every year to directly support them in deconstructing their cravings. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, then your next step is to fill out my online Discovery session form. Either myself or someone on my team will follow up with you to schedule a time to talk.
To your brilliance,