In this Weekly Wisdom, I’m focussing on cravings for chocolate! We’re all familiar with craving the sweet stuff and during menopause these cravings are likely to increase. You may find that you’re thinking often about eating chocolate and other sweet foods and no matter how resolved you are to avoid them, you still end up bingeing.
Craving food, particularly chocolate, is actually very common, and affects approximately three-quarters of all women to some degree, with 60 per cent feeling that chocolate is a problem for them, particularly in their pre-menstrual week or, in what feels like your premenstrual week, as you journey through the perimenopause.
It’s also not uncommon to get into a routine of eating in excess of several bars of chocolate each day, sometimes whole packets of fun-size bars, or even a whole box of chocolate all in one sitting. Whilst a little of what you fancy does you good, excessive consumption does little for our self-esteem, or our waistlines.
No need to worry though, these cravings happen for a reason. When you’re going through the menopause, your hormones fluctuate more which can make you want to reach for the sweet stuff more than usual. Some of my patients are getting through 6 bars of chocolate a day before they see me.
What’s going on in my body and why do I feel this way?
These cravings are due to changes in your blood glucose levels, which leaves your body pining for sugar. Minerals and vitamins that are necessary for normal blood glucose control are also those that you lack during menopause. These include the trace mineral chromium, magnesium and B-vitamins.
So the chances are, by the time you reach midlife, you’ve probably run out of chromium and your blood glucose levels are all over the place… Cue chocolate!
When you succumb to that bar of chocolate your blood is absolutely saturated with sugar. Your brain goes on red alert because there’s too much sugar in your system and instructs your pancreas to release insulin which drives the sugar back into your cells. Your body does this so efficiently that you then got low blood sugar again. And then guess what? You reach for another bar of chocolate!
The trick is knowing how to break this cycle, which often develops into a real addiction, and just like alcohol, drugs or smoking, involves a period of withdrawal.
The Secret ingredients
There are three specific nutrients, which have been shown to be needed to maintain normal blood sugar control, but this has in fact remained a well kept secret. B vitamins (necessary for optimum function of the brain and the nervous system), magnesium (which also is necessary for normal hormone function, and incidentally, is the most common nutritional deficiency amongst women of childbearing age) and the trace element Chromium (we are born with approximately 1/16th of an ounce which lessens as the years go by).
Chromium, like magnesium and B vitamins can be sourced in food, but we have to know where to look for them. At the Natural Health Advisory Service, we pioneered a system for chocoholics for over twenty years, and recommend a specially formulated nutritional supplement which acts as a short term nutritional prop to regulate blood sugar levels.
The preparation known as Chromium Complex contains B Vitamins, magnesium and chromium as well as a little vitamin C.
- Eat little and often smaller meals and snacks in between so that you are always giving your brain and nervous system a supply of good nutrients.
- Consume foods that are rich in chromium magnesium and B-vitamins.
- For the hard-nose cravers, you will need to take a supplement to see off those cravings completely. I would recommend taking a daily tablet of Chromium Complex.
- Make it known that you would prefer non-chocolate presents this Christmas in order to reduce the temptation.
Follow my advice to claw back your control so you can enjoy yourself and not feel like you’re the slave to your cravings!