Sugar Cravings, Salt and Minerals

During the summers while I was in college, I waited tables at an Italian restaurant. I enjoyed the people interaction and the exercise. Sometimes I walked the equivalent of three to five miles per day, carrying trays that weighed half as much as I did. While some people found this exhausting, the sustained weight and movement left me invigorated. The only problem occurred after a long shift. Rationally, I knew I had just burned a ton of calories, but physically, I no longer felt hungry. In fact, after serving salads, garlic breadsticks and all manner of Italian foods all day, I couldn’t bear to look at any food. What to do?

That’s when I discovered a sneaky trick for gaining (or in my case maintaining) weight: combine sugar with salt. A heaping bowl of Rocky Road or Heavenly Hash ice cream topped with pretzels guaranteed that I could eat not just one, but two or more bowls of ooey-gooey calorie-laden food even when I didn’t feel hungry. In retrospect, it’s a little appalling that I lived on ice cream and pretzels for two summers and considered this a means of supporting my health, but it taught me something important about sugar cravings.

Later, when I studied macrobiotics, I learned that sugar represents the most yin (expansive) food and salt represents the most yang (contractive) food. Prescription drugs, nightshades, coffee and tropical fruits are also highly yin, whereas meat and eggs are highly yang.  The body wants to find a balance between yin and yang, and this fact has implications for people trying to beat food cravings or the late night munchies. According to macrobiotics, a meat-heavy meal almost demands a glass of wine or a sweet dessert in order to rebalance the yang effects of the meat. If the meat contained a salty sauce, then multiple drinks and desserts might seem irresistable. Conversely, if someone gorges on candy — even agave-sweetened “healthy” candy — s/he might suddenly experience an irresistable urge for salty foods. If the salt gorging swings past the middle, then s/he needs more sweet. Meanwhile, in the course of this pendulum swinging, a person could consume as much as an extra day’s worth of calories.

Macrobiotics follows principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which considers uncooked food difficult to digest, cold and harmful. For this reason, a truly macrobiotic meal contains very little raw food — perhaps just a salad — and lots of “neutral” brown rice.  The principles seem incompatitible with a raw food diet, and many people don’t see the point of integrating the two approaches. Gabriel Cousens does a wonderful job of combining the two diets in his book, “Conscious Eating.” I highly recommend this classic for more detailed information on the cross-cultural connections between spirituality and food.

For the purposes of this article, though, I would just like to share some things I’ve noticed repeatedly in Medical Intuitive Sessions. In The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide, I mention salt as one of the potential excesses on a raw food diet. Even if people do not salt their food, high salt sources include: miso, tamari, seaweeds (sea vegetables), Nama Shoyu, and salt-fermented veggies like sauerkraut. Over the years, and especially recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of people have turned to a raw diet in order to eliminate cravings and yet they’re still having them. Big time. I get a lot of calls from people struggling with this issue, so I’d like to address a few things here. As always, I intende my posts for information and research springboards only, not as medical advice:

1 ) If you crave sugar or sweet foods (agave, juicy frutis, bananas, candy, cane sugar, rapadura, etc.) on a raw food diet, check your corresponding salt intake. Trying to eliminate sugar cravings while continuing to indulge in lots of salty foods creates an impossible challenge. The body seeks balance. If you want to reduce one extreme, you’ll find it much easier to reduce the other extreme at the same time. Celery contains lots of natural sodium, and celery juice or celery with almond butter can help bring that sweet/salty pendulum into smaller arcs.

2 ) Consider a Candida connection. The “yeastie beasties” crave sugar, pure and simple. You can have the best intentions in the world, and if you do not get that Candida in check, you’ll have a devil of a time trying to resist the call of candy, carrot or fruit juices, beets, and agave. I’ve written on Candida many times before, since it affects so many areas of life. My top picks for regaining control of your gut include: fermented foods with Body Ecology starters, Oil of Oregano; pau d’arco tea; MSM (gradually building up to higher doses); no fruit juices; and taking steps to move beyond perceived or habitual limitations. (Candida vibrates to the kind of victim that feels put upon by life circumstances or other people. That “poor me” attitude lets Candida thrive, which unfortunately means that you don’t.)

3 ) Look into mineral deficiencies. Years ago, I heard from Victoria Boutenko that fruits grown in calcium-rich soil taste sweeter than fruits grown in depleted soil. I experimented with adding calcium to my diet and found that I did crave fewer sweets when I ate more tahini or broccoli. Odd, but true.

Salt cravings often signal mineral deficiencies. Some people have found that the use of sole, a specific concentration of Himalayan sea salt diluted in water, helps not only salt cravings but also sugar cravings! This may come in part from the trace minerals and in part because it helps people off the sugar/salt pendulum. 

One of my clients effortlessly lost 20 pounds by adding a combination of sole and MSM plus pau d’arco tea to her daily supplements. She had tried to lose those 20 pounds for years with no success, but by getting the mineral imbalances under control, driving those minerals into her cells with the MSM and drawing upon pau d’arco’s antifungal properties, she found her cravings disappear. 

4 ) On a more metaphysical level, you might also consider the symbolic properties of sweetness and saltiness. In macrobiotics, the spleen is most associated with sweetness. Western medicine doesn’t have a clear sense of exactly what the spleen does, but in esoteric healing, the spleen marks an entry point of life force energy or divinely directly helaing energy. Craving sweetness sometimes happens when people feel they’ve missed their deepest calling or “sweetest” desire in life — that something, which makes life amazing and joyful. I also notice this pattern frequently in diabetics. I call it “the diabetic profile” because I see it so often. Not surprisingly, diabetics have a difficult time “receiving” sweetness on the physical level, too.

For saltiness, I always think of Jesus saying to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness , how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Harsh words. Yet many of my clients feel exactly this way — as though life has robbed them of their saltiness, their essence. I call this the “Candida profile” and not surprisingly many of these people bounce between salt and sugar cravings.

You might notice a commonality between these two symbolic descriptions: both emphasize some kind of spiritual component. In the case of sweetness, things like meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki (especially learning Reiki and receiving an attunement) can provide a sense of reconnection with the Divine, which helps jump start recovery. Giving permission to receive abundance and enjoy love also helps. In the case of saltiness, some in-depth soul searching about life path and the nature of resistance often helps move things more into balance.

Your body never betrays you. It always works to support the soul’s deepest longings. Listening to your body offers one of the best ways to rediscover misplaced joie de vivre. I wish you many blessings along the way.

www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by giacintavosika,LMP,RMT on June 7, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Dear Laura, Thank you so much for this wonderful post. All that you shared is fascinating and I will take my time in digesting the specifics! 🙂 What seems to have worked especially well for me is to listen carefully to what my body tells me after drinking green smoothies – which I include three fruits, blueberries, apple and mango. For some reason these three fruits seem to go so well with kale, parsley, garlic, beet greens, broccoli and carrot and spinach (carrot and spinach don’t seem to be essential ingredients though) Ground flax seeds also seem to add quite a bit of balance to this smoothie. What seems to be true for me is that I am a lot more sensitive to how my body responds to ingredients when they are very well blended and my body absorbs them that way. Using my intuition and whole body knowledge has proven to select ingredients that alleviate cravings for me. No added sweet or salt is ever necessary when I employ the process I’ve shared above. Do you have any feedback on this? Thanks! Blessings and Love and thank you again for sharing this wonderful entry. It’s helped me to understand a few things on levels that I was not aware of. Giacinta

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  2. Posted by laurabruno on June 7, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Hi Giacinta,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. In answer to your question, it sounds like you are getting all the colors of the rainbow and thereby covering a full spectrum of nutrients. You also may be combining all five flavors — salty, sweet, pungent, bitter and sour — and that would also make it be particularly satisfying. I have to admit, garlic and fruit would likely give me a belly rumble, but it sounds like you’re drinking exactly what YOUR body wants and needs right now. Wonderful!
    Blessings and Love,
    Laura

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  3. Laura ~
    Thank you for this post!
    I have been craving sweet foods a lot lately (I’m gradually increasing my raw food intake) and I think it might be that I’m adding a pinch of sea salt to my salad dressings (amongst other things, now I think of it…). I’ll nip it in the bud and see if that helps!
    Thanks again, Emily.

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  4. Posted by giacintavosika,LMP,RMT on June 8, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Laura, Thanks for your response – wow! I didn’t know about the colors of the rainbow and five flavors! That’s so interesting and very cool how body knowledge leads the way once again! 🙂 About the garlic… It seemed strange to me as well when my intuition urged me to add it! So at first I added 1 clove to a blender that made 2 quarts of drink – I could hardly taste it at all but sensed how it actually brought out flavors that I had not been able to taste without it. The next day I put 2 cloves in and that was just the tiniest bit over. I think it was more about the essence of the garlic than it was about the actual flesh. 🙂 Also, adding the right amount of water to the mix really helps it digest nicely. That was a hint that you shared with me several years ago and comes in being just as important as any other ingredient! There’s such a great influx of folks asking about raw – all the help, information, guidance and enlightenment that you have shared for such a long time is truly resonating throughout the land! 🙂 And… it’s great for me to be able to help others with what you have imparted! Thanks again, dear friend. Blessings and Love, Giacinta

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  5. Posted by laurabruno on June 8, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    🙂 Glad to help and so happy to see you helping and supporting others! Blessings and Love, Laura

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  6. Posted by laurabruno on June 13, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Great, Emily, I hope you find it helpful. Blessings, Laura

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  7. Posted by Ana Maria Klais Cavallari on March 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Laura, I really appreciate your article and the way you write.
    (English is not my primary language)

    I have been craving for sugar few days ago and then I noticed that my body had more salt on that days. I came here to research and understand what may be happening. Well, I liked and already have shared it on my Facebook.

    I am reasonably fit a 50yo woman. I used to be very active and I still ambut I have been feeling pain in my joints and tiredness. Recently I discovered I have a mild osteo arthritis, so I am ingesting Glucosamine with Chondroitin and MSM wich has been helping. My legs, after years of swelling are wonderful now.
    The only issue is to make sure I am doing the right thing and really helping my body.

    I will visit this page more often.

    Best regards.
    Ana

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  8. Posted by laurabruno on March 23, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Thanks, Ana! Glad you found this helpful.

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