Q. I get killer cravings – what can I do?

A. Don’t use food as a substitute for something else. If you’re bored, stressed, or have no spiritual guidance – something I believe is lacking in modern life – you may turn to food to fill that void. Seek counselling if you believe your cravings are being triggered by something you’re missing.

Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Chemical receptors in the body tell the brain when nutrients enter the body, and this decreases appetite. If you’re eating foods lacking in nutrients, your body will trigger you to keep eating until you deliver them. Avoid stimulant drinks – apart from being loaded with sugar, they trigger production of neuropeptide-Y, which actually makes you eat more high-sugar foods. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Research shows repeatedly ingesting them stimulates appetite, increases carbohydrate cravings and promotes fat storage; some studies suggest weight gain is greater with them than with sugar!

Protein increases satiety, so eat a diet based on lean protein, plus up to 50g of good fat like olive or coconut oil, which is the body’s preferred fuel, and you can balance your body’s hormonal chemistry, which will help you to lose weight. Bitter vegetables like kale stimulate gall bladder function so you empty the bowel regularly, preventing old faecal matter from building up.

Naturopath Teresa Mitchell-Paterson, BHSc (Comp.Sci.), MHSc (Hum.Nut.) is a member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.