As I dive into week two of my 40-day sugar fast, I’m experiencing the natural shift towards cravings for salt. Oh how I want a bag of tortilla chips, of which I rarely eat and never crave. I’m also noticing my desire for salt on things like hard-boiled eggs, and I have a strong yearning for cheese (also salty).
I know this is my body’s response to the stress caused by the sugar. You see, sugar gives your body energy by increasing blood glucose and also revving up your adrenals. The adrenals secrete hormones that help you respond to stress, and also affect energy output. Yet too much sugar can tax the adrenals, and they start to putter out, the same way a car would die out if you kept your foot on the gas pedal all day revving the engine.
Since cutting out the sugar, my adrenal fatigue is becoming more apparent, because I don’t have the sugar to cover it up. When the adrenal glands are fatigued, they fail to produce adequate amounts of several hormones, to include adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone. Lack of aldosterone can disrupt the sodium balance which explains the salt cravings.
Here’s the good news. People with adrenal fatigue – which is about 60% of the population – can actually benefit from adding small amounts of sea salt to their food. This brings natural sodium levels back to balance which supports healthy adrenal function. This does not mean loading up everything you eat with tons of salt. Use just a pinch of sea salt to taste. I also enjoy snack items like lightly salted almonds or edamame, miso soup, half a salted avocado, and my favorite PopChips in their potato and tortilla styles. Try the Sea Salt & Vinegar potato variety, and the new Chili Limon tortilla chip is a delicious salty snack with 1/3 less fat than other brands.
Now, do I give myself license to eat more salt and not address the underlying issues with my adrenals? No. I recognize that I need to deal with my stress. Good stress, but stress nonetheless. So aside from letting go of sugar, I also need to get enough sleep, spend more time in prayer and meditation, and find ways to ease the load.
Here’s what I know and I’ve heard this from hundreds of clients who take a break from sugar: Fasting from sugar is not just a test of tenacity and cleaning up your diet. This process is also about releasing things that drive you to overeat the sugar in the first place. If you don’t examine your triggers and get real with what drives you, then you’ll go back to the same patterns.
Today I realized the blessing in these salt cravings. They are reminding me that I need to re-balance. My body is saying, “Here’s what I’m doing to help you, now you kick in with the rest.” The rest being, well…rest.
More tomorrow on how rest & relaxation can be a a cure for what ails you.
Oh, one more more thing. My passion is transforming lives on a daily basis. The more people I communicate with, the greater the impact. If this post touched you, please consider passing it along to somebody you care about. It would mean so much to me to share these messages with your community. Thank you!
Julie Hammerstein is a Certified Nutritionist and one of the country’s leading weight-loss experts. She is a sought after coach and speaker, author of Fat is Not a Four-Letter Word, and Director of The Source for Weight Loss. To learn more about Julie and her programs, please visit www.juliehammerstein.com.