Episode 61 - Fighting Holiday Cravings

Hello Fitlandians! We have a very special treat for you today as we welcome, Dr. Kirstin Lauritzen to the show. We’re continuing our holiday series of podcasts to provide information and tools to keep our listeners healthy and on track through the holidays. Kirstin is here to teach us some easy tips to fight against those holiday cravings!

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Located in Sherwood, Oregon, Kirstin works as a chiropractor and helps people find a better nutrition route for their everyday lives. She has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology, Spanish and Human Biology as well as a Doctorate of Chiropractic and soon she will have her Masters in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.

So, What Is a Craving?

Physiologically, cravings typically come from the brain and the gut. The gut, often named the second brain, has similar nerves and hormones and is being linked more frequently with our craving cycles. There is good and bad bacteria in the gut and due to limited space, there is always competition for space. A poor diet enables the bad bacteria to flourish if we allow it by eating foods that are fried, high in sugar and overly acidic.

Kirstin says, “The better the food you eat, the more good bacteria will stick around.”

The bad bacteria causes us to have a spike in sugar cravings because it simply wants more of that substance as its primary fuel source. Kirstin explains that we all have addictive centers in our brain and sugar can be 8 to 9 times more addictive than any other drug so when these bad bacteria act up, it causes our brain to go haywire with the craving.

So, during the holidays, when there is an abundance of sugary treats all around, it’s important to be prepared to resume clean eating in the days following any consumption. By quickly resuming our healthy eating habits, we can stop the sugar cravings before they take over.

Christa explains, “It is not about willpower. We have programmed our brain through the reward system from infancy to equate sugar, refined carbs and alcohol to safety and pleasure.”

When we feel down or stressed, our brain utilizes these substances to make us feel “safe”, causing intense cravings. Not only do these cravings come from a primal safety perspective, but also from the bacteria in our gut which sends a message to our brain that it needs to be fed.

Kirstin’s Tips for Healthy Pickings at Thanksgiving Dinner.

  • In preparation for the holiday season, Kirstin encourages her clients to think of one or two of their absolute favorite foods that they must have. For her it’s pumpkin pie. It’s important to really embrace that celebration with your favorite treat which will leave you feeling much more satisfied.
  • If you know Granny is having her traditional holiday bake-off at Thanksgiving, Kirstin encourages you to bring a vegetable dish to contribute that you know is healthier for you and everyone else.
  • When you start to dish up your Thanksgiving plate, go for mainly veggies and eat them first so they begin to fill you up.

Oops, I Overindulged. Now What?

  • Probiotics will jumpstart getting more healthy bacteria to your gut quickly
  • Boost your water intake
  • Start with a green smoothie in the morning
  • Plan your meals and batch cook for the week

Helpful Tips to Stay on Track Afterwards.

  • Take time to breathe. Kirstin recommends a 20–30 second meditation-like “moment” to get centered on what your body truly needs in the moment.

Need an example? Check out Christa’s Simple Breath Work Mind Zoning®

  • Bring some oxygen to the brain even if it’s just a walk outside and stand up when you’ve been sitting for more than 30 minutes.
  • Connect and check in with your body. Drink a glass of water and ask yourself if you’re actually hungry or just bored. Take the time to determine if you’re craving something sugary or salty and would something like fruit or nuts curb that craving?
  • Put the electronics down and turn off the TV.
  • Throw out what tempts you in the pantry. If it’s there, you’ll eat it and if it’s not there, you likely won’t.

The most important part of bouncing back towards your health goals is to remember to NOT shame or guilt yourself about enjoying those holiday goodies - just focus on getting back on track.

Make sure to check our Kirstin’s website and her customized programs geared towards boosting performance in athletes working with nutrition, lifestyle and daily stressors and increasing exercise.


More detail about the bacteria in the gut:


And more detail about the bacteria in the gut and how it relates to cravings:



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