This is a question I received from a stressed out mom in my community. She has identified when she craves sugar and the emotion connected to her cravings. Now she has questions about how to trial and use amino acids to stop her cravings, get her energy back and feel emotionally stable:
I know I am an emotional eater, I know I eat sugar as a reward and I do find myself craving it when I am fatigued. I also seem to crave it after a very savory meal; especially one with garlic. What is THAT about?! Do you have clients on more than one amino acid?!
I have been a caregiver for my son (multiple disabilities) for 30 years; he has uncontrolled seizures and my husband has PTSD. It is a stressful household.
This is what I shared with her about the brain chemical imbalances and amino acids:
- Many of my clients need more than one amino acid but it’s best to trial one at a time. When I hear my client say they eat sugar as a reward we immediately consider a trial of DPA (d-phenylalanine) especially if they are also overly emotional/weepy and also have physical pain.
- When I hear my client say “I do find myself craving sugar when I am fatigued” we consider low catecholamines and a trial of tyrosine especially if they also have poor focus, low motivation and a flat mood. If the fatigue is caused by low blood sugar this can cause fatigue, irritability/crankiness and anxiety and a trial of glutamine may be a better option. If the DPA helps the emotional-reward-eating after a week or two, then we may do a trial of tyrosine and/or glutamine (one at a time) and use them in addition to the DPA.
- When I hear “sugar cravings after a savory meal” we consider low serotonin and a trial of tryptophan if it’s after lunch or dinner. Serotonin dips in the afternoon and evening triggering this type of craving. With low serotonin we also see worry, anxiety, depression, anger, PMS, insomnia and irritability. Let’s assume the DPA helps and the tyrosine helps with the fatigue, then we’d consider a trial of tryptophan and add that.
So yes I do have many clients needing more than one amino acid! But we always trial one at a time and find a good baseline before adding the next one or doing a new trial if the first one didn’t give expected results.
With regards to which amino acid trial to do first, I always ask my client which area is causing the most problem or distress in your life and we start there. Since she mentioned emotional eating and then fatigue and then cravings after a savory meal, this sequence may be best for her. But addressing the fatigue with tyrosine first may be a better approach for someone else.
With regards to cravings after a savory meal we also look into how much protein and healthy fats the client has in that meal. I don’t know why garlic would be a trigger other than it’s possibly stirring up candida. Candida is also a big factor when it comes to sugar cravings, fatigue and feeling sad/emotional so we would also possibly need to address this too.
Adrenal and sleep support is also key and I recommend this resource for additional caregiver support for her – The psychological trauma of coronavirus – nutritional support for doctors, nurses and their loved ones.
For her husband’s PTSD I recommend this resource – PTSD from 3 tours in Afghanistan: Can GABA help with the anxiety?
For her son’s seizures I recommend this paper, Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy: What We Know So Far, and working with a practitioner who could offer consultation and guidance on a ketogenic diet. Another useful resource is this one – Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials.
If you suspect low levels of any any of the neurotransmitters and are new to using the amino acids and do not have my book I highly recommend getting it and reading it before jumping in to taking supplements: The Antianxiety Food Solution – How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings.
There is a complete chapter on the amino acids and one for pyroluria, plus information on real whole food, sugar and blood sugar, gluten, digestion and much more. If you’re not a reader there is now also an audible version.
Here is the Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from The Antianxiety Food Solution and additional information on Anxiety and targeted individual amino acid supplements: a summary
Please also read and follow these Amino Acid Precautions.
This lists The Antianxiety Food Solution Amino Acid and Pyroluria Supplements that I use with my individual clients and those in my group programs. You’ll find DPA, tyrosine and tryptophan listed here.
Please share your emotional eating and sugar craving success story if you have one using DPA.
And let us know if tyrosine helps with your fatigue and low-energy driven sugar cravings?
And does tryptophan help your afternoon and evening sugar cravings?
Feel free to post your questions here too.