I grew up on a farm with my Mom’s garden and Dad’s animals and field. Wholesomeness, hard work and fresh air – can’t beat it!
We all need to eat and unlike other addictions can’t just quit cold turkey (pun intended) or even gradually like with other addictions. Is it about will power or could there be a physiology reason behind our cravings?
Most common addictive properties in foods include the salt, fat, sugar and additives. Some fast food and chain restaurants know this and use this to keep us addicted. i.e. soaking the vegies in sugar water before cooking. Yes, it can be a preservative, but besides addicting us, it is adding all of those hidden calories! My friend Devi shared it is the enzyme used to process cheese that makes it addictive.
5 causes of food cravings from Kris Carr
Low levels of serotonin
Serotonin is a “feel-good” neurotransmitter produced mainly in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It’s thought to have a strong influence on mood, appetite, and digestion. Eating carbohydrates and sugar increases the release of serotonin (study) making us feel fabulous (temporarily). So, when our levels are low, our brains think, “Oh! That candy bar or bagel is going to fix this!” A low serotonin level can be due to a variety of things, including poor gut health (90% of serotonin is made in the gut—more on that later), alcohol consumption (study), feelings of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Eating carbs, sugar, chocolate, and maybe even salt (study) increases the production of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are human-produced opiates that make us feel relaxed. They’re also produced during sleep and exercise (aka “runner’s high”). So when we eat these foods and experience this feeling, we want more—similar to the way drug users become addicted to narcotics. One recent review study found that at the chemical level, sugar consumption resulted in an even more intense feeling of reward than cocaine (study)!
Not as well studied but well worth mentioning is the protein casein found in cow’s milk, which is especially rich in cheese. The digestion of casein (found in cheese) results in the production of opiates called casomorphins in the body (study and study). Casomorphins make you feel fantastic just like morphine does—hello, brie addiction!
A wonky gut
As mentioned earlier, low serotonin levels are linked to cravings and your gut is the epicenter of serotonin production. In order to maintain feel-good levels of serotonin, your gut needs to be in tip-top shape so that it can absorb nutrients from your food and pump out the right amount of serotonin through your gastrointestinal tract. This process is greatly dependent on healthy levels of digestive enzymes and the proper balance of good bacteria. So when the bad bacteria overpower the good guys, there’s a strong chance that your cravings may overpower you. Cultivating a healthy balance of good bacteria by eating fermented foods, taking probiotics, and embracing other gut-happy habits may foster the intestinal peace necessary to calm your cravings.
This is a biggie. Sadness, boredom, stress, poor self-esteem, negative body image (and the list goes on) may prompt you to check out what’s in the pantry. Who doesn’t want a sleeve of Oreos when they look back on a painful breakup, losing a job or just having a bad day? But since food cravings are often fleeting and disappear within an hour, choosing to eat a healthier food for the time being or opting for a mood-boosting activity may give you enough satisfaction in the moment while the craving passes.
Did you know our tastebuds are sated in 20 seconds? So do we really need to eat the whole thing?
Ready to focus on what we want, not what we don’t want?
First of all, what I do advocate for is the Trilogy of healthy body, healthy mind and healthy finances. When our minds are in the right space, we can tackle anything –including the finances to live the lives we choose to create!
Let’s talk about Robert Fritz’s Structural Tension model. If we know where we are and we know where we are going, we have tension between that seeks resolution. Imagine a rubber band stretched. Why do we give up on our goals? Sometimes we resolve just enough that the pressure is off, so we go back to our old behaviors. What if we stayed focused long enough to reach the vision we have created? How could we celebrate that? It really is about developing the vision and all the details of our life the way we want it.
5 Tips for Tackling Food Cravings
1. Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking about half your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water daily (if you’re 140 lbs, drink 70 oz water a day). Thirst and dehydration make you feel hungry, and may kick up your cravings. Drink water throughout the day to help you stay hydrated and control your hunger.
2. Eat something else. Even though you feel like you “need” a chocolate bar, chances are you’ll be just as satisfied with a healthier alternative, such as hummus, nuts, fresh berries, low-glycemic whole food desserts, or even a cup of tea. Having better choices on hand to munch on can help distract those cravings until they pass.
3. Exercise and stay rested. Rather than relying on french fries and cookies to help you feel relaxed and happy, go for a brisk walk during the day and get into bed with a good book a little earlier in the evening. These habits produce endorphins just like the best tasting truffles on the planet. Plus, the exercise may boost your serotonin levels—something that should help you skip sugar and extra carbs more easily too.
4. Make meditation and sunshine a priority. Taking a few minutes every day to meditate and getting 10-15 minutes a day of sunshine or light therapy may boost serotonin levels so you’re not reaching for Snickerdoodles to turn your mood around.
5. Avoid trigger foods for 21 days. Your taste buds have a great memory. If you really want to break a food craving, one of the best ways is to avoid eating those foods for a set period of time. Find a new food or drink—low-glycemic smoothies and desserts, fresh berries, guacamole and rice crackers, raw cashews, nut “cheese,”—to grab when you’re having a craving for candy, cheese, or chips.
6. Dental Health is critical. Plus it helps with cravings if you mouth is fresh.
My mentor Dr. A says you should be able to eat whatever you want (within moderation) as long as you are making the healthy choices daily. That may mean getting to a healthy weight first.
Eat Less CRAP
What is the best way to change your diet? It’s simple. Eat less CRAP
C – carbonated drinks
R – refined sugar
A – artificial sweeteners & colors
P – processed foods
Eat More FOOD!
F – fruits & veggies
O – organic lean proteins
O – omega 3 fatty acids
D – drink water
What do you do for fun?
Dr. A’s free ebook; Stop Challenge Choose
Healthy Games for May. For a $20 ante, join an online time and win cash and prizes for practicing healthy habits. Contact Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my Favorite References;
Tracie Mahan CHt – New Day Awakenings
Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen – Discover Your Optimal Health and Dr. A’s Habits of Health
Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy
Robert Fritz – The Path of Least Resistance
Devi Moss AADP Certified Health Coach – Simply Whole by Devi
Humor – Mrs Susan Schmidlin