WHY ARE YOU ADDICTED?
First things first, you aren’t alone when it comes to being addicted to food. There’s a reason why Lays, the huge potato chip company, used the slogan, “Bet you can’t eat just one!” The food industry has scientists working around the clock looking to expose what your body craves in order to create a product that will keep you coming back for more. However, the secret to outsmarting the food industry is simpler than you might ever think.
NATURE’S INTENTIONS ARE HONEST
Our bodies crave the big three when it comes to food – salt, sugar and fat. This is a built-in method that stems from our instincts to survive in nature. Dating back to our ancestors, we have been able to detect which foods are safe in nature by how they taste.
*Sweet = safe
*Fatty = energy-rich
*Salty = preserves fluids
*Bitter = poison
When you ingest sugar and fat, you increase the amount of opiates being released into your brain. These opiates stimulate your brain to release dopamine (the “feel good hormone”), which gives you pleasure, alertness, concentration, euphoria and motivation.
FOOD INDUSTRY’S INTENTIONS ARE NOT
The food industry has been able to create “food-like products” with concentrated addictive tastes, all without having any nutritional value. Remember, it’s their job to make you eat more of their company’s food, whether it’s healthy or not. These concentrated tastes overstimulate your taste buds in such a short period of time that your brain doesn’t even have time to register how much you have actually ingested. It is concentrating on releasing the opiates, dopamine and that pleasurable feeling it has been looking for.
Typically, the food industry will eliminate the food’s dietary fiber, dehydrate it, and then process it at extremely high temperatures (which strip its nutrients). If you took a cup of grapes and dehydrated them, you will be left with a quarter-cup of dried grapes (raisins), and then if you added sugar, artificial sweeteners and chocolate, now you have chocolate covered raisins. If you had to eat 1,000 calories worth of fresh grapes, you probably physically couldn’t do it, BUT it’s fairly easy to eat 1,000 calories worth of chocolate covered raisins.
Another example of the food industry’s processing techniques is when they take out the fiber in brown rice, making it white rice. This not only completely changes the texture and flavor of the rice, but it also concentrates the sugar – and as we know, a concentration in sugar is never healthy for the body.
Addictive foods tend to be housed in packages in order to look tasty, convenient and attractive to consumers. Try to look for unpackaged foods, usually found on the perimeter of grocery stores, to avoid these processed foods and food-like products.
*Unfortunately, we as a society have not demonized the food industry like we have done with the tobacco industry, but isn’t it really the same thing? They’re both causing disease to spread like wild-fire throughout the world.
*A Connecticut College study of rats showed that Oreo filling, morphine and cocaine stimulated the pleasure portion of the brain. However, when rats were given the choice between the three, they chose the Oreo filling!
FOODS WITH A “PARACHUTE”
I like to use the example of a “parachute” when referring to addictive vs. whole foods. Foods with a “parachute” (whole foods) slowly digest, assimilate and absorb into your body at a rate in which you can fully receive all of the food’s nutrients. Additionally, your body is going to be aware of how much of these foods it has ingested. Foods with no “parachute” (food-like products, processed foods) immediately digest, spike your blood sugar, cause chronic high insulin levels and typically provide you with little to no nutrients. Think of it like this: every time you eat, it’s like you’re jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Obviously, you would want to jump with a parachute, which can safely control your fall and guide you to the ground nice and easy. However, if you jump with no parachute, there’s just the free-fall.
SUGAR ADDICTION: IT’S REAL
Sugar addiction isn’t a surprising phenomenon considering that studies have shown it to be more addicting than drugs like cocaine and that over 80% of the foods found in grocery stores contain added sugars.2, 3 From candy, soda and even hamburger meat, sugar is added to almost everything people ingest. And a high amount of sugar in your bloodstream can cause major damage to your body such as:
- Mineral depletion
- Immune repression
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Low brain function
- Increased cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Yeast overgrowth
- Poor teeth
Sugar depletes essential nutrients in your body like magnesium and B vitamins, which your body needs to convert tryptophan, an amino acid, to serotonin (the “happy hormone”).
BE SUGAR SAVVY
You should understand which foods contain sugar, and which kinds of sugar at that. Make an inventory of higher sugar impact foods that you are currently consuming. Read the Nutrition Labels and Ingredient Lists on the back of packages to see how much sugar these foods actually have in them, and what quality of sugar. If any type of sugar is one of the three main ingredients in the package, PUT IT DOWN! Otherwise, take note of how many grams of sugar are in the package, the serving size and amount of servings that the package contains.
Making a journal of how much sugar you consume at each meal for even 3-5 days will help you identify foods you might be addicted to. So look at what you eat, at what time you eat and how you feel after you eat each food.
OWNING IT BY UNDERSTANDING IT
The most important part of kicking your food addiction is to take responsibility for your addiction. You must fight back by lowering your addictive food intake slowly. Going cold turkey will only leave you feeling deprived, which will tempt you to revert back to your old ways. You have to tell yourself that you are choosing not to eat these addictive foods because you know that you will gain more compared to what you are giving up. This will put you in the right mindset to change your lifestyle for good!
Unconsciously, the body craves certain foods to heal itself with nutrients and to mask its pain with pleasure. This is why your body tells you to keep eating when you ingest foods with no nutrients like most addictive foods. It is attempting to gain nutrients from the food, but when they don’t provide you with any (in processed and food-like products), your mind will keep telling you to eat until it is nutritionally satisfied. People confuse this unconscious reaction for a lack of willpower.
You should always look out for sugary, salty and fatty comfort foods. Ask yourself, are you eating this just to seek pleasure, or are you eating this for sustenance? When in doubt, find something that you love to do, like walking, watching TV, socializing, searching the web or exercising, and use that as your pleasure in place of addictive food.
*Satisfied vs. Stuffed – it takes your brain 20-30 minutes to catch up to your stomach. Think about foods without a “parachute” like a Twinkie – how many Twinkies can you eat in 20-30 minutes? I know I can eat too many!
A major problem with letting your emotions control your food intake is that when you receive the temporary pleasure to distract yourself from the emotion, once the pleasure goes away, the body will only be left with more pain. This starts a vicious cycle that will hardwire your brain to always seek more pleasure with poor food choices in an attempt to cover up pain.
It’s never easy doing something like this alone. If you really want to make sure that you kick this addiction for good, do it with a friend, spouse or a colleague from work. The extra motivation from a teammate can give you the push you need to accomplish your ultimate goal.
FOCUS ON FIBER, FAT AND PROTEIN
You should focus on ingesting foods that are high in fiber (flaxseed, vegetables, small amounts of fruit), healthy fat (nuts, ghee, avocado) and small amounts of lean protein (grass-fed and hormone-free meats like chicken and turkey) too. Utilizing fiber, fat and protein will slow the digestion process, stabilize your blood sugar, help with satiety and increase your energy. You should always accompany each meal with vegetables since these will provide you with vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep you healthy and full!
*Satiety – a full sensation after a meal
*Some foods actually have fiber, fat and protein in them, like avocados, seeds and nuts!
You can swap out addictive food for almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds as these other foods produce an increased level of dopamine as well. If you are craving sweets specifically, try podded peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets or rutabagas instead. These healthy alternatives are easy if you need to snack on something later in the night.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Do you want to look better? Feel better? Avoid cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease? Setting a goal for yourself will help you reach tangible results in both the short- and long-run.
Like I said before, going cold turkey is a losing battle. Start by making shifts in your diet like using complex carbs in place of simple carbs. You’ll find greater success by tapering down your usual unhealthy foods and by making better choices as the day goes on.
Sugar addiction is only one piece of the puzzle. Fill in the rest of the pieces with natural medicine and short cut your goals! Just mention this post and receive $30 off your initial appointment by August 14th, 2020!!