I believe that you need to realize that your food cravings are a result of your own eating habits. You need to understand the science behind your addiction and only then can you outsmart your brain and start the process of slowly eliminating these foods, and end the vicious dieting cycles once and for all.
So what’s your poison? Ice cream, cup cakes, pastries (sugar addict) or Doritos, nachos, popcorn (salt addict)? They are both just as addictive and so detrimental to your overall health, well-being, and your physique.
If you’re craving these foods, you’re not alone. Research is showing that addictions to sugar, fat, and salt are hardwired into our brains. Processed foods are likely to cause wild cravings and out of control eating. Here’s a list of the most addictive foods, and my suggestions on how to break free. You can retrain your taste buds to love healthier stuff. I promise.
I’m starting with the lesser of three evils. Eating fat makes you want more fat. Scientists have discovered that digesting large amounts of fat releases compounds that stimulate the desire for more fat. Restricting fat however does not trigger withdrawal symptoms so this is why I say it’s the lesser evil. But, with 9 calories per gram, overeating fat will definitely lead to more weight gain.
To overcome your fat addiction please does not cut out all fats. Eliminate trans fats in processed food and eat less saturated fat, found in meat, full-fat dairy and processed foods. If you cut back on cheese for lasagna, spice it up with dried herbs and seasoning. Pack your food with natural spices and herbs and I guaranty it will taste just as good as or better than the full fat version.
Enjoy moderate amounts of healthy fats like nuts, avocado, seeds, olive oil, and salmon or sea food. Pair these with whole grains, beans, and fresh produce and you are well on your way to eating a wholesome and well-balanced meal.
This is probably the most over abused substance in the modern world. Scientists have shown that the brain of a person while consuming sugar is activating the same region of the brain linked with enjoyment. However, the more sugar a person consumes, the more brain activity is observed in the reward centers in the brain. In a study done by France’s University in Bordeu, researchers found that sugar triggered a greater response in the reward centers of the brain than cocaine. Just sit back and think of the fight you are up against when you lightly tell yourself, I will eat better tomorrow. Then find yourself not able to go past noon without grabbing a cookie, or chocolate bar. You’re trying to quit a substance comparable to cocaine. Be easy on yourself and realize the battle is tough. The greatest risk in not just to your waist line, high-sugar diets are a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Outsmart your addiction by educating yourself. Read labels if you are buying anything packaged. From the “no-sugar” salad dressing, to “sugar-fee” cookies, these are all sales and marketing terms. Look for fewer added sugars and learn the different terms for sugar used in labeling. Chose naturally sweet foods like fruits vs. processed foods. Add some spice like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. To sweeten your fruit, coffee, or yogurt try some natural vanilla extract or natural plant based sweeteners like stevia. Personally try to make as much as you can from scratch at home. If that’s not possible avoid foods in the center of the grocery store. If it has a shelf life it is most likely full of preservatives and additives. Look to shop the outside of your store-produce, freezer, dairy, and refrigerated sections. Most of the healthy and essential ingredients are here. I call the aisles in the super market the “convenience” section. You will find certain foods like oatmeal, rice cakes, peanut butter, oils, seasonings, and rice in the aisles so don’t get me wrong. Just learn how to read labels in the convenience section.
Lastly, warm foods taste sweeter. Try baking apples, grilling peaches, broiling grapefruit, or sautéing grapes. Try it!! Also be sure to include protein in each meal. It will help keep your blood sugar levels steadier for longer. Protein staves of hunger and helps to reduce the cravings for more refined carbohydrates.
The silent killer. Salt and addictive drugs activate the same brain areas. Researchers have found a “salt appetite center” in the brain that also responded to cocaine and opium. A strong taste for sodium is also a survival instinct. Mammals, humans included, need salt to regulate fluids and blood pressure. A hunger for salt though can have severely detrimental effects when obesity-generating foods are loaded with sodium. Most of that bloat you see around your belly is water weight from consuming too much sodium and not drinking enough water (minimum 2 liters per day). Your body is a machine and to counter high sodium your body will hold extra water. It is most noticeable to me in my belly and also around my fingers, when my rings get tight I know I ate something with too much salt.
How to combat sodium? Well at least 70-80 percent of dietary sodium comes from processed foods, restaurant meals, and fast food. Did you know that bread contains one of the highest amounts of sodium for prepared products? Make sure you check that. Chose fresh unprocessed foods, or at least low-sodium versions of the food you love. Cook without salt. This is my #1 rule. I add salt free spice blends like Mrs. Dash and tons of fresh or dried herbs (mostly dry out of convenience), vinegar, garlic and onion are great for flavor. It will take several weeks to get used to this. But I promise, give it 4 weeks and your taste buds will actually prefer a low-sodium diet.
Everyone’s looking for a quick fix or magic pill these days. Well, I do have some magic here but it’s not that quick. You can retrain your taste buds and kick the sugar, salt, and fat from your diet. You can then curb those cravings. How long? Well, several months, 2-3 maybe. But as I mentioned, it is like a drug so if you relapse, you start over. Even me. If I try to be polite and have a “tiny” piece of cake, well that leads to some insane sugar cravings over the next several hours. I am aware though as to why I am craving it so I just “ride out the craving”. Now that you are aware, just remember what is causing the craving and that the urge will pass. After you have retrained your taste buds you can look forward to a life where you won’t be choosing between food that tastes good and food good for health. You’ll love the flavors of natural, healthy food. You’ll love the foods that love your waist line and health.
I’ll end this by wishing success, better health, and a smaller waist!!
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With lots of love.