Are You A Food Addict?
Did you know that at least 90% of people fail to maintain their long-term healthy eating goals?
For many of us, we watch what we eat, we go to the gym, but eventually we fall off the “healthy eating wagon,” leading us back to the old days of low energy, flabby tummies, and frustration.
So why is that?
There is no “silver bullet” answer for this one, however, over the years I’ve noticed a recurring trend with so many people…
You see, IF you suffer from food addictions, your ability to control your food cravings may have a lot less to do with willpower and a lot more to do with something else going on inside of you.
But before I reveal exactly what and how, I want to address that inner voice that is telling you right now…
“I like Food, but I’m NO Addict”
You might not want to hear it, but I’ve got some tough love for you today…
Just like with drug addiction, the first step is to admit that you may have a problem.
But should you feel at fault?
It turns out you may not be to blame. The culprit could be your brain chemistry. And more specifically, the way chemicals in your brain respond to the foods you eat.
Brain Chemicals – The Root Of Food Addiction?
You see, we are actually wired to enjoy food.
There is a part of our brain known as the hedonic center that controls our reward response.
And this part of the brain gives us a reward when we do things that are beneficial to our survival, - which includes EATING.
The problem lies with the foods that we choose to eat and the perpetual brain chemical induced dependency some of them cause.
For instance, processed foods high in sugar, salt, wheat, and/or fat increase our reward response in a way that is similar to that of drug usage.
In fact, some studies suggest that high sugar foods actually increase our reward response more than cocaine!
Now here’s something even more interesting…
The addictive properties of food have been studied extensively in animals. One study used rats and placed their regular rat chow on one side of the cage. On the other side of the cage was a food source that would mimic a meal from a fast food restaurant.
Now what was shocking was that these rats would go through extreme temperatures and electric shock just to eat the food that mimicked a McDonald’s Big Mac!
Have you ever gone out of your way to get one of your favorite snacks?
And do you think that the big food companies are NOT aware of this? Of course they are, and they have teams of food scientists trying to increase what is known as the “hyper-palatability” of (processed) food.
How To Fight Food Addiction
What can you do to curb this addiction and get yourself to choose the right foods?
Do you need to check into a rehab center?
Nope – it’s much simpler and more pleasant than that. Start by going back to the basics. Embrace clean eating, then fight addiction with the addition of these three easy steps…
1- Go To Sleep
Studies have shown that even one night of sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in eating.
You see, the fatigue caused by limited sleep can lead us to make poor food choices. Your body knows it needs energy. Willpower drops.
And the reality is that when we’re fatigued, we’re less likely to chop up veggies or prepare a healthy meal - we go for a quick fix.
And the quick fixes are often times sugary treats.
(The fast food industry profits immensely on our fatigued decision making, and if their bank accounts are any measure of their success, they are WINNING)
So what do you do?
Simple – get more sleep: Make sure you are getting 7-9+ hours of quality sleep per night. Black out your room by blocking all of the lights. This even includes the light on your TV.
There is an area of our brain that controls all of our hormones and it responds to light and dark. Light at night time can confuse this part of the brain and also drive us to make poor decisions.
Try shutting down all the lights about an hour or two before bed.
Also, a magnesium bath (bath salts) is a nice way to relax at night time. Some research suggests that the majority of us are deficient in magnesium, so this may be able to benefit us in a few areas.
Magnesium naturally elicits a response from our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our rest and digest nervous system. This can help us calm down and get a better night’s sleep.
2- Fill Up On Healthy Foods And Protein
Nutritional deficiencies will drive your hunger response – especially if you’re not eating enough protein.
One way you can avoid nutritional deficiencies is to make sure you have a diet rich in nutrient dense food.
This means lots of vegetables and chowing down on meat from grass-fed animals.
This is a great way to enforce natural appetite and portion control and get your body to use your stored fat as energy.
Side note: Deliberate calorie counting has been shown to fail 90% of the time in long-term weight loss, however, eating nutrient dense foods that are also dense in quality protein has been shown to lead to greater sustainable weight loss over time.
Meat from grass-fed animals is an important piece of this because protein leads to an increase in satiety as well as more stable blood sugar throughout the day.
On top of this, meat can be a great source of clean, healthy fats, with grass-fed animals having better fatty acid profiles (by a long way) than grain-fed animals.
The amino acids in healthy meat also contain precursors for brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
And one Food Addiction Theory (Reward Deficiency Syndrome) proposes that when you become deficient in one of these neurotransmitters (from grass-fed protein sources), you have a higher chance of seeking out substances to “balance you out.”
Or in other words…
You will tend to seek out substances like sugary treats that give you that quick fix. A dopamine kick to your brain.
So make that clean protein a priority at every meal, and focus on the NUTRIENT DENSITY of the food you eat.
Micronutrient status (how your body perceives your levels of essential vitamins and minerals) can also directly lead to cravings. If you are short on an essential vitamin in your body, your body says “go eat!”
Of course, what it wants you to do, is go eat something healthy, natural, unprocessed and nutrient dense!
(Food is first, but why do you think Athletic Greens works so well to help reduce cravings? Nutrient density city)
3- Manage Your Stress
This is VITAL for every aspect of your health.
You probably already realize that stress can literally drive your food cravings – we all experience this.
That’s why it’s important to take time out of your day for YOU and ONLY YOU…
What you do with that time is up to you, however, I urge you to incorporate something that helps you manage the daily stress we all experience.
Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are a few ways that you can directly decrease your stress.
Personally I take long walks and listen to something intellectually stimulating or relaxing.
It’s Up To You
If you suffer from food addictions like so many people, and you’ve read this far, then you’ve already taken the first step in making yourself aware of how you can take control.
Ultimately, you need to commit to yourself and your health and address these areas to take back your health and fight food addiction.
Accept that you are in a fight against food addiction - and go beat it!
“100% Focus On Happiness”
That is my mantra, and it starts with phenomenal health.