Why is there such comfort in high-carb and sugary foods? Why do so many people have a hard time taking them out of their diet? Is it lack of willpower? Or is there more to it?
Foods can actually have strong neurological influences on our mind and body. Evidence suggests that some of the addictive properties of drugs are also present in some foods and the mechanisms for drug addiction are the same for food addiction. Theories are that the “feel good” signals in our brains can “override normal self-control mechanisms,” leading to overeating and addiction. Over time, you require more of the substance to get the same “high.” Hormonal imbalances may also effect our addictions and cravings. Having low levels of leptin or leptin resistance may be partially responsible for the infamous “sweet tooth.”
The more “junk” you are used to eating, the longer it may take to develop new habits and overcome the cravings that deter you from overall health. Both behavioral and biochemical changes need to take place and this requires time. For those with a pronounced “sweet tooth” or deeper addiction, even a one-day interruption from a paleo or primal way of eating can be a slippery slope. If it happens, the key is not letting yourself slide down the hill. Stick with it and persevere!
Whether you have a true food addiction or are struggling with minor cravings, while working through a ‘Paleo’ challenge, here are a few strategies that can help you over the hump.
Tips for Overcoming Cravings:
• When you notice an approaching lust for a chocolate-chip cookie, pull out your “Why You Want to Make a Change” list, and/or your goals and READ THEM OUT LOUD!
• Exercise!! This helps release similar “feel good” hormones and compounds that addictive foods can.
• Tune in and appreciate the foods you are eating more.
• Make a list of things you love to do (that make you feel good), aside from food. When temptations, boredom or emotions strike, turn towards something on your list rather than a pack of Oreos. Examples may include: going for a walk, listening to your favorite music, taking a hot shower, playing tag with your kids, stretching, doing 10 push-ups, or calling a friend.
• Add berries to your meal for a touch of sweetness.
• Use spices such as cinnamon (which can also help stabilize blood sugar) and nutmeg that have a slight sweetness.
• Add lemon or lime juice to your foods.
• Drink more water.
• Have a cup of herbal tea.
• Reduce caffeine.
• Get more sleep.
• Reduce your stress levels.
• Use deep breathing exercises.
• Find a support system.
What are some other techniques you use in your moment of weakness?