It’s important to understand that what is sold in most grocery stores is not real food. It’s a concoction of formulated food-substances and chemicals, specifically engineered to increase their craving-power to ensure that people will come back and buy them. We’re addicted to fake food, and there is no reason to blame ourselves. We just have to understand what affect these substances have on us.
Let’s reframe the situation. Instead of blaming ourselves for a “lack of willpower” or being ashamed for breaking down and eating something “bad”, it is important to keep in mind what we’re up against:
- sugar is 4 times more addictive than cocaine
-companies spend millions of dollars each year on research and development in order to make food more “craveable” – aka more addicting
- having intestinal permeability (leaky gut) means that foods particles leak through the immune barrier of the gut into our bloodstream, promoting an endorphin response that makes us desire the very food that’s hurting us.
- our environment and much of the food that is sold today (again, chemicals with a side of edible product), is full of neurotoxins, which deplete our dopamine and seratonin levels, leading to more carb and sugar cravings as well as overeating
My depression, anxiety, and physical food cravings all greatly reduced once I started to wean myself off the convenience store brownies, Saltine crackers, and basically anything with a label and unpronounceable ingredients. It didn’t happen overnight, and it takes effort. But I didn’t add to my workload by piling on mental punishment or negative self-talk – you really are not to blame for this addiction. You can choose to have something better, slowly and surely. The more real food you eat, the better you will feel, and these cravings will be less of an issue.
For now, the first step is awareness. Just knowing what might be in the product I want to eat & how it will affect my body makes it easier to walk away, but not always. Let’s get our learn on!
Sources of Physical Food Cravings
- a micronutrient deficient diet
- hormonal imbalances
- poor blood sugar regulation
- lack of sleep
We’ve all been there. You sleep less and therefore eat more. Your hormones go all wonky and you can’t stay away from ice cream and chocolate. We want to rip someone’s face off if they tell us we can’t eat every 3 hours. We wonder how we can still be hungry even though we just ate an entire box of cereal and 17 snack cakes. Then we feel bad for eating snack cakes so we go for a 4 hour run (I loved the quote from this article: Eating is the crime, and exercise is the punishment). We’re hungry, stressed, and tired, so the LAST thing we want to do is start taking things away. Remember the philosophy of Crowd Out? Add so much positive into your diet, or life, that the negative falls away in it’s own time. Build up to success by sleeping more, drinking water, adding healthy fats & balanced meals to your day, and understanding how certain foods affect your blood sugar.
Adding in real food is the best way to start shifting away from chemicals & neurotoxins packaged as inviting snacks or meals. It sounds extreme for me to keep saying this, but I really can’t stress enough how far our definition of food has gone off the handle. Real food really does taste better, but you have to retrain your brain to recognize what real food is. And when companies add hundreds of ingredients, which they are not obligated to disclose because of trade secrets and patent protection (it just says “natural flavor”), it’s easy to see why we might be tempted by the smell of McDonald’s or the memory of Jell-O at grandma’s. The cool thing is, you can still make gelatin with real food!
Steps to Rebalance Our Cravings
- eating nutrient dense foods: organ meats, seafood & oily fish, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, leafy greens, organic fruits and vegetables – local and in season, and traditional fats from safe sources: coconut oil, pasture-raised lard, grass-fed ghee & butter, avocados, coconut…
- eating meals appropriate for our own personal health – avoiding foods that spike blood sugar and working towards eating less frequently. Check out the 21 Day Sugar Detox for more guidelines.
- prioritizing sleep
- addressing neurotransmitter deficiencies: read the Diet Cure & the Mood Cure and work with a practitioner from there.
This is just a very basic and general overview of what has been added and changed about our food. I think being aware of how these chemicals have a real affect on our body is a powerful motivator for not consuming them any more. Food Renegade, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and Underground Wellness are all great places to start learning more about food myths and the chemical imbalances in our body due to the modern food system. Follow your interests and what resonates with you, check out my posts on facebook, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Sugar Series Part IV: Dessert has it’s place: in nutrient density
p.s. Treats are still an option when eating nutrient-dense foods ~ they are just enjoyed with greater awareness and less frequency. But once and a while, you can still bake fun things like chocolate zucchini bread with better, whole foods ingredients.