Food cravings are no joke.
Sugar addiction is real.
It creates physical and emotional dependence on sugary foods and drinks, processed foods and refined grains. Our bodies metabolize those foods into glucose. SUGAR.
Cravings can turn what started out as a good day into one of frustration, recriminations, and disgust.
They can lead to binging, purging and disordered eating
Cravings are powerful forces that hijack your brain and make it nearly impossible to resist temptation.
Here’s my short list of the foods I used to crave: Pizza. Crusty sourdough bread with butter. Ice cream. Crunchy cookies. Pretzels. Potato chips. McDonald’s french fries. Nachos. Tortilla chips. Margaritas. Wine. Chocolate candies of all sorts, but particularly those with nuts.
I used to LOVE Cheese-its crackers accompanied by a tall glass of cold skim milk. This, in fact, was my favorite snack since childhood. Well, who am I kidding. Snack? In college, I could easily have make an entire meal out of a box of Cheese-its and a carton of milk.
These foods where my version of Kryptonite.
But that was then, and this is my truth today: I am no longer held in thrall by these foods.
I now enjoy the blessed relief of food freedom.
As my 3 year anniversary of eating no sugar/no flour is coming up in May, I am thinking a lot about how this one decision has changed my life.
Saved my life.
Restored my ability to feel at peace around foods I once considered extremely, sometimes unbearably, tempting. And, when I choose, I eat some of the foods on my list of favorites every now and then.
That’s the difference today. I choose rather than am compelled.
You too can overcome food cravings and addictions.
I developed a three part process which I can teach you too.
- Clean up the health of your microbiome by choosing the foods on your daily food plan that nourish.
- Clean up your thinking by becoming aware of your thoughts and how they influence your emotions, your behavior and your results in life.
- Allow all your feelings and emotions to surface. Recognize and acknowledge them. Watch them. Even welcome them rather than resist them. You’ve got a choice. You get to decide which emotions you want to keep and which you want to let subside and disappear.
Start with improving your microbiome health.
I’m developing a healthy obsession with microbiome health.
The more I learn about all those hard-working microbes that populate our digestive tract, the more impressed I am with their power.
Scientists point out that our gut microbes, also known as our microbiota, have plenty to say about our cravings. How is that possible, you might ask?
This article from Psychology Today gives a pretty concise explanation of what’s going on as our demanding microbes jostle for attention.
The fact is, we are being played. Gut microbes are not our “friends”, they are associates that we share meals with but can turn on us at any moment.
They each have their own appetites: yeasts crave sugar, Bacteroidetes enjoy fat, Prevotella love carbs and Bifidobacteria are fiber fiends. They each have their own method of asking for their favorite meal, using variations on two basic techniques to influence our food choices.
- Microbes can produce toxins and make us feel like crap if we don’t give them what they want. So they know how to make us miserable.
- Microbes increase our craving for food that they like by changing our taste buds, increasing opioid and cannabinoid receptors, and producing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. So they also know how to make us happy.
That’s right: microbes use a stick and carrot-cake approach to mold our cravings. They are very good at it, but their benefit is not always ours.
Cravings and Mood
Cravings may seem like a frivolous thing to worry about, but your food preferences are tightly linked to your mental state. As we’ve seen, your microbiota can create many of the same neuroactive compounds that are behind antidepressants, anxiety drugs, and recreational drugs.
These are the powerful levers your gut microbes can pull to modify your eating behavior.
That microbial muscle-flexing can lead to several outcomes, not all of them good.
A well-fed and balanced microbiota presents a healthy bulwark against the nasty pathogens of the world. It can reduce anxiety and lift your mood. On the other hand, crappy diets that unbalance your microbiota can lead to obesity or anorexia, dangerous syndromes that are strongly comorbid with depression and anxiety.
An unbalanced gut may make us avoid healthy foods and instead seek out the junk food adored by some of our more selfish bacteria.
We’ve been under the mistaken perception that we make our own food choices, but ignorance is no longer an excuse: We need to manage our microbes before they make us sick.
It’s important, not just for our gut, but for our mood.
Oh, those fiendish microbes.
You can effectively rebuild your microbiota in just a few days.
Your gut microbiota turns over every half-hour or so because bacteria have a short life cycle.
What you eat changes the composition of your microbiota..
You can begin to override your urges and cravings and rebuild your microbiota in just a few days.
Let that sink in. You have the power to create immediate improvements in your microbiome health.
Of course, the converse is true. Underestimate the immediate influence of those potato chips and fries at your peril.
The article continues:
Still, all is not lost. You can build a better, healthier microbiota in no time at all. Here are some tips to deal with your junk-food crazed microbes:
- Increase the variety in your diet to increase the variety in your microbiota. Diversity prevents a bully microbe from dominating and pushing hard on your buttons.
- Eat more fiber. You can change your microbiota overnight with just a few good fiber-filled veggies like broccoli and artichokes – although to really make it stick you’ll need to eat these foods daily. They will help you crave healthier foods after a while.
- Substitute: when you are craving that donut, choose strawberries instead. We tend to forget how good fruit is when confronted with a glazed delicacy. You may complain for the first few days (OK, maybe weeks), but once you’ve established a healthier microbiota, it just gets easier and easier.
- Exercise, not to lose weight, but to balance your microbes. Researchers aren’t sure why, but it works. Just walking for 15 minutes a day does your gut good.
- Befriend some lean foodies and see if you can catch their cravings for healthy food. Don’t laugh: cravings may be contagious.
We tend to identify with our cravings. We are chocolate lovers or meat-eaters. But knowing how much our microbes influence our cravings should make it easier to overcome them. After all, who do you want to be in charge of your diet: you or your selfish microbes?
Befriend me to catch my cravings for healthy foods!
I’d love to help you find freedom around food, your body and your weight.
Let’s start by creating a food plan to improve the health of your microbiome.
Now that you have a better awareness of how your microbiota can drive food cravings, and steps to take to create shifts, just reach out and make an appointment for a free Strategy Call .
Then we can start exploring how to build a successful weight loss food plan to follow from where you are today to your weight loss goal.
In the next several weeks, we’ll explore how to clean up your thinking and allow your feelings. The other two biggies essential to address on the road to conquering food cravings once an for all.
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