Have you ever tried to simply stop eating bread and sugar with sheer will power alone? You’ve probably realized by now – that typically doesn’t work, at least not for very long.
There are 3 forces working against us and we should know them by name. We’ll cover the first one in this post.
#1: Refined foods and added sugars are highly addictive, and they’re everywhere
We often don’t realize how strong our cravings and food addictions are until we try to stop eating that favorite food. It’s only then that we see the reality of how much power that food seems to have.
Do you ever find yourself wrestling, knowing drinking a pepsi every day or eating that chocolate croissant for the 3rd day in a row is probably not the best idea, but you graciously make allowance for yourself? “I shouldn’t but, whatever. I can do what I want.” “I’ve already messed up today, so I’ll do better tomorrow.” “I can’t let it go to waste.” Or, “It’s been a tough day. I deserve a treat.”
QUICK TIP: If you ate junk at one meal, DON’T wait until tomorrow to get back on track. Get back on track right away and make the next meal a healthy one.
When you’re craving salty, crunchy chips, cheesy pizza, and warm, glazed doughnuts in the office break room, mocha lattes, or croissants and bagels, there’s much more going on in your brain at that moment.
It’s not just will power that you lack.
These food-like products are quite far from being true food. They might taste good in the moment, but do you ever notice that you regret it more often than you are completely satisfied?
Because these foods are so highly refined, they interact with our brains in highly unnatural ways. So when you drink a coke and eat a slice of cheese pizza, it triggers a flood of dopamine (feel good neurotransmitters) in the reward center of your brain. You’ll want and need more to keep up that good feeling.
And since we as humans like feeling good, we come back for more.
The crazy thing is – sugar triggers the SAME reward centers in our brains as do opioids and heroine. (!!!)
The cycle goes like this –
You eat salty, crunchy potato chips or a cupcake, or a cupcake with salty, crunchy chips on top.
These simple carbs quickly turn into sugar.
This sugar causes our blood sugar levels to shoot up with a temporary boost in energy.
You feel good. Woooo hoooo.
Your body releases hormones to bring blood sugar back down to a safer zone.
Some of this sugar is used as fuel. The extra is stored away as fat, especially around the midsection. Not woooo hooo.
Coming down from such an unnatural high means a steeper ride to the bottom, so now you’re not feeling so good.
You’re energy is low and you’re hungry again.
Cravings kick back in, usually for the quickest form of fuel to satisfy this need. Simple sugars like processed food tend to be the most convenient, so that’s what you grab.
All that roller coastering and hormone releasing, leads to fat storage, more cravings, and you spinning in a hamster wheel – the sugar/carb addiction cycle.
This cycle ultimately leads to mental stress about food, weight gain, serious inflammation and disease in the body. Think: digestive disorders, autoimmunity, cancers, type II diabetes, heart disease…
If you eat what most Americans eat and what the food manufacturers make most available to us, you’re consistently consuming unnatural amounts of sugar.
What happens when we eat sugar and refined foods every single day?
It accumulates. And this excessive sugar intake, over time, MAKES US SICK.
Look, no one acquires an auto-immune disease or cancer from one warm, glazed doughnut. The problem lies in our habits, our lifestyle, and what we do every day – how that adds up over time.
Not to mention, for most of the population, this food makes us feel bloated, lethargic, and generally crappy within an hour of consumption. We just aren’t that in tune to our bodies to realize it. Or, we would rather have our crack food and deal with the discomfort.
Let us please not wait until a health crisis commands our attention.
Know that food companies are for-profit businesses. Making money is their priority – not your wellness. Have you noticed how we have more food products on the market than ever before? How sugar is in practically everything, from pasta sauce to salad dressing to tooth paste? How it’s getting harder and harder to make good choices and get off this hamster wheel?
Food manufacturers understand the power of carb and sugar addiction in the brain. You should, too.
This is 1 of 3 forces we should all know about when it comes to sugar addiction, cravings, and what’s working against us so we can have the power to break the cycle.
Look out for my next post about how our brains might be wired towards food addiction, some more than others. And what to do if you are a person whose more susceptible towards addiction.
Knowing that there’s more to staving off cravings than will power alone, is the first step in being able to do something about it.
So take a deep breath. And don’t beat yourself up too much. This is one wild ride to get off of, especially if you’ve been on it for a long time.
It’s not impossible. You absolutely can do it.
You would be amazed at how much more powerful eating a wholesome diet of fresh, minimally processed foods can be, if you give it a chance.
You would be amazed to feel how much happier your body and mind are on real food vs. carby, fast food, highly processed, sugar-laced food products.
Some people can discipline themselves to cut cold turkey and do it – which is AWESOME.
For the rest of us, we are more successful at avoiding these foods and breaking the cycle if we have a buddy or group of other cranky, croissant-less people doing it with us.
You are more likely to stick with it and leave the scone alone during the week if you know I’m going to ask: How’s it going? How are you doing? What was challenging this week? Where did you kick butt this week?
I’ll hold you accountable and cheer you the whole way through. You’ll be so glad you didn’t quit.
You are more likely to be successful if you have the right tools to support you during a 3-week break from these foods.
For those who have struggled to get started eating better on their own, have given up, or didn’t see any results, this is the guidance and accountability that my 25-Day Sugar Cleanse offers.
If you are ready to roll up your sleeves and commit to 25 days with me to break the cycle and reset your system towards healthier eating, I’d love to help you experience how incredible you can feel from eating delicious, whole foods.
The next class starts March 14th. More details and registration here.
Want to start now and see how delicious eating without added sugars can be? Try one of my favorite recipes for Date-sweetened Steel Cut Oats.