Do you find it hard to change your diet due to cravings? Did you know that food addiction involves the same areas of the brain as drug addiction? In this article we offer 7 simple and creative steps to change your diet to implement at your own pace. No pressure just ideas and simple heart felt encouragement from us both.
Parallels between sugar addiction and drug addiction
Back to food addiction. And yes, it's true, it's the same neuro transmitters involved in food addiction and many of the symptoms of food addiction are identical to those of drug addiction. Processed junk food, like cocaine, has a powerful effect on the reward centres of the brain. These effects are caused by stimulating brain neuro transmitters like dopamine which make us feel good. But it is an artificial high and does not last. Then we crash and our bodies and brains crave more. Nowadays, the sugar levels and additive combinations in ultra-processed food and processed junk food are purposefully designed to stimulate these neuro transmitters - why? ...follow the money - you read it first here. Well not really, we all know it don't we, but it doesn't stop it being hard to resist! It's the thought we are "being played" that gets me, every time.
Ultra Processed Foods
The most problem foods are those that combine high sugar and high fat ingredients: think cake, biscuits, pastries, eclairs - the equivalent of crack cocaine to the food world and there's just as much money in it for the big food companies (as well as dubious ethics). So, you read it here first, its not lack of will power that's causing food addiction - its the food. And, whilst writing, if you want to know if you have a food addiction, we got you covered with this exceptional quiz from Yale University- YFAS Test.
Before you start, be kind
But what is the best way to tackle food addiction and how do we break out of it's vicious grip? How can we change our diet? Experience has shown us that diets don't work. It may be different for you but perhaps the best starting point is - just to be kind - Q17 of the YFAS test reads: my food consumption has caused significant psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt in the past 12 months - if we've reached that point then it HAS become an issue. "Right, that's it, I'll diet on Monday", is just heart breaking and not a great response.
What to do instead? Here's what I think. Change your way of thinking, change your mindset and address the root issues. Move your body. Breathe. Rest. Put yourself first and really take time to care about you in whatever way, shape of form that looks like to you. For me its find quiet, solitude, reading, writing, thinking. What works for you?
A pace that works for you
Next, start to introduce small steps, going at your own pace and change the way you approach food. And by small, I mean small - I read an amazing story about a woman who made a commitment to simply drink a glass of water every morning without fail. This commitment held and with this came confidence to introduce another step and then another, working at her own pace and making change happen in her own way but secure in the knowledge that it could be done because of her previous success. And you can do it too. Here are 7 steps to help you re-think your diet and approach to food and nutrition.
Take sugar out of your diet
Reduce or eliminate sugary and starchy carbohydrate foods from your diet. Talk about diving in head first! These foods include wheat bread, breakfast cereal, potatoes, rice, oats, milk chocolate, pop, fruit juice, cake, pies, pastry. Its a biggie but its the one that's going to make a profound difference.
Take the veg challenge
Load up with non-starchy vegetables at every single meal. The greener, the better - my secret weapon of choice is baby spinach! Non-starchy and salad vegetables will help you feel fuller for longer so don't stint! You will be amazed at how many different ways there are of incorporating green veg into your diet - add to chilli, combine in stews, hide in omelettes, chop fine and you will not know they are there - and trust me, they work! Here's a great list of veggies to eat freely to help you feel fuller for longer. Read it and learn....remember, knowledge is power!
Eat good fats
Mackerel fillets and sardines, oily fish, kippers, olive oils, coconut oils, duck fat - experiment and explore - another great way to keep feeling fuller for longer. Nuts and cheese fall into this category too but eat sparingly as they can be highly calorific - this was discovered by me, falling into the trap of eating lots and lots of nuts and cheese because they taste great and are a natural wholefood - and suffering the consequences! Like I say, knowledge is power!
Watch your Fruit choices
Huh? Well yes, not all fruits were created equal and therein lies the problem. Opt for fruit that is low in sugar in preference to those high in natural sugar (or fructose). Never ever opt for fruit smoothies which is possibly the fastest root to mainlining sugar known to man - where all the good bits of the fruit that counteract the fruit sugars and stripped out and discarded during pulping! Low sugar fruit includes apples, pears and berries - blueberries are a superfood too - high sugar fruit includes bananas, mangoes and pineapples. Here's a great list of fruits to eat in preference to those not to eat.
Eat protein (but don't overdo it)!
Eat protein at every meal as this too will make you feel fuller for longer. But how much protein does your body need? Expert Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Fat Burner recommends dividing your ideal body weight in kg by 0.8%. That gives you an idea of the amount of protein to shoot for. More than that and your body will turn the excess into sugar and you will be back to square one.
Learn to love water
Drink approximately 2 litres of water per day. Again, this keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Its cheap too. And do-able. Commit to that first 500ml on waking - keep it up, challenge yourself, surprise yourself and with that single consistent win under your belt you never know which of the other seven principles you can bring on board. YES!
Quit the Scooby snacks :(
Stop snacking. Stick to three meals a day. Keep it simple and explore the benefits of intermittent fast and time restricted eating. Take the power back. These ideas are free and simple to implement although not always easy.
The good news is that there are many who have gone before us and if you look carefully, they are all waving their encouragement from the other side of the river! And the water sure looks good over there. Take your time to implement each one of these 7 steps to change your diet at your own pace and in your own order and in this way, the lasting change you long for will not be long coming.
Let us know how you get on with implementing these changes - we would love to hear your progress! Email us at email@example.com or leave a message in the comments section below!
Need more help? Check out our weight loss & sugar addiction recovery services at: Sugarsaddictive.com