Is Summer really almost over?!?! This week’s SSS is something that was a lightbulb moment for in my nutrition journey personally and maybe even more so professionally…
I used to believe a few things about people that could not stick with the Paleo (Keto/Mediterrean/Macro’s, etc…) diet when they began training with us. I believed they lacked the discipline, willpower, commitment to be successful. I came from the mindset that if others can do it why can’t you?!
Since I’ve became more knowledgeable about nutrition, about willpower, habits and cravings I have started to uncover more of the truth as to why we crave the things we crave and why we eat the way we eat.
Initially we think we need to cut calories, give up certain tasty treats and go on a DIET! It is not rocket science to know that fast food, junk food, and sweets aren’t good for you. We know we shouldn’t eat them if you want to lean out, get off medication or be healthier. Yet we still have them because we still crave them. It seems that we feel compelled to eat these foods. Sometimes, we don’t even want them, but we eat them anyway. All the while having a hard time stopping ourselves.
So the two BIG questions are??
1. Why do we crave the foods that we crave?
2. How do control if not eliminate craving the bad foods we want?
Food cravings can be defined as “an intense desire to consume a particular food (or type of food) that is difficult to resist.” Cravings aren’t merely about your behavior related to the food in question — they are about your emotional motivation and the conditioning (habit) that is created with the repeated satisfaction.
A Little History on Cravings
Back in the Paleo day’s (a few thousand years ago) we were hunting and foraging our food in nature. Our bodies would need some way to signal to us that we’d found something useful to eat. Thanks to nature and our biology, our brains have been hardwired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories), and salty (a means of conserving fluid). These important signals from nature helped us select the foods best suited to our health. They were not designed to tell which foods were delicious, they were designed to tell us which foods were nutritious.
In today’s world although the ancient signals persist, but the foods that relay them are anything but good sources of nutrition. This in turn creates a major disruption in our bodies and in our brains.
Over the last fifty years. the makeup of our food has dramatically changed. Our grocery stores and health food markets shelves are packed with shelves of processed, refined food-like products. Food scientists got wise and caught on to the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors (sweet, fatty and salty) so they began to modify our whole foods. They stripped water, fiber, the nutrients, from food only to replace them with ingredients such as corn syrup, MSG, artificial sweeteners, etc… All of these specific intention to induce cravings and overconsumption which create bigger profits for food manufacturers. Moreover, these foods light up pleasure and reward centers in our brain for a different reasons than nature intended. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.
Truth Be Told
In nature, sweet tastes usually came from seasonal raw fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Today, sweet flavors come from artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. In nature, fatty tastes usually came from meats, especially nutrient-packed organ meats. In modern times, fats come from a deep-fryer or a tub of “spread.” In nature, precious electrolytes like sodium came from sea life, or from the animals we ate. In modern times, salt comes from a shaker.
Modern technology has stripped the nutrition from those foods, replacing it with empty calories and synthetic chemicals that fool our bodies into giving us the same powerful biological signals to keep eating. More calories with less nutrition is a recipe for disaster!
Understanding where our cravings come from is a start. Now it is time to reconnect delicious, rewarding food with the nutrition and satiety that nature intended. This the key to changing these habits. The best way to begin this life change is by simply eating the correct types of proteins, carbs and fats. The more and more we begin to incorporate them back into your diet our hormones, signals and cravings will begin to balance back and reduce the ‘bad’ cravings. You will begin to look, feel and perform better. Use those emotions as your driving force to continue to discipline yourself on the road to health and ELITE FITness.
What hits home the most to you about cravings? Post to the comments below.