The mechanism underlying cravings for unhealthy foods is similar to a drug or alcohol addiction according to Joel Fuhrman, M.D. author of The End of Dieting. In both cases, the substance triggers production of dopamine in the brain and the cravings are an urge to replicate the pleasurable release of this chemical. With fast and high sugar foods, calories surge quickly into the blood stream and stimulate the brain. They leave just as quickly, triggering the cravings for more. Slow digesting foods such as beans or nuts, feed calories slowly into the blood and eliminate future cravings.
The following six steps will assist in rewiring your brain to help you go from craving unhealthy food to appreciating healthy ones. Dr. Fuhrman suggests using these steps as a check list of things to eat everyday:
1. Large salad as a main dish including different types of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, zucchini, and/or peas.
2. Beans are a terrific craving antidote because they are filling and satisfying. Eat up to one cup each day. They could be in your salad, a side dish, soup, stews, vegetarian meatloaf, burger or soup. Rinse canned beans thoroughly to reduce sodium content.
3. Large bowl of steamed green vegetables including asparagus, green beans, artichokes, cabbage, bok choy or collard greens.
4. Nuts and seeds including walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seed, flaxseed and sesame seeds. Choose raw or unsalted. Eating nuts with vegetables increases the absorption of nutrients.
5. Mushrooms and onions can be sautéed with other vegetables or alone then added to salads or other dishes.
6. Three servings of fresh fruit including berries or pomegranate for one serving, as these contain the highest in protective nutrients. Even though fruits contain sugar eating them with a meal will dilute the sugars and slow the absorption. Remember dried fruits contain more concentrated sugar, so limit the amounts.
After a few weeks, the natural desire for nutrient rich foods will take precedence over the cravings for unhealthy foods and your taste buds will change and you will have achieved freedom from cravings, making sticking to a healthy meal plan and losing weight easier.
Information taken from *Dr. Furhmans, The End of Dieting.
Did you know:
Diet soda makes people choose higher-calorie snacks and feel less satisfied with food according to a study at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, while other research found that artificial sweeteners change gut bacteria in a way that can promotes weight gain and diabetes.