You know the apple tastes better, that you should be eating healthier… but that doughnut or that piece of cake just calls to you… it's a silent seductress sitting on your kitchen counter just waiting for you.
Yes, it's harder to eat healthily; your body wants the unhealthy foods, the ones that give you the sugar rush – the ones that give you the quick hit of dopamine.
You're addicted, even though you know you shouldn't be.
The Body-Mind Connection
The fantastic thing is that it's not all in your head; it's something throughout your entire body, influencing you every step of the way. It's in every breath you take, every food you eat, and everything you do.
For a long time, scientists separated the mind from the body, only a vague passing of nutrients signaling anything between the two connections. But, we know it's much more than that now.
Food Is More Than Fuel
For something that takes up less than 10% of our body, our brain consumes over 30% of our resources. When we lack any nutrient, be it sugar, air, water, or vitamins and minerals, the brain feels first.
That's why when you get low sugar, you feel mean, irritated, tired, and confused.
That's why it's so important to feed your body good food. When you have good food, you get good nutrients. When you get the good nutrients, your body and mind are healthier.
The fastest consumed energy source in your brain is sugar. Sugar influences so much in your body and brain, from your thoughts to your hormones.
When you eat sugar, the very thoughts of having it triggers your pancreas to start producing insulin. When you taste something sweet, that production ramps up. Finally, when the sugar hits your stomach, it gets absorbed, flowing through your blood almost instantly. Your brain sucks up a lot of that.
Now, when that sugar hits your brain, it does a couple of things. First, it gives you energy. But then, it starts influencing your hormones, stimulating the production of dopamine which makes you feel good. But, this artificial blast of dopamine doesn't last long and can throw off your natural production. You suddenly want more of that dopamine hit, so you go after sugar more often. Many doctors and researchers say sugar behaves a lot like heroin and is twice as hard to get off.
So, Why Do You Want The Stuff That Hurts You?
The big area of research right now is the connection between your gut and your brain. It started not that long ago when researchers began to look into a phenomenon called gut instinct. Although they laughed it off at first, suddenly, the research showed that the probiotics within our gut are influencing how we feel.
Several different types of bacteria and yeast inhabit our gut, numbering in the hundreds of billions. Most of these are quite beneficial to us, producing vitamins, helping us digest our food, and protecting against worse threats.
They all produce waste and byproducts that include hormones that can make us crave certain foods. Some of the most prolific bacteria in our gut crave sugar. Candida is one of these, and scientists know that when you have an overgrowth of this type of specific yeast, a person craves sugar and eats more of it.
From your gut, it moves to your brain. As we said before, you get that hit of dopamine from sugar, and you'll want it again and again. Your brain and body learn that when you eat certain foods, like a doughnut or cake, you get a rise in dopamine.
So, between the addiction to sugar and your gut bacteria, is there a way to get around it? Yes, it takes work, but you can do it.
How To Break The Junk Food Addiction
We're going to be upfront with you, this is hard. But, if you look at it as a choice, something you're doing to benefit the rest of your life, it can be easier.
The first thing you have to do is make a choice that you're going to do this – you're going to break the addiction. It has to be something you're committed to. Otherwise, well, you won't. It'll be another diet that you tried and didn't work.
When you decided you will do this, there are two big ways to go about it - cold turkey or step-by-step.
But, before we go into that, let's talk about a couple of extra things to put in to help ensure your success.
Vitamins and minerals – you need enough vitamins and minerals to support your body and give it the resources to form new energy and proper hormones since you're taking away the artificial source of sugars. Upping your multivitamin or working with the nutritionist for a customized plan is your best bet.
Exercise – no diet works without exercise. You have to get doing something, even if it's just going to take a walk every day. It's not necessary that you jump right into hardcore aerobic classes every day, but doing something is better than nothing.
Probiotics - start choosing foods and supplements that repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. There are so many choices out there. We recommend a good broad-spectrum supplement and selecting a wide variety of fermented foods to get more variation naturally.
Now, you can decide whether you're going cold turkey or not. If you're someone who needs to jump into things fully and sustain that, cold turkey will get you the results very fast. But, if you know you fall off the wagon occasionally, you need a little bit of help, or it's just too much all at once, adding healthy food into your diet and slowly eliminating the bad stuff works. It'll take more time, but consistency is more important than time.
The first simple step is replacing unhealthy snacking with an apple. From there, you've got this!