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Helping women reconnect with their body and achieve well-being

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

Your body is a force of nature, not merely as an empowering affirmation but as a scientific reality. The biological, chemical, and physical forces at play within your body mirror those found in the natural world. This similarity is what makes taming your food cravings a formidable challenge.

If you’ve ever attempted to curb cravings or embark on a diet, you’re familiar with the difficulty, much like attempting to control a hurricane.

Contrary to messages from social media, magazines, and billboards, the struggle to manage food cravings is not indicative of laziness. It’s a formidable task rooted in the intricate design and innate wisdom that shaped your body.”

That means that you are not responsible for your food cravings. It does not mean that you give up in total surrender. Cravings are the foundation of addiction. Like any other addiction, food craving can become destructive to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This is why understanding food craving is so essential.

bon bons in brain

Three things drive food cravings:

  • Emotional eating
  • The pleasure trap
  • Stress.

For today, I am going to be focused on the pleasure trap.

 

Human beings made their first appearance on Earth around 2,000,000 years ago. The advent of agriculture occurred approximately 10,000 years ago. The establishment of modern Western society, characterized by widespread access to abundant food, unfolded only in the last 100-150 years. This context provides a perspective on the relatively recent developments in the timeline of human existence.

From the beginning of human existence, three things motivated human behavior:

The motivational triad: 

  • Pleasure seeking
  • Avoiding pain
  • Conserving energy

It is important to understand that the motivational triad is unconscious and fast-acting. Therefore, it is hard to control behaviors that are motivated by the motivational triad.

To survive as a species and as individuals, humans had to develop behavior mechanisms that rewarded them for behaviors that contributed to their survival. The brain was developed to reinforce survival by rewarding you with pleasure when behaving to promote the motivational triad. 

Food that triggers the pleasure-seeking part of the brain may compel you to think that you are working toward survival and reproduction. Still, if that food is nutrient depleted, then, in reality, you might be self-destructive. 

The dietary pleasure trap:

The dietary treasure trap describes what happens in the brain when you eat foods that your brain was trained to believe are highly nourishing. Your brain was trained to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone, in response to certain smells and tastes. 

a graph

The graph above describes four different stages in your response to food: 

  1. In the initial response, you observe the brain’s response to consuming everyday healthy food, which aligns with our natural design. This elicits a modest elevation in dopamine, allowing us to derive pleasure from the food without experiencing a drug-like effect..
  2. In the second stage, we encounter food that has been stripped of fibers, minerals, and vitamins. This type of food is easier to break down and utilize as an energy source, aligning with the body’s energy-conserving motivation. Each bite from this processed food yields a significantly higher caloric intake, triggering the brain to interpret, ‘There is more energy per bite; this must be good.’ Consequently, the brain releases a higher dose of dopamine, inducing a state of euphoria. You may recognize this sensation after consuming a meal rich in carbohydrates or indulging in a sizable piece of cake. Following such intake, energy levels drop, the mind feels lethargic and relaxed, and a sense of calm sets in.
  3. In the third stage, the brain initiates a defense mechanism against the heightened stimulus triggered by dopamine. This response involves dulling the sensation over time, resulting in a diminished experience of pleasure. Consequently, the brain becomes habituated to the consumption of excessively rich food. Although you continue to derive the same level of satisfaction from food, the richness of the food you are consuming contributes to health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

 

If you know that the right thing to do is stop eating rich food, why is it so difficult?

 

When transitioning from a diet of nutrient-dense, healthy food to one rich in calories but lacking in nutrients, you might feel good despite being destructive. Conversely, shifting from high-calorie, nutrient-deficient foods to nutrient-dense options might register as the right choice in logical terms but elicit a sense of doing something wrong in the hypothalamus.

The recovery process spans several weeks, requiring the development of a new sensitivity to food. Achieving this necessitates avoiding the very foods that initially lured you into the pleasure trap.

I embarked on elimination diets a few years ago, completely eliminating sugar. A year into this dietary change, on a hot summer day, my family sought refuge from the heat in a Barnes & Noble store with a Starbucks cafe. Being a book enthusiast, we decided to grab a decaf, dairy-free iced latte. After just one sip, I promptly discarded it—the overwhelming sweetness was nauseating

The main three culprits that can pull you into the pleasure trap:

 

two powdersSugar

Hunter-gatherers did not have access to sugar, but they associated the sweet taste with high-caloric foods like tubers and roots, such as wild potatoes and burdock. Now, envision the laborious effort required to extract these roots without the convenience of shovels. The calories in these roots were intricately bound with plenty of fibers, demanding energy expenditure to unlock the nutritional goodness from the root. The production of sugar from sugar cane plants began in Northern India sometime after the first century AD. Unlike the nutrient-rich whole sugar cane or roots and tubers, sugar itself is high in concentrated calories but lacks the accompanying nutrients I consider sugar a drug like other white powder drugs (cocaine) because it triggers the same reaction and habituation reaction in the brain.

 Salt

In the modern diet, salt is added to enhance the flavor of our food. However, in historical contexts, salt played a primary role as a food preservative and was a precious mineral that posed challenges in terms of availability. The practice of salt production traces back approximately 8000 years, a brief moment in the extensive timeline of human brain development.

Another significant element in modern cuisine is the well-known food additive, monosodium glutamate. It is utilized in cooking as a flavor enhancer with an umami taste, intensifying the meaty and savory flavors of food. This mimics the effect of naturally occurring glutamate found in stews and meat soups, triggering a pleasurable association in the brain reminiscent of the satisfaction derived from a successful hunting day without the physical exertion.

For an interesting experiment, consider consuming two handfuls of almonds—one unsalted and the other salted. Observe which one entices you to reach for an additional handful.

Fats 

Among all the macronutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—fats stand out as requiring less energy and nutrients for conversion into fuel for the body. On a per-gram basis, fats exhibit a higher caloric density in comparison to carbohydrates or protein, with fats providing 9 calories per gram, whereas both carbohydrates and protein offer 4 calories per gram. In the hunter-gatherer era, fats were primarily sourced from animal fats or seeds and nuts. However, in the contemporary Western diet, a significant portion of fats comprises synthetic fats that are artificially produced and lack the mitigating factors of protein or fiber.

 

By massing with the environment through the creation of calorie-rich but nutrient-depleted foods, we have are massing with our brains.

Companies producing processed foods are using insights from brain science to formulate products with precise amounts of salt, sugars, and fats, rendering their offerings highly addictive.

Now that you comprehend how sugar, salt, and fats manipulate the triggers in your mind, how can you regain control over your cravings?

Tips for taking back the power over your cravings:

  • Sugar is  the most addictive among the three. To break free from sugar addiction, a complete avoidance of sugar for 6-8 weeks is essential. Even after reintroducing sugar to your diet, vigilant monitoring of your sugar intake becomes imperative. Similar to any addiction, the reintroduction of the substance carries the risk of turning into a slippery slope.”
  • When removing a particular food from your diet, it’s beneficial to treat yourself with other foods you love. Create a list of foods that bring you joy and are free from sugar (or other simple carbs like bread and pasta). Dedicate time to preparing meals that not only align with your dietary goals but also provide a source of enjoyment.”
  • Start your day with lemon water, a practice that contributes to balancing blood sugar levels and mitigates the peaks and drops that often trigger cravings. During the summer, I slice a lemon and add it to my water bottle, refilling it a couple of times before refreshing the lemon. In colder seasons, I opt for either lemon ginger or lemon rosemary tea to kickstart my day
  • Eat 2-3 meals a day without snacking in between. Snacking is not just damaging to your motility, it also promotes mindless eating. 
  • Start your day with 25 grams of protein. Protein will keep you satiated longer and prevent the need to snack.
  • Practice mindful meditation and mindful eating. The entire idea of mindfulness is not what happens when you sit on the pillow, but how what you practice when you sit to meditate changes the wiring in your brain. One of the benefits of mindful meditation is slowing down and giving yourself the time to decide with your prefrontal cortex rather than your limbic brain.
  • Practice self-compassion throughout your journey of overcoming cravings. Understand that this is a process, not a final destination where you can simply rest. It’s a lifelong journey with occasional setbacks and challenging days. Avoid harboring guilt and shame over setbacks, as these emotions can hinder your progress by promoting stress, which, in turn, fuels emotional cravings.

Most women do not link cravings, inflammation, and speeding up the aging process.

In my program The Desiring Mind – Food Cravings.

I devote a whole month to understanding appetite and food cravings.

Some of the things that we touch upon that week are:

  • What is Enough? – Understanding appetite and hormones
  • The Pleasure Trap
  • Emotional Eating
  • Stress and Appetite.

If you are struggling with food cravings I invite you to join The Desiring Mind – Food Cravings today!

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Example topics include:

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ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

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Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

Carve Your Cravings

Oct 12, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Feeling inspired? Want more?

Continue your learning by joining the Bee Fields Farm newsletter and gain access to exclusive content that is sure to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Example topics include:

  • seasonal recipes
  • how-to’s
  • tips & tricks
  • farm & community updates
  • upcoming programs
  • and so much more…

ENROLL TODAY

Together we’ll transform your health and reach new levels of vibrancy at any age.

Love, Lior

Pencil drawing of bee to separate text

Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

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