30 Day Physical, Spiritual and Emotional Make-Over – Day 4
Day 4 – How We See Food
The way that we see food, causes us to make the decisions that we do when we eat. Our brain is affected by the food that we eat the same way that an addict is affected by the drug that they use. When we eat food our body rewards us for making a life saving decision, so our brain releases the chemical dopamine. This chemical makes us feel pleasure and happiness. When we eat an orange or a piece of chicken our body releases a small amount of dopamine, but, when we eat junk food, like a piece of cake, our body releases a lot of dopamine, causing us to relate pleasure to eating junk food. This type of release causes us to crave foods that are not good for our bodies.
The Need to Regulate Dopamine
If you keep eating a lot of junk food, your body releases more and more dopamine. When the levels get to high our body starts to regulate the amount of dopamine released, each time that we eat junk food. We start to crave the high that we once knew when we ate certain foods, so we start to eat more junk food to reach the same level of pleasure that we had before. This leads to over eating and food habits that are not healthy for our bodies.
Craving something is the beginning of an addiction. I have an addiction to coffee. My brain tells me that I need to drink coffee all the time. I have to literally stop myself and say “NO.” I know that I have to drink a certain amount of water each day, due to digestion issues that I have. If I am drinking coffee all day long, then I do not drink enough water. It is hard to stop these cravings, but possible.
Cravings pop-up at all times of the day. You might walk past a restaurant and smell Chinese food, pizza or a hamburger and get a craving to eat that type of food. It is like that for me when I am at a fair. The smell of food is overwhelming and all I want to do is eat food. And almost all of the food at a fair is unhealthy for you, but when I am there, I do not care. So I start to overeat and eat food that literally hurts my stomach. But, I tell myself that it was worth. Was it really?
Other cravings just seem to come out of thin air. You might be watching t.v. and all of a sudden you are craving a certain food. If you are pregnant, then you understand this type of craving the most. Cravings seem to fall from the sky and cause you to want a certain type of food NOW. These cravings can be pretty strong, sometimes they even seem uncontrollable.
How to Control Cravings
Cravings are not a life or death situation, for the most part. You do not want to eat a certain food because you are hungry. Cravings are caused by the need, to get your fill of dopamine, even if you are not hungry at all. Once you realize that you do not have to have this food, you can start to control your cravings. For some people, making up your mind to just quit eating a specific food is enough to stop the cravings. Others have to find different ways to stop their cravings.
1) Get Rid of the Food. You might need to get rid of the food that you crave altogether. If you go to the grocery store do not buy it. If it is in your home, get rid of it. If it is not around, then you can not eat it. I know that for the longest time, if I made my kids mac-n-cheese, I would have to have some of it. For someone that has to be gluten- free and dairy free, it was a horrible combination for my stomach. I would end up becoming bloated and have bad stomach pains. All because I had to have a few bites of mac-n-cheese. I literally had to stop making my kids mac-n-cheese for awhile. I couldn’t even keep it in the house, or I would want to make it. It took me about a year to curb this craving. Now I can make them mac-n-cheese and not have to eat any of it.
2) Take Control. If you can not avoid the food that triggers your craving, agree to take just a few bites. For example, I have the biggest weak spot for homemade donuts. Every year we go apple picking at a place that makes homemade apple donuts. They are so good. They are warm and covered with cinnamon and sugar. I can not resist them no matter how hard I try. So when I get one, I make one of my kids take half of my donut and eat it right away. This way I still get to taste the food that I love, but in a much smaller dose. Find ways to take in small doses of the food that you crave if you can not seem to avoid its’ temptation.
3) Have A Happy Ending. If you are eating nothing but salad, fruit and vegetables all day long, you might start to resent your diet and crave foods that are bad for you, more. The better way to deal with eating healthier is to reward yourself once in awhile, with a food that you crave. Maybe after eating a salad for lunch, you have half of a candy bar. Maybe save the rest of the candy bar for tomorrow. This will also help you to stick to eating healthier foods the next day, because you know that you can have the other half of the candy bar after you eat your healthy meal.
- Keep up with your one food habit that you changed from Day 1.
- Make sure that you have scheduled 30 minutes of exercise 3 times this week from Day 2.
- Pray that God will give you strength to continue on this make-over journey from Day 3.
- What is the number one craving that you have a hard time controlling? Use one of the ways from the, How to Control Your Cravings, section, to start taking control over your cravings.