In the coming few days, I am going to share with you what causes food cravings and tools to manage them. Everyone knows they need to protein, fruits, and vegetables but few know how to work through intense cravings in a healthy way. I hope this helps.

The issue of food cravings is a complicated one so I will attempt to simplify and shorten the explanation. Functional MRI scans of the brain have revealed that sensory memory food cravings stimulate the same parts of the brain as drugs and alcohol do. The neurotransmitter dopamine is the “driver” behind these circuits and it is one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters. Brain researchers have discovered that when individuals repeatedly blitz the reward circuits in the brain with drugs, alcohol, or high fat/high sugar foods, the dopamine receptors shut down to prevent an overload of dopamine. Because of the fewer dopamine receptors at work, the brain and body “crave” the feel good things it once produced on its’ own and now needs from exterior sources. FOOD in our case is that exterior source.

Another “feel good” neurotransmitter is called Serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for mood and sleep patterns. Research again has discovered that eating carbohydrates/sugars increases insulin and serotonin production. What occurs for many of us is a temporary energy boost and elevated mood followed by a crash as the sugar/carbs are processing and serotonin decreases. With the serotonin decrease, the brain and body say, “we want to be happy again” and what is our answer? More carbohydrates and sugars for many of us! The result for many has been a vicious cycle of up and down mood swings, struggles with weight gain, and the inability to control the cravings. It is very much physiological and overwhelming for many of us but can be altered with the right knowledge, determination, and action.

Intense Exercise Session: Eliminating or Managing Food Cravings

I have worked with individuals that refuse to call food cravings and the inability to manage food intake an addiction. “I hate the word addiction” is what I have been told on more than one occasion. I believe many of us are in denial about this. I have witnessed people lose jobs, hurt relationships, and cripple themselves physically because of a food addiction. I have also witnessed many people overcome a food addiction, lose weight and keep it off forever and enjoy strength and good health for many, many years. I am included in this category. But obviously this will be no easy task. Behavioral change of any kind is extremely difficult but food addiction presents different challenges. First of all, we have to eat so it is not like we can eliminate the “substance” that drives us to the poor eating behaviors. Secondly, many of the food companies manipulate us by labeling foods that are unhealthy for us and help to physiologically create our food cravings as healthy choices. Labels such as “fat free” or “sugar free” are usually tricks to get us to buy the chemically laced foods that produce the dopamine/serotonin response that keeps us buying and eating more. To manage food cravings will require physical, emotional, and mental areas to be addressed and changed.  The guidelines and exercises listed below will provide physical, emotional, and mental methods; tools, and skills to help you  manage the food cravings that have not only led you to the weight and health issues that you face today, but the guilt and shame that accompany the issue of uncontrollable eating.

  1. Practice unconditional and nonjudgmental acceptance.

Many of us feel shame because of our weight and the inability to manage our food addiction. But most of us are hardworking, compassionate, honest, and overall really good people. So the first step in the process is to accept your PHYSIOLOGICAL issue with food the same way you would if another part of the body was in need of treatment.

Exercise: Find a place of silence where you can be alone for ten minutes. Make sure you are comfortable with both feet on the floor. As you sit there, go “within yourself” and begin to develop positive self-statements that affirm who you really are. Many of us use statements like, “I am a good person,” “I care about others,” “I love myself and accept who I am,” “I accept my issues with food,” “I embrace the change that is coming,” “I take 100% responsibility for everything I do and say,” and “I accept my current issues in life as an opportunity to grow and will use them daily for that purpose.” In the space below, write some of the mantras that will work for you and help you to accept your PHYSIOLOGICAL issue with food without judgment of yourself. Remember, you are great but may have areas in your life that may need addressing just like EVERYONE IN THE WORLD!

 

 

 

To accept ourselves, our problems or barriers, life events or anything without a judgment is no easy task. Most of us are so used to forming opinions, judgments, and evaluations about the way people should look, behave, speak etc. that we do it automatically and without thinking. In the space below list 5 areas where you judge yourself harshly on a regular basis and what you might say to yourself when you do this. Example: I am ashamed of myself and looked down upon by others because I am overweight.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

To accept things that you feel are a bad quality about yourself requires love for yourself, detachment from the judgment about yourself, and the understanding that most of these judgments have been taught to you by others. We are good people who may not know how to change our current situation because of this. As a result, the decisions we have made may not have been the best for us. But who in this world, life, or EVER has not made a bad decision? In other words, we as humans are apt to make bad decisions, especially if we have certain behaviors engrained deeply in us. In the space below, write 5 things that you love about yourself. Example: I love how I help others. I love my work ethic etc.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

We also have been taught and accepted the practice in many cases to judge and evaluate others as we do ourselves. In the space below, list 5 areas where you judge others on a regular basis. For example: I judge the way some younger people dress. I judge the way my co-worker maintains his desk. I judge the way my sister uses the welfare system to support herself.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

Exercise: Go to a public place, your job, a public event, or other location where a large group of people may be gathered. Go with the intention of judging someone based on the list you created above. No matter what your initial judgment may be about the other person, take a deep breath and calmly say to yourself, “I accept him/her the way he/she is. I allow them to be who they are without judgment.” Begin to do this regularly with others in your life that you may judge as well. Conduct the above exercise intentionally at least 3 times per week until you can accept others without judgment with regularity. Come back to this exercise if you find yourself falling back into the old judgmental habits you once regularly practiced.

Earlier in this section, you listed ways that you are both judgmental about yourself and things you love about yourself. Exercise: In the space below, list how you can accept the things you listed earlier that you judge harshly about yourself with love. Do not use the word “but” in any of the sentences. Example: I am overweight and I am a great person who loves myself, and I accept both. I am a kind person who has eaten poorly in the past and I accept that I am “human” like everyone else. I accept that I learned poor nutrition habits and I am smart enough to learn new ones.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

http://www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

FIRST IN A SERIES OF WHAT CAUSES FOOD CRAVINGS AND HOW TO MANAGE THEM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *