You and the sweets in your pantry have an enduring love affair. You’re seduced every night. You’d like to be monogamous, but chocolate chip cookies call you too. You know you shouldn’t be eating these foods in your anxious state, but once you’ve had a bite, you can’t stop. You would love to be able to control what you eat but it feels like something within you is making you continue to eat.
It’s not a matter of a willpower issue, so no need to feel guilty anymore. This occurs as a result of your brain chemistry via neurotransmitters and conditioning. The good news is that you have the power to over come these urges and temptations. Being aware of how you operate and what controls your eating decisions is the first part in breaking the addiction.
Here’s a brief background on how your neurotransmitters affect your food habits and tendencies. When you eat a sweet food, it immediately sends a signal to the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for your pleasure response. Dopamine gives a sense of relief. It’s the same neurotransmitter that is released during sex, recreational drug use and flirting. Unfortunately, the more you tempt dopamine with food, sex or drugs, the more your body stops listening to it. This results in needing even more stimuli for the same high. More chocolate, more cookies, and more bread. You’ve been tricked if you don’t think that bread has sugar because it converts to sugar in the blood stream.
The solution is to stay away from trigger foods for 21 days so that you can rebalance your brain chemistry. If you get a little anxious about the thought of it, you’re using food to numb an emotion. It’s okay, we all do it. And once you break the habit you will feel free and in control of your emotions and cravings.
Here’s a brief background on how conditioning affects our food habits and tendencies. Our subconscious is defined by emotional reactions, memorized behaviors, beliefs and attitudes. If you’ve trained your body to cope with your emotions or offer comfort during times of stress with food, that’s what it’s going to seek. This is why it feels like there’s an invisible force driving you towards something you know you shouldn’t be doing.
The solution is to make a different choice from the day before. Continue to repeat it until the new behavior has become ingrained into your subconscious (typically 21 days). Don’t underestimate how challenging this will be. Even if you’ve had a tough day and you convince yourself that you deserve just one bite, don’t listen to your inner voice. The brain does this because it has to create new brain cells and new neural pathways to create a new habit, which is work for the body, and it doesn’t like it.
Reprogramming neurotransmitters and re-conditioning your stress and emotional response requires a lot of energy and focus so it’s important to be in a healthy mind space and to keep a positive mind frame throughout your reconditioning and reprogramming process.
The best thing to do to help build new food habits is to create simple and delicious meals that you look forward to eating and that you know that you will enjoy and savour. Getting outside of your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner routines, will help you get excited about your meals as opposed to resorting to your pick-me-up snacks. Trying nutritious variations of foods that aren’t as healthy for you, like this Wholesome Pizza Pie made with buckwheat and almond flour is a great substitution. Or something as simple as a chia pudding will do just that! The best part is that you can change up the toppings to make different chia puddings every week.
It is light, filling and you can literally add anything to it. I’ve been enjoying it as my breakfast all week. My go to toppings this week has been homemade granola, blueberries, and fresh figs (I’m still holding on to summer for as long as I can). When you make meals fun and enticing to eat, you won’t even think twice about dumping chocolate, the (old) love of your life.
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cups almond or coconut milk
How to Make:
- Add chia pudding and milk to a mason jar and shake
- Shake the jar or use a spoon to get rid of the chia clumps
- Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to gelatinize
- When ready to eat add suggested toppings
- Makes enough for 2-3 servings and will last in the fridge for up to a week
- fruit (banana will add some sweetness)
- maple syrup
- coconut flakes
- cacao nibs