How to Control Food Cravings

Julia Ross

Here, author, psychotherapist, and nutritionist Julia Ross has adapted the five craving types from her new book, The Craving Cure: Identify Your Craving Type to Activate Natural Appetite Control.

For over 2 million years, until about 1970, we lived on a variety of wholesome omnivorous diets that kept us healthy and fit. But we’re having to fight for our dietary wellness now. No matter the strength of our commitment, we often find it difficult or impossible to stick with healthy eating habits; to eat regularly and well; to avoid reaching for comfort foods or a few glasses of wine, too often. With all the competing claims, it’s even difficult to know what a healthy diet should actually be.

It’s no wonder that we’re having such a hard time. It turns out that the food battle is a biochemical one, and the battleground is our brain. Most of us are now fighting for our inborn appetite-control and losing: Fifty percent of us are obese and another 50 percent are diabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s mostly because not just one but five of our brain’s powerful appetite-regulating functions are being sabotaged by modern commercial foods.

When we ingest increasingly brain-assaultive substances like cereal, ice cream, candies, cookies, chips, sodas, or pretzels, our normal appetite signaling is lost as our brains are flooded with exaggerated sensations of pleasure. Food science calls this the “bliss point” and has learned how to deliver it using the new high-fructose sugars (agave and fruit syrups contain even higher fructose levels than does corn syrup) combined with other addictive substances like chocolate and wheat flour (whose gluten content is actually called gluteomorphin). Addiction science has repeatedly confirmed that these 21st-century food bombs powerfully affect precisely the same brain areas that are targeted by alcohol and street drugs.

Before 1970, when a more nourishing diet was still keeping our ancient five-part appetite-control system fully functional, we enjoyed our healthful diets. But now, the average American diet is estimated to be 60 percent nutritionally void. As our diet has become less nutritious, critical brain functions have become weakened, making the lure of druglike commercial foods even stronger. Notably, since the 1970s, our intake of protein, with its 20 vital amino acid constituents, has dropped by a hefty one-third. Here’s one example of the consequences: When recovered bingers are given a diet lacking in just one amino acid called tryptophan, for just 24 hours, their brain levels of the appetite-regulating giant serotonin plummet, triggering an immediate resumption of bingeing.

Categories Food & Recipes Health

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