Do you ever feel like you have no will power when you’re faced with your favorite foods?
At night, when the kids are in bed are you craving the crunch of the salty bag of chips? Are you tempted by the cookies in the freezer? Do you have zero will power when faced with comfort foods like macaroni cheese, mashed potatoes or lasagna?
Whatever your poison, this is a daily struggle for many women and can keep them from losing weight and regaining their health.
For me it was carbohydrates. I wanted to eat nothing but large bowls of plain noodles with butter and salt. Toast and cereal. Maybe for you its sugar in the form of chocolate, cookies, cake and ice-cream?
Today I am going to share with you my personal story and some of the most common reasons that drive this behavior and what you can do about it.
POWER AND CONTROL
When I was 15 years old I wished desperately that I could be anorexic. If only I could starve myself, I thought, THEN I would be skinny.
But I couldn’t do it.
No matter how hard I tried to resist the temptation of food I always ended up breaking down and filling my face until I was sick.
I didn’t have the will power to starve myself so I resorted to sticking my fingers down my throat to make myself vomit. I felt such relief every time, calming my anxiety about the excessive amount of food I had just wolfed down. I had zero control.
Even if your case wasn’t as extreme as mine, many of us feel that food has the control and we have lost all the power.
Foods that spike blood sugar such as bread, pasta, chocolate, cookies and cake are biologically addictive. When you eat these foods the region in your brain that controls addiction called the nucleus accumbens lights up like a Christmas tree! This is the same response that the brain will have when doing a line of cocaine!
Imagine being a cocaine or heroin addict and being constantly bombarded by your drug of choice.
Opening your cupboard door and it is filled with those drugs. Going out to a restaurant and being offered a straw and a few lines to have after your dinner and being expected to politely refuse. Can you imagine? And yet it’s no different to sugar.. but we see sugar and its temptation as something we should have the utmost control over and constantly beat ourselves up over our lack of will power. Sugar is an addiction the same as any other addiction. It’s time we treated it like one.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Like any other addiction, a person needs help and guidance when trying to remove the substance out of their life. For many people its figuring out the root cause of the addiction, for others they may need to detox from the sugar and remove it from their diet indefinitely.
HELP, I CAN’T STOP EATING!
Leptin is a hormone in the body that signals to our brain that we are full and that we can stop eating. But when your metabolism isn’t working well, neither does that leptin signal, which can result in what is called leptin resistance. When you have leptin resistance you can eat and eat and that signal to your brain that says “hey you are full, you can stop eating now” doesn’t happen and instead you keep on eating. Nearly all women that are overweight have some degree of leptin resistance and are stuck in a perceived sense of starvation because their brain is never getting that signal their full and to stop eating. Leptin resistance is what is usually behind carbohydrate cravings, large appetites and overeating.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Eat a large protein heavy (50-75 grams) breakfast within 30 minutes of waking with very little carbs 25 grams or less.
Remove all fruit from your diet, there is a strong link between fructose and leptin resistance. Eating excess fructose (over 20 grams a day) can lead to leptin resistance because it is metabolized by the liver which is an important regulator of your appetite and weight. Eat a diet high in good fats, proteins and lower carbohydrates.
(Remember that very few of people ask for a second helping of steak but you better believe people want seconds of lasagna!) You can read more about leptin resistance here.
MINDLESS EATING & LATE NIGHT TRIPS TO THE FRIDGE
Do you ever find yourself just standing there with the fridge door open not really knowing what you are looking for? You grab a bag of chips or start eating some leftovers even though you’re not hungry? I think we can safely say that we have all been there many times but for some it’s a habit they constantly find themselves doing. This is what I call mindless eating and it can happen for many reasons; boredom, sadness, fear, loneliness and fatigue are some of the more common culprits that drive this behavior. Many people tend to turn to food as a sense of coping to deal with uncomfortable feelings and when those uncomfortable feelings become frequent so does the mindless eating.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Be mindful of your emotions when this is happening. Next time you are standing in front of that fridge ask yourself what is really going on. Are you feeling depressed, are you bored, is it pure habit that you are looking for something to eat? Take a step back and instead of reaching for the bag of chips, write down in your journal or simply be aware (mindful) of what it is that you are really feeling in that moment and soon you will begin to see a pattern. Let’s say you realize that whenever you find yourself in search of food is when you are feeling tired, if that’s the case come up with a plan to get more sleep or go take a bath with a cup of tea instead of eating. It’s all about changing the behavior and tuning in to your body and finding out what it is you’re really hungry for.
As for me I think looking back it was probably a combination of all three of the above and many of you I am sure feel the same way. I can safely say that I feel more in control of my eating habits than ever before. Not to say that I am perfect by any means, there are still times that I overindulge but those times are few and far between.