I recently read an article about “Dietary Crackheads and Obesity” and was very interested. Although the term “crackhead” maybe extreme, I believe the effects of sugar, flour, and refined grains have on the brain maybe surprising to you. The problem with these carbohydrates is that when we eat them they induce addiction cchemistry in the brain, which makes us want them more.
Through the fall and winter we indulge ourselves with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter treats and foods. These extremely pleasant, grand meals and treats may fill us with great memories and happiness but they also trigger the reward system of our brains limbic system. Fulfilling the reward gives us pleasure so we continuously seek this pleasure with sugar and refined grains.
How many of us have to have bread with a meal, a sugary drink throughout the day, or something sweet in the evening? These cravings are not just your specific taste in foods but your brain seeking its daily or hourly fix. Whenever we are craving for these foods the addiction chemistry is working overtime in the brain.
Trust me, you are not alone when it comes to eating with your brain. After long days at work or stressful weeks, I feel my limbic system craving chocolate and sweets. Many nights I sit and eat M&M after M&M without contempt. When this happens to you there are a few tricks that can calm our cravings.
If you are like me, I do my cleaning, housework, and chores on the weekend. I also do not indulge in sweet delights as frequently on my days off as I do during the fast passed, stressful week days. Our brain and also responds to physical activity and completing goals. Doing yard work or housework has an appetite suppressing quality and produces a reward much like snacking on high carbohydrate foods.
Next time you feel your reward center telling you to eat that candy bar or have another piece of bread try going for a walk or performing a small task that you are putting off until the weekend. Also, remember you are not alone nor should you feel guilty for giving in to your cravings. The first step is admitting and then working towards replacing the cravings with activity.
Yours in health,
Dr. Justin Hildebrand