You know the goodies I am talking about: the sugary, creamy, salty, crunchy ones! These snacks and meals are full of preservatives goodies and are like a piece of crack to our brain. It not only overrides the full signal, it creates a loss of dopamine, our feel food chemical in the brain.
Tie this all together and you have the recipe for over-indulging on food items that gives us NO nutrient value, as well as adds stress and inflammation to our body.
Think of it like this: You open a bag of M&Ms and you say you will only have a few, but you end up eating the entire bag…and still want more! This isn’t lack of will power, it’s a certain type of food that is called hyperpalatable: “foods that drive us to overeat”, says Brian St. Pierre in his latest article on brain health for Precision Nutrition.
NO SHUTOFF SWITCH
This magical mix is rarely found in whole foods from nature. It is concocted with fat, sugar, white flours, salt and more. It is highly processed foods like cakes, cookies, pastries, pizza, fried foods, ice cream, caramel and milk chocolate.
These foods are semi-addictive and have more energy than we can use up. Sometimes after eating, we can feel hungry again right away! We don’t get satisfied like we do when we eat a whole food item.
Over time, if we eat foods like this daily, we might inflame the parts or our brain that regulate our food intake and energy output.
Getting too much energy from foods like this can injure our brains neurons, causing inflammation throughout our system. There is also evidence that consumption of these foods can affect the bacteria in our gut.
Here are my go-to tips on how to throw the switch on for a healthy brain and body.
Eat more whole, fresh, and minimally processed foods.
- Slow digesting, high fiber foods
- Nuts, avocados, fatty fish, flax seed, chia- Healthy fats
- Fruits and vegetables- green leafy greens and especially colorful veggies- 4 cups a day
- Lean grass feed meat, fish, eggs and/ or plant sources for lean protein
Plugging the nutritional holes is your first step to helping you cut back.
Eat slowly and mindfully.
- Eating slowly allows the body to release the signals that tells the body we are full
- Eating slower has been shown to help the digestive enzymes to do their job
- Eating slower is great for weight loss as you end up eating less
Eat less processed foods that have the addictive qualities.
- Ones that you have a hard time saying no too are usually the culprits
- Don’t keep any of them in your home- That is your safe zone
- Don’t kid yourself that just because you purchased it at trader Joes or Whole foods that is o.k. Ask; Does it make me satisfied, or do I long for more later that day or the next?
Eat enough protein!
- When you eat more protein, you eat less calories overall and feel satisfied longer.
- For women, the perfect amount of protein is 4-6 palm sized portions of protein a day.
Over time, if you are consistent with NOT putting these foods into your body, you will notice that you crave them a bit less and less. Once you give yourself some space and replace them with nutrient dense foods, you then can put a treat in and be fine with it.
Healthy foods can taste amazing, I know I love very flavorful foods! So I have learned to use spices in most all of my dishes and I rarely bored with my meals (see my recipes on Facebook or my blog for ideas!). As for my treats, I use 85% dark chocolate and add in deserts on special occasions. It’s totally doable, but first you need to take a step back, understand what is happening when you eat these types of foods, and why you are eating them. Then start to plug those nutritional holes and give yourself time and recognize your triggers.
Stay healthy and happy,