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Episode 153: 6 Reasons You Crave Junk Food All the Time

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 I remember a time when food consumed my thoughts.
The second I woke up I looked forward to breakfast.
In between meals I counted the minutes until I could eat again.
All day I debated with myself about what treats I would let myself have. 
The first question I always had for my mom after school was, "What's for dinner?"
If there were treats at a party I could barely stay present with the people I was talking to because part of my attention was always on the dessert tray. 
Can you relate?
Well back then, I wish I knew what I know now about what causes those ruminating thoughts that leave us feeling out of control, particularly around junk food...

1. You're trying to be too perfect with your diet.

You know the saying what goes up must come down? Well what you restrict, must be binged. 

In fact, restriction is the #1 indicator of binging.

So instead of being perfect all day long or all week long and then binging at night or on the weekends because you can't take it anymore, go into your day assuming treats will be part of it.  

Because I promise, having a small treat daily won't do anything to keep you from your goals. But binging nightly or weekly absolutely will. 

2. The language you're using makes treats extra tempting.

When you use words like 'cheat' or 'I'm being bad' or 'I'm never going to have x, y, z, again,' you are setting yourself up to abuse the foods you're referring to.

It's like the episode of How I Met Your Mother when Barney shuts down the idea of him and Robin ever being in a relationship. Suddenly all Robin can think about is being with Barney.

We always want what we can't/shouldn't have, and we'll go bonkers when we finally do get it because we feel like we won't be able to have it again. So stop turning treats into that 'something you can't/shouldn't have.'

3. You aren't getting enough protein, fiber, and healthy fat in your diet.

If you're body isn't getting the nutrients it needs, it's going to send you signals. But it doesn't have the ability to specifically say, "I want nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, meats, and whole grains." All it can do is tell you, "I'm hungry."

And often when that happens, we end up reaching for processed carbs and sugar because they're the fastest form of fuel available to us. 

And if you're eating a diet that's filled with processed foods, those foods are generally devoid of protein, healthy fat, and fiber, which means they're designed to never really fill you up (it's why you can eat 1,000 calories worth of potato chips and still be hungry). 

When you eat a more whole-foods-centered diet, you'll feel fuller, more satisfied, and be less inclined to over-do it on the treats.  

4. You're skipping meals.

Your body's #1 job is to keep you alive, so when you skip a meal it doesn't know that you got busy with work, all it knows is uh oh, food might be getting scarce

So it pumps out extra hunger hormones to try and compensate for the lack of food, which again will lead you to the fastest source of fuel: processed carbs and sugar.

Also, when you skip a meal your blood sugar drops, and because your body is always aiming for homeostasis, it's going to drive you to eat treats because they'll get your blood sugar back up quick (which is not what we want, since those blood sugar spikes and crashes are what lead to large amounts of insulin, the fat storage hormone, in the blood). 

5. You aren't getting enough of your primary foods. 

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we talk about primary food and secondary food. Believe it or not, the food we put into our mouth are not our primary food. 

Primary foods include: physical movement, positive relationships, fulfilling work, some sort of spiritual connection, personal passions, self care, and fun. 

And when you're missing those things that feed your soul, you're going to crave foods to fill that void.

6. Your gut microbiome is out of whack. 

I feel like I've mentioned this at nauseam, but for any newbies here: if there are overgrowths of pathogenic bacteria and/or fungus in your gut, they can change your eating behaviors to desire more processed carbs and sugar my changing your taste buds, manipulating the reward centers of the brain, and altering your mood. Why do they do this? Because those treat foods are their favorite form of fuel.

And that's just scratching the surface of behaviors that influence our eating habits, cravings, and weight! If you're interested in diving deeper and finding out what it takes to lose weight consistently without restrictive dieting (that we know doesn't work), click here to download my Diet-Free Weight Loss Masterclass for just $27!


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