We’ve all experienced food cravings, and many of those cravings come from the body’s need for an energy boost or a desire to restore vital nutrients. Once we understand this, we can learn to eat differently so that our bodies don’t have to feel deprived and consequently crave something you are missing. Let’s break foods into two main categories to further explain this point: medicinal foods and addictive foods.
Addictive foods are those that cause an addictive change in the brain, creating a desirable feeling, which later gives way to withdrawal symptoms. By eating too many of these foods, we will constantly crave more and feel unfulfilled. Here are some of the top addictive foods:
Over-Processed and Refined Foods – This category includes enriched flour (white bread, whole wheat, rye), instant mashed potatoes, instant oatmeal and many cereals, baked goods and snacks. These foods are considered addictive because the excess processing strips out the nutrition and refines the foods so much that the body digests them too quickly. When this happens, these foods convert to glucose at a rapid pace, giving us a cocaine-like glucose high that is followed by a crash, leaving you wanting more.
Saturated Fats – These foods are addictive in the same way alcohol is because they can have a calming effect followed by a hangover-like feeling.
Excess Salt – Salty foods are addictive because they have characteristics that make us want to keep eating even though we are full.
Sugar Substitutes – By substituting sugar with sugar substitutes, we end up depriving the brain of glucose, and that contributes to low energy and increased appetite.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – Added to many convenience foods, and occurring naturally in foods like cheese and soy, an excess of MSG over-excites brain cells and the taste buds, causing a loss of self control and more binge eating.
In contrast to addictive foods, medicinal foods actually fortify brain cells, helping us to feel energetic, focused and functioning at our best. These foods provide our bodies with the nutrients we need and they deliver glucose at a slow and steady pace, leaving us content and full for hours. Here are some of the best examples of medicinal foods:
Vital Oils – Vital oils like extra virgin olive oil curbs your appetite for saturated fats by delivering essential fatty acids, which become part of our brain cells, not our belly fat.
Antioxidants – These powerhouses neutralize the free radical pollutants that have accumulated in our bodies, making us more susceptible to disease. Many foods contain antioxidants, such as almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, beans, carrots, celery, cinnamon, garlic, kale, lettuce, nutmeg, old fashioned oats, raspberries, sunflower seeds, stone ground wheat pasta and green tea.
Smart Proteins – The right proteins give us important amino acids and replenish our dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Smart proteins include things like chicken, turkey, lean meats, eggs, low fat milk, plain yogurt, certain fish, slowly absorbed breads, cereals, grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits.