What causes the urge to eat junk food or overeat when in our heart and soul we don't want to?
The first cause is the addictive nature of certain foods. These foods don't satisfy our craving, they increase it. Think of the alcoholic who has a thirst. He believes that one sip or one glass will quench it. Instead, it increases it. One glass leads to another and before long he's drunk again. Many of us are addicted to sugar. Studies show the addictive potential of sugar. Unlike people who are not addicted to sugar, for those of us who ARE addicted to sugar, one slice teases us and we can't resist having more.
The addictive potential of sugar is widely known. But did you know that you might also be addicted to grains? For some of us, grains are also addictive. They create a craving for more, and they often create a craving for sugar. Here's why: the carbohydrate in grain breaks down to small bits of glucose and alcohol. For people who are not sugar- or alcohol-sensitive, this is not a problem. For me it was a huge problem. A slice led to a loaf. A forkful led to a potful, and before long I was bingeing on sugar.
If you're wondering why your craving is so relentless, maybe you are addicted to some of the foods you are eating. I found that by reducing some of these foods and by eliminating others, the craving went away. This was my ticket to freedom from the lifelong problem that was killing me.
The second cause of craving is our emotions. Food is a good distractor from unpleasant feelings and it's a good “sedator.” Comfort food makes us feel good and forget what's "eating us." Often an uncomfortable feeling gets translated into a craving for comfort food. It's widely known that carbohydrates trigger endorphins like serotonin which create well-being. Overeating any food can make us feel drowsy and sedated. Some of the feelings I ate over are sad, mad, scared, ashamed, confused, tired, hyper, sick, happy, feeling deprived, wanting to reward myself, wanting the luxury of indulgence, wanting the love and connection I felt from eating a traditional family, ethnic, religious, seasonal or holiday food.
These were my favorite foods, my only foods. They were my comfort foods. I loved the way they tasted and felt in my mouth. They helped me sedate uncomfortable feelings. They made me feel good temporarily. But the consequences got worse and it became imperative for me to stop. Yet I could not. If it sounds daunting to stop eating these foods, you are in the right place. It IS daunting.
I wondered how people could curb their desire for sweets and junk food. I wondered how people could eat moderate amounts of any food - healthy or not. Did they love themselves more than I did? I wondered why I lacked willpower in this area of my life. Why did I keep jeopardizing my health with food? Why did I keep risking my job by being depressed and obsessed with the food? And why did I keep forsaking my family, who desperately wanted my happiness and my ability to be there for them?
When I was at my bottom, I found amazing support, and I had the willingness to use it. I have learned many ways to curb craving. And I am here to share them with you. I found ways to handle my feelings, to have a full emotional life. I found that healthy food can be delicious food. I found healthy versions of my favorite comfort foods, and now my food gives me comfort AND health.
I found a way to sidestep craving - to avoid the foods that cause it, and to handle the feelings that cause it. I’m now able to have cravings and NOT act on them - and you can too!