It’s Not Your Fault That You Can’t Stop Eating Unhealthy Foods
We’ve all had those remorseful feelings of regret and guilt after finishing that last piece of cake, or polishing off that entire bag of potato chips. Many of us work hard to stay on track with our fitness goals and a huge part of that is the way we eat. For so many of us, we stay on track for a few days and then give in to these alluring cravings of cookies, cake, chips, and pizza, essentially undoing the hard work we have achieved over the previous days of a healthy diet and exercise.
I’m here to tell you that giving in to these cravings is not your fault. It is not a lack of will power, it is not because you are mentally weak. There is a chemical imbalance in your brain, leading to a hormonal imbalance, particularly high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) giving you cravings that are impossible to resist. Let’s back track, about 2.6 millions years ago, to be exact.
The paleolithic era hosted the evolution of hominids to homo erectus and eventually to neanderthols and modern humans. This is relevant because these species were consuming foods that were essential to their evolution. Their brains were hardwired with biochemical signals that told them if something was okay to eat or not. If a fruit had a sweet taste is sent a chemical response to their brain that it was okay to consume, whereas a poisonous berry had a sour taste and they quickly found out that this was not something that they should be consuming.
Fast forward 2.6 million years and here we are with artifical sweeteners and concentrated, processed, sugary foods and beverages. The problem is evolution takes a really really long time. Our brains are still hardwired the same way as our ancestors of the paleolithic era, but we are no longer consuming natural, whole foods. Now we are consuming soft drinks, iced coffees, sugary treats, which are all usually sweetened with artifical sweeteners like stevia or sucralose. The result is a psychological response to the sugar that is 600–1300 times stronger than anything that can be found in nature! Sound healthy? Didn’t think so. This leads to an insulin response that is too much for the body to naturally handle, creating high levels of cortisol (stress hormone). High cortisol levels are directly related to night time cravings, abdominal obesity, and chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high triglycerides and eventually metabolic syndrome, as well as leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling the brain when to eat and when to stop eating. The problem is that if this hormone is working incorrectly we overconsume sugar and carbohydrate, further perpetuating the cycle of high cortisol and more binge eating.
A high carbohydrate diet plays out in much the same way. When we consume an entire pizza we are trying to reach that psychological response that we are accustomed to from artifical sweeteners causing a huge spike in blood sugar again, leading to an insulin response too much for the body to handle (again) resulting in high cortisol levels (again) and the cycle continues.
Bad news: If this way of eating continues you are more prone to facing chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Good news: Many of these conditions are HIGHLY reversible with proper eating habits.
My simple solution: No Sugar, No grains. Eat meat, veggies, some fruit, nuts seeds, avocado, organic olive and coconut oils, eggs. Natural foods! You’ll be amazed at what your body can do if you feed it the way it was designed to be fed. Healthy hormonal function will be restored, cravings will stop, chronic conditions may be reversed, and binge eating will subside. As a result you can now focus on your fitness goals and lose weight, gain muscle, or gain strength, without having to worry about cravings and binge eating throwing you off track.