I.Want.Chocolate

This post was written by on-staff writer, Rika C. Williams:

I.Want.Chocolate

We all say that, right? Or, whatever your version of “chocolate” is.

More often than not, most of us crave that wonderful special thing that makes us feel oh so good.  Maybe it’s cookies. Maybe it’s chips. It could be shopping, gambling or video games.   

We try so hard to resist it knowing that it’s not good for us. But, we give in.  Why?  Perhaps you’re thinking, “Because I have no will power!”

Well… maybe.  More than likely, you’re addicted.  I don’t mean just mentally addicted. I mean actually, physically addicted.

Food addiction is real. It can make sticking to your wonderful new diet hell. But if you acknowledge it and are willing to make some small changes, you can stop the addiction!

Understanding how addiction works can be helpful. There are some foods that when metabolized will cause certain chemicals in your brain to be released.  One of these is dopamine, the “feel good” chemical.  The more you eat X, the more you feel good, the more you want to eat X again.  Not all foods cause this reaction, but we’re all familiar with one very popular addictive and yummy one. Sugar. We could get very scientific about the different sugars, but that would take an entire separate article. 

I’m sure you’re familiar with the kind of sugar (sucrose) that is addictive. You’ll find it candy, sodas, cookies, cake, bagels, etc.  Some sugars are not addictive like those contained in fruits and vegetables.  Studies have shown that the sugar (fructose) contained in, for example, strawberries or green beans does not release dopamine.

What makes it even harder to stay away from those addictive foods, is what it does to your body, not just your brain.  Eating foods that have very little nutrients will leave your body hungry and unsatisfied.  This adds to your need to keep eating.  Nutrient dense foods will help keep you feeling satisfied.   Adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes will help in your quest with food addiction.  I actually curbed a craving for chocolate one night by eating a sweet potato.  Craving gone.

Remember though, everyone is different.  We can’t be 100% certain what foods will be addictive to everyone, or what actions will work to take the addiction away.  Who knows?  There is probably someone out there who is addicted to green beans! You know yourself better than anyone. You know what you’re addicted to, and you need to eliminate it from your diet. But if you find that you just can’t get over that addiction, start with some of the ideas here. Everyone can benefit from eating more whole foods and cutting out processed junk and sugar. 

Getting over your addiction is hard. You might have to try again and again. That’s ok! The important part is now you’ve identified it and accepted it and you are on your way!