Do you struggle with junk food cravings? Here is one thing that may help!
When it comes to the cravings that we experience for what are considered “junk foods” you will read thousands of articles that cover a host of different reasons for why we deal with cravings for sugary, fat laden, processed foods. Some speculate that it is due to nutrient deficiencies, others will talk about the problem with food intolerances. But today I want to take a look at how what you think and how your mindset in general can actually contribute to cravings for highly processed foods that don’t contain much nutrient content.
I am someone that dealt with mega cravings for sugary snacks and fast food for decades. But I was also a very negative thinker for most of that time. That was something that I had learned from my family, who had learned it from their family….and so on. I was incredibly critical of myself and an absolute perfectionist. The more I tried to be perfect and the more I “failed” the more I added on to the internal dialogue that played non-stop in my brain. This is the dialogue that told me “you’ll never be good enough”, “you’re a loser”, “you can’t do it”. This constant internal dialogue affected my self esteem and made me feel downright cruddy.
I know that most everyone has an internal dialogue that runs on autopilot in their minds. Well, if the majority of that dialogue is negative and self-critical, it then it creates a great amount of stress which shows up and affects us mentally first. Then the stress becomes emotional as well as we tend to dwell on these negative thoughts about ourselves. Finally, that stress manifests itself in our body physically. Stress can create an imbalance in the body which if not managed and reversed can ultimately cause chronic illness and dis-ease.
We also can have negative thoughts about others or events that create the same stress in our minds and bodies. Think about the last time you watched the local news and got angry over something you saw, or were irritated by a loved one, friend or acquaintance and dwelled on that negative thought for awhile.
Any time you deal with ANY negative emotion, it will create a stress reaction in your body.
So why do negative thoughts cause us to crave “junk food”? The problem with stress these days is that it is very pervasive in western society. We are surrounded by stressful and negative things. The news, the internet, our jobs, our families, the schedules that are overbooked, the constant talk about how bad things are in the world, all surround us and infiltrate our minds the majority of the time.
Add to that feelings of fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, criticism, guilt, shame, judgment that we experience each day and you probably experience far more negativity than positive feelings.
Normally our brains would produce neurotransmitters like serotonin (the natural feel good, antidepressant brain chemical) to help counteract the constant barrage of negativity that we experience each day. But our bodies simply cannot keep up and produce enough of the neurotransmitters that we need to counteract that negativity.
When we eat sugary, white flour, fatty processed foods, it releases a short burst of serotonin in our brain. It makes us feel good….for just a little while. So many of us are drawn to eating that donut, cookie or fast food when we need a mood pick me up. When that wears off, the cravings stir and we find ourselves wanting more in order to feel better again. This is how food addiction occurs and is what is at the root of the obesity epidemic.
But don’t lose hope because here is where the really good news comes in! We can all work to begin changing our thoughts and mindset….and in doing so, reduce our cravings.
Here’s the thing. Most of the stress that you encounter is actually created right up in your own mind. Yep, that’s right….YOU are creating the overwhelming majority of the stress that you deal with each and every day! Not your parents, your spouse or significant other, coworkers or anyone else. You see, you are the master of your own emotions. Nothing and no one can MAKE you feel anything…unless you allow it! So because you have the power to control your own emotions AND your own thoughts, you have the power to start looking at thought patterns and making changes. And don’t you deserve to feel happy not crappy?
This idea was a major “aha” for me! I spent so much of my life focusing on negative thoughts that made me feel totally crappy! And why continue to do that? It didn’t feel good at all! And it didn’t serve my best interest. So I made a decision to let the crappy thoughts go and instead focus on more positive thoughts. I monitor my thoughts all of the time now and when something negative comes in, I stop myself and change direction. And it feels so much better!
The beautiful thing about a mindset shift like that is that when you are focusing on the positive, your stress is reduced significantly. When your stress is less, you will find that your cravings also reduce significantly and quickly and that any nagging health problems will begin to resolve as well. You don’t need to use willpower to avoid that fast food anymore! Simply start changing your mindset and the cravings will resolve by themselves….and you will feel much happier too!
I am going to be doing a whole lot more on how to change your life and your health through changing mindset, so be sure to stay tuned! It’s time for us all to feel happy…not crappy!