One of our retreat guests inspired our team so much that I want to share her story with you all.
In 1982, she was 5’5” and weighed 230 lbs. Being overweight was causing her some depression and low self-esteem.
One day, in 1982, she was sitting on the subway, eating a chocolate bar, and thinking about how she desperately needed to lose weight.
Suddenly, in a moment of clarity, she looked at the chocolate and realized that junk food certainly wasn’t helping her lose weight. In that moment, she resolved to stop eating all types of dessert altogether, and see what happened. She didn’t change anything else – just eliminated sugar.
Amazingly, she stuck to it: she hasn’t had a drop of sugar since that day in 1982. For 28 years, she has been ‘sugar sober’.
What is wonderful is that she didn’t set out to cut out sugar for life – she just took it one day at a time.
When we hosted her, she was as slim as can be – not too skinny, but absolutely within her normal BMI range.
The other guests were curious when she declined all raw desserts that were offered – she simply explained that she treats herself as a recovering alcoholic would treat alcohol – not one drop.
“Don’t you miss desserts?” they’d ask. “Not at all – I don’t even notice it. I much prefer being healthy and happy.”
The thought of cutting out sugar completely can be scary when we’re starting a new cleanse. However, every single person I know who has cut out sugar or junk food reports:
- After 1-2 weeks, cravings vanish
- They have a higher level of happiness
- They can enjoy the smell of tempting foods without needing to eat them
- They are infinitely happier this way than experiencing mood swings which sugar contributes to
To learn more about how to kill cravings, have a look at our 3-part series here:
In this final installation in our series on how to kill junk food cravings, we’re going to provide you with some ammunition to strengthen your mental motivation to stay healthy.
Understanding the fundamentals behind cravings can help you avoid detrimental foods. The following are some chemical causes of cravings, and how they can be overcome.
Reason 1: Serotonin Deficiency
Low levels of serotonin are associated with higher cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates. (Source: Dr Gabriel Cousens MD)
Solution 1: Avoid psychedelic drugs, exercise, get sunshine, and take an L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP supplement
The body synthesizes serotonin in the following manner:
L-Tryptophan (an amino acid) –> 5-HTP –> Serotonin
- If you’d like to try taking supplements, check with your doctor first. Dr Gabriel Cousens, MD recommends taking 500mg of tryptophan each day before bed, as it can have drowsy effects. The dietary equivalent would be 100g of pumpkin seeds. He also recommends taking 100mg of 5-HTP before bed.
- A 2002 study published in The Lancet found that the rate of production of serotonin by the brain was directly related to the prevailing duration of bright sunlight, and rose rapidly with increased luminosity.
- There is some evidence that exercise has an effect on serotonin levels.
Reason 2: Too Much Dopamine
Appetite and sugar cravings are affected as a result of ingesting too much dopamine from the following sources:
- caffeine (coffee, Red Bull, tea, etc)
- sugar (desserts, agave, honey, etc)
This is partially due to repeated use of a substance, which causes a decrease in the number of dopamine receptors. (Source: Dr Cousens MD)
Solution 2: Manage Your Dopamine
Evidence exists that suggests it’s possible to repair dopamine pathways through a healthy diet filled with nutrients and abstaining from substances which temporarily elevate dopamine: caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, and other drugs.
Reason 3: Glutamine Deficiency
Glutamine is 1 of the 20 amino acids, and a deficiency can lead to an increased craving for sugar foods, advises Dr Cousens.
Solution 3: Eat more glutamine, or supplement
- Dietary sources of L-glutamine include cabbage, beets, sprouted beans, spinach, and parsley.
- Since the 1950s, researchers have found that glutamine supplements can help to control alcoholics’ desire to drink. If you choose to supplement, Dr Cousens suggests taking 500mg once or twice daily.
Reason 4: Low Endorphins
Endorphins can also play a role in cravings, says Dr Cousens.
Solution 4: Exercise, Laugh, & Have Sex
Engage in activities which increase endorphins, such as physical exercise, laugher, and sex, as endorphins may be released during orgasm.
Reason 5: Consuming too much sugar and alcohol
Sugar and alcohol are highly addictive substances which lead to move cravings for the same.
Solution 5: Eat Raw
Dr John Douglass MD PhD of Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in California prescribed a raw food diet to his patients and saw that addictions to alcohol and nicotine lost their addictive power over people on these diets. (Source: The Live Food Factor, page 164).
Selected Motivational Insights
Here are a few of the findings that have motivated us, at the House of Verona, to stay as healthy as possible.
- It’s possible to change your genes: Dr Dean Ornish, MD, has been vocal in the fact that our genes are not our fate. Genotypes are genes which we’re born with, and do not change. Phenotypes are genes which are affected by environmental factors. what you eat, how much you move, and how mentally healthy you are can make a huge difference.
- Raw food increases IQ: An informal university experiment was conducted under the supervision of a professor, where a control group ate normally for 2 days, and an experimental group ate only raw foods for 2 days. An IQ test was taken before and after the experiment was conducted. Those who were eating only raw foods for 2 days found that their average IQ was increased by 40% (Source: The Live Food Factor, page 165).
- Sugar ages your body dramatically: Dr Brian Clement ND, an outspoken critic of sugar in all of its forms, shares the following on his website: “Over the years, I have spent hundreds of hours viewing microbes and mutagens on Petri dishes. Whenever I added any form of sugar, be it fructose, sucrose, dextrose, etc, every disease was stimulated and grew.”
Last week, we discussed how getting enough nutrients can help eliminate cravings. This week, we’ll examine the relationship between unresolved emotional issues and cravings.
Common Emotional Reasons for Poor Eating
- Depression / sadness
- Fear (of failure / abandonment / rejection, etc.)
- Happiness / celebration
Thousands struggle with deep-rooted ties between food and emotions. It started when we were children, as our parents would either reward, comfort, or placate us with candy, fries, and so on.
Here’s how you can work towards defeating these strong, but breakable, bonds. Before you start:
- Understand that it will take time: Imagine that you have 5 years to achieve this goal. Relax, and don’t put pressure on yourself. If you do, it could impede your chances of success.
- Stop feeling guilty for eating poorly: Remove all of the stress that you feel when you eat something “unsanctioned.” Tell yourself that you are allowed to eat whatever you want, and let yourself experience that feeling of freedom. This way, you’ll begin to install peaceful associations with food, in order to begin replacing negative feelings.
Dealing with Emotional Baggage
Food binging or cravings are not going to end until you roll up your sleeves and deal with the deep, dark, embarrassing emotional issues that you have not resolved.
This is the hardest part. It’s going to get very messy. It’s going to be painful, difficult, and possibly time consuming.
But it’s the storm before the calm. Afterward, you will be left with more confidence, self esteem, and emotional peace. You also set yourself up for a healthier and longer physical life later on – which is a separate article in itself.
Seek a therapist’s help
- Seek out a therapist’s help.
- “Journey” Practitioners are highly trained, highly effective professionals who help you uproot and solve lingering emotional traumas. We highly recommend Annette Nolan’s practice: she has much experience in helping people resolve deep-rooted issues.
Seek help from a trusted family member or friend
- Find someone who you trust, and talk to them about what you’re going through. Request that they listen, and only offer advice when you specifically ask for it.
Attend support groups
- Depression Support Groups
- Overeaters Anonymous
- Eating Disorders Groups
- Weight Watchers Meetings
- Emotions Anonymous
Every professional’s process will be different, whether it’s your therapist or group support leader. The following is an example of what the process might look like.
- Confront the underlying negative emotions. For example, if you eat every time you feel like you’re “not good enough,” perhaps your underlying issue is a fear of rejection.
- Feel that emotion fully. Give yourself a chance to finally deal with an emotion that you probably suppressed when it first originated.
- Think back to the first time in your life you ever felt that emotion.
- In your mind, confront that memory head-on: confront the people who hurt you, what you were feeling, and so on.
- Analyze this memory by seeing it from the other person’s perspective – the one who hurt you. Imagine what the other person would say if you confronted them.
- The goal is to find peace at the end of this confrontation through realizing new truths that you were oblivious to before; an example might be, “the person who hurt me was just jealous of my situation, and was trying to protect their own ego.”
This article only scrapes the surface of what needs to be done in order to solve this problem. Please use this as just a starting point for your own journey to resolving your issues.
We wish you the very best of luck!
Photo Credit: Thomas Paquet
Most of our clients do not eat 100% purely – they usually are 80% healthy, and the other 20% comprises of things they just can’t give up yet. Although moderation is a virtue, when that 20% consists of junk foods, it can result in a rough struggle.
I’ve definitely been in these trenches before, and it took me years to finally climb out. Here’s how I was able to eliminate junk food cravings for good.
The top causes
1. Nutritional deficiencies
2. Unresolved emotional issues
3. Being unaware of the real damage that junk food can do
1. Organic green smoothies and juices
2. Solving emotional issues
3. Learning the specific scientific details about what junk food does to your cells
This week, we’ll focus on #1: nutrient deficiencies.
We always stress to clients that caving in to junk food is not necessarily a willpower failure. In fact, that’s the least likely reason why you are reaching for that item.
It’s much more likely to be a result of a nutritional deficiency (Sources: Gillian McKeith RHN; Dr Russell Martino, PhD). That’s part of the reason why obese individuals report an inability to stop eating: their bodies are literally malnourished from a nutrient standpoint, and are putting out constant signals for them to find nourishment.
The quickest & easiest way to fill up on nutrients
Guzzle down juices or shakes with organic dark leafy greens as the main ingredient:
- swiss chard
- dark romaine leaves
- bok choy
- watercress leaves
- carrot greens (the tops that we usually cut off – keep it!)
- beet greens (the tops)
- turnip greens (the tops)
Mix in low-sugar foods to dilute the bitter taste of the greens:
- lemons or limes
- green apples
Make sure that the foods you mix in are low in sugar: the juice of oranges, carrots, beets, and other higher-sugar items would spike your insulin and could lead to more sugar cravings later on.
Aim to drink 1 to 2 litres of green liquid (smoothies or juices) every day – that means 1 to 2 bunches of greens. Consider this drink to be medicine – just down it. It’ll get better as time goes on.
It is of critical importance to always rotate the type of greens you consume, so that you are getting a full spectrum of nutrients.
This worked for me every single time I fell off the wagon. When I skip this routine for a few days, I feel cravings starting to creep back.
Other foods that help to kill cravings include wheatgrass shots and sprouts. These are both loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. If you’re serious about killing cravings, aim for 3 to 6 wheatgrass shots per day, or ¼ lb to ½ lb of sprouts in salads, shakes, or juices.
What if I can’t afford a juicer?
Juice bars usually have some form of leafy greens that you can juice for about $5 for 1 litre. Some staff members will actually let you bring your own greens and juice them for you.
Try this for a couple days and you’ll really understand why “eating healthy requires willpower” is quite a myth: it’s amazing how you will not even feel any urge to eat pizza, doughnuts, or freshly baked bread when your blood is nutrient-rich.
Next week, we’ll tackle the other top causes of junk food cravings.
Glamour magazine recently put 7 of their readers, who were sleeping an average of 6.5 hours per night, on a strict diet of 8 hours of sleep per night for 10 weeks, and all of their guinea pigs reported weight loss – without having to change what they ate, or the amount they exercised.
A doctor swore to the editors that he could prove that getting enough sleep does help people burn fat, and here are the results:
The women also reported having less cravings, more energy, seeing flatter stomachs and seeing their love handles shrink.
It has to do in part with the hormones that are (or aren’t) produced in your sleep – the more your body clock is disrupted, the more these hormones are impeded of doing their jobs.
Less sleep means an increase of gherlin, the hormone that makes one want to eat more. It also means a drop in leptin, the hormone that gives us the signal to stop eating when full. Also, during sleep, our brains secrete a significant amount of growth hormone which helps our body break down fat for fuel. If there’s not enough, our bodies store the extra fat.
Give it a shot – you have nothing to lose, except for a few pounds.
Read the full article here.