Are you familiar with the “bliss point?” While it sounds like the makings of a spiritual quest in a far-off land, it’s actually something devised in a less-glamorous setting: a food lab. It’s a point at which a food becomes a drug—when food scientists concoct the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat (often of highly processed and hydrogenated varieties) for pure satisfaction.
It’s A Pleasure Principle
After this man-made “bliss” reaches your tongue, you’ll experience a rush of endorphin and a superhuman dopamine spike—a reaction your body would give under the influence of a hard drug. And just like that drug, you’ll need to consume more of the food to get the same response or, eventually, to even just feel normal.
Apart from all of this, it’s particularly hard to treat food addictions because it’s socially acceptable (and often encouraged) to indulge in junk food and stuff yourself silly. So how can you break this vicious cycle?
How To Avoid Eating More Than One
The hardest way to overcome any addiction is to go cold turkey—and this is virtually impossible for the majority of us. Most people believe fighting a food addiction is a battle of willpower, but it can be no less a struggle than that of a drug addict in a rehab.
You have to ease your brain and gut into a gradual biochemical shift to reduce the dopamine surges little by little. This will relieve the stress and trauma related to withdrawal and encourage lasting changes. Here are a few simple ways to break that addiction, according to Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, integrative neurologist and author of The Prime: Prepare and Repair your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss.
Make Simple Food Swaps
Choose real, whole versions of salt, sugar, and fat to calm the cravings. Instead of regular table salt, opt for natural sea salt (especially Himalayan salt, which is chock-full of vital minerals). Swap regular butter or margarine for ghee (clarified butter), and try coconut palm sugar instead of white refined sugar.
Eat Your Fiber
The gut and its bacteria produce 95 percent of the serotonin in your body and just as much dopamine as your brain produces. Food directly alters this gut flora, which can lead to intense cravings and even influence your behavior and personality. Restore that balance by feeding the beneficial bacteria with fiber.
Start with 1 teaspoon each of ground flax seeds and psyllium husks in a glass of room-temperature water. Drink this concoction every other night to fuel digestion and carry out waste.
Use Herbs Like Ashwagandha And Brahmi
Revered herbs in Ayurveda, ashwagandha helps balance the stress response and brahmi works directly with the pleasure response, normalizing dopamine spikes and reducing cravings. Brahmi has been used for treatments of addiction of everything from sugar and food to drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Suck On Cardamom
If your sweet tooth continues to get the best of you, try popping a cardamom pod into your mouth and suck on it until your craving subsides. Cardamom ties into your dopamine reward system, satiating your sugar craving without ever giving in to the sweet stuff.
Meditation can significantly reduce stress. More essentially, it can help get to the root of what may make someone more susceptible to addiction. When deeply entrenched emotions and events come to the surface, it’s easier to understand why you may always be reaching for a certain type of food at a specific moment. This is an important step to breaking any habit.
Go Easy On Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall back off the wagon, because that’s just being human. Don’t let a cupcake binge ruin your progress. You may even realize that those cupcakes just don’t thrill you like they used to.
As your tolerance for sugar and toxins gets lower and lower, the food will have far less power over you. Once you break the addiction cycle, you’ll more likely reach for foods that make you feel good, not those that give you that “high.”
To know more about Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary and her Ayurvedic treatments, visit her web site.