Are you hooked on these foods??

Think you have an ‘addictive personality’ because you crave sweets and unhealthy foods?? What if it wasn’t you?? What if it is the chemicals in those foods that you’re addicted to?? More and more research is coming out about the compounds in sweets and processed foods that stimulate your appetite and create dependence. It’s even in foods like cheese. This is the stuff that the big food companies (that mass-produce 80%+ of the food on your grocery store shelves) know and use to keep you spending your money buying their 'foods' (crap) and deprive you of your health. So do you want to take control of your diet and your health?? Then read on!

There are 5 categories of foods that contain substances called exorphins. These chemicals, once in your body, have an opioid-like effect - which can lead to overconsumption (because it feels so darn good to eat these), addiction/dependency and withdrawal-like symptoms (if you quit these cold-turkey)! Ever notice how you are more irritable a couple hours after having the sugar-laden donut or frappucino??

  1. Cheese - I know, you hate me.. But cheese and milk contain a protein called casein, which when digested become casomorphins. Casomorphins are the chemical (in cheese) that have that opioid-like effect mentioned above. That’s why it is so hard to go vegan!! I know I had a very hard time letting go of my cheese! But I weaned myself off ever so gently and now I eat cheese maybe once a week and can go weeks sans fromage (without cheese). You can get there too! The trick is to wean yourself off in small steps.

  2. Meat - I didn’t see this one coming and perhaps neither did you! But the blood in meat contains proteins (albumin, hemoglobin, gamma globulin) that activate opioid receptors! Et voilà, you’re craving more! In studies it has been found that people treated with opiate blockers reduced their consumption of all types of meat. Interesting stuff!  

  3. Rice and Wheat - I knew about wheat, but rice caught me by surprise! Apparently both of these grains have proteins that have the same drug-like effects on your body. But wheat has 5 types of gluten exorphins, while rice has only 1, albumin. This could explain why one is more like to munch on the breadbasket more so than on the rice served with your entree.

  4. Sugar and Fat - please note, when I speak of ‘fat’ I am not speaking of healthy fats like the one’s in coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. I speak of trans-fats and corn oil, canola oil, margarine, processed, refined oils is what I am referring to. Sugar is addictive and so are fatty foods. So together, the combination is even more addictive!

What can you do about it??      

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lessen one’s addiction to foods that do more harm than good. I am a strong advocate of eating right for one’s body and lifestyle. This is the way to health and wellbeing. Eating right means eating nutritionally-rich foods. (If the box is ‘telling’ how ‘nutritious’ it is.. here’s a hint - It isn’t!! Stay away)

  • Limit (or Eliminate) the amount of processed foods in your home/office This helps you in 2 ways: it removes the temptation of these ‘foods’ and encourages you replace them with foods like beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains like quinoa and brown rice and lean proteins (this last one should only be one fist in size for the ladies and two fists for the gents - more if your workout regularly and intensely)

  • Breakfast IS the most important (and biggest meal of the day) Here’s why - your body has been fasting all night and now that you’re going to engage all part’s of your body - brain, digestion, your breathing will increase, etc - your body NEEDS fuel! Eat gluten free oats with berries and almond butter or a smoothie or try a chia seed pudding or a cage-free egg omelette with spinach.

  • Engage family and friends for support in keeping you honest Let your friends and family know you want to get healthy and seek out their help. Surrounding oneself with people that encourage healthy habits goes a long way to help us keep ourselves on the right track.

  • Rely on your body’s endorphins, above all else Your body is an amazing organism. It can produce its own feel-good chemicals. A good, solid workout. Spending time with your honey. Enjoying quality time with your family and friends. Relaxing on the couch with your furry friend. A soothing bubble bath. All these help your body produce endorphins. So find things that make you feel happy and appreciative and let your body do its work.

Just remember to make changes gradually, especially if you’re addiction involves cheese, sugar and fat. As you limit (and eliminate) these from your diet, replacing them with nutritious, whole foods, unprocessed and unmessed around with, you will see your skin clear up, your hormones balance out, have more energy and enjoy a flatter belly and a leaner physique. How does it get better than that??

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Cravings?? Here's the why & what to do about them!

If you are like me there are times when your cravings get the best of you! I used to feel like crap when I ‘fell off the wagon’ and gave in to my cravings. That was before I knew that the cravings actually meant something! It turns out that our bodies have cravings in order to let us know that we require certain vitamins and minerals. Our bodies are very sophisticated and reliable organisms. What we need to demystify is the meaning behind our cravings.

So here’s what we need to know about our cravings!

Craving Sweets??

Human beings naturally crave sweet flavors. Craving sweets means that our bodies need energy. Sugars are carbohydrates and these can be simple or complex. Simple carbs are turned into sugar rather quickly in our bodies while complex carbs are released slower. Sugar (or glucose) is fuel for your body’s cells. The way to keep this craving from ruining your weight loss goals and your health, in the long run, is to reduce processed foods and increase your grains and vegetables. **Extra sugar is stored as fat which is why complex carbs are the way to go! The grains and veggies will give your body the energy it needs to take you through your day! If you’re still craving candy bars etc, eat these instead:

  • Rice cakes and rice syrup

  • Fruits - berries, apples, pineapples

  • Carrots

Craving Chocolate??

I love chocolate! I love chocolate!! I’m sure some of you share my feeling. The thing with chocolate is that most of what passes for chocolate is super high in sugar and chemical additives and low in quality. It is no longer real chocolate. When your body is craving chocolate it is telling you it needs Magnesium. Instead of reaching for that Snickers, eat these:

  • High quality, organic chocolate bars (60% cacao or higher). A brand I enjoy is Dagoba.

  • Add raw cacao powder (which is real, unprocessed chocolate) to your morning yogurt or smoothie.

  • Raw nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits will also give your body the magnesium it needs.

Craving Oily, Fatty Foods??

A common craving especially after a night out when I’ve been enjoying some champagne with friends! Your body is telling you it needs some high quality essential fatty acids and calcium. I find myself enjoying some of these foods:

  • Avocados - I love these!! They are tasty and have quality, healthy fats and amino acids.

  • Mustard & turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese and sesame seeds - I am partial to kale and broccoli. These greens are great sources of calcium. I usually make a nice smoothie with spinach, kale, blueberries, strawberries and organic coconut oil.

Craving Salty Foods??

Another common craving! When we are craving salty snacks or foods our bodies are trying to tell us that it is lacking minerals. Most people’s diets are lacking in minerals because most of the foods we eat are highly processed and loaded with chemicals. Instead of reach for a salty snack, eat these first:

  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens - these are very high in the vitamins and minerals your body is craving.

  • Use a high quality sea salt like celtic sea salt or himalayan sea salt - these contain many trace minerals that your body needs.

  • Add some sea vegetables to your beans - this will add some savoriness to your dish and will increase the mineral content.

There are other cravings but these are some of the most common and therefore useful for our day to day. Our bodies are wonderful, complex systems that know exactly what they need to look great and give us the energy we need to conquer our tasks! It is up to us to get to know our bodies and learn its language. When we understand what our bodies are telling us we will enjoy better health, abundant energy and age subtly and gracefully! Next time you having a craving ask yourself what is it that you really need. Treat your body like the temple it is and honor your divine self!


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