Can You Change Your Cravings?
We all love to eat food that we know is bad for our health and waistlines. So whether it’s ice cream, a slice of chocolate cake or a scone or all the items on a high tea menu we all know these are not the best choices for health. However we tend to prefer to eat these items over a bowl of salad leaves. Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced this! So, losing weight can feel like you’re depriving yourself, albeit for a good cause, but what happens when you are allowed to eat these items once again? If cravings are the issue, then why not address this by changing your palate?
A study published this September, has shown that when individuals start to change their dietary regimen by basing their food choices on items containing dietary fibre and protein, then there is a positive shift in their reward systems i.e. they do not crave these items any more. By completely avoiding processed food items, then the palate will also change which in turn results in a carving for items that are naturally healthier and better for you. Once the craving goes away, then sustaining your weight loss will become easier and here at Natural Low Carb Store we see this on a daily basis.
The Science So Far
Due to the nature and implications of investigating the effect of food and the different reward systems that it activates in our brains, the number of studies looking at the effects of food on human subjects are few and far in between. Hence the data that we have on the psychological implications of food consumption are, for the most part, based on animal studies.
Of the studies conducted on this issue, revealed that when these animals were offered a choice of cocaine, morphine or sugar (in the form of oreo biscuits), these animals always went for the biscuit. What does this say about the processed sugar and carbohydrate effect on the brain reward systems?
Another study showed that excessive sugar consumption led to the animals experiencing a state similar to that shown to morphine and nicotine dependence. Yet another study showed that after a period of abstinence from sugar, these animals exhibited a greater intake of sugar, due to their previous deprived state.
Current Eating Advice
The current healthy eating guidelines advise that to get the best nutrition, one needs to ensure that 50% of each meal is made up of a variety of carbohydrates. However, whilst these items are not usually associated with being sugary, the biological digestion of these items turns them into sugar and are recognised as such by the brain. An interesting study showed that the brain’s liking and wanting mechanisms were higher after consuming a meal consisting of mostly carbohydrates compared to consuming a high protein meal. This want/liking mechanism operated independently of total energy intake. In other terms, although subjects ate a big meal consisting of carbohydrates, they were still hungry afterwards and wanted more, unlike the subjects that ate a protein-based meal.
Whilst reducing the amount of sugary items consumed in the form of biscuits, confectionary, fizzy drinks etc may help to reduce your cravings, this is not enough if you are going to get rid of those constant hunger feelings and the need for a quick energy fix in the afternoon (usually in the form of a biscuit or a chocolate bar or the ideal opportunity to go for a high tea). If you really want to get rid of those constant hunger cravings, then a rearranging of the macronutrient intake in the diet is required to lessen not only these cravings - but also the feeling of still feeling hungry even if a meal has just been consumed!
So how can we help you change the foods you crave?
Following the Natural Low Carb Principles embrace those carbohydrates that are based on dietary fibre rather than simple and/or complex carbohydrates. Protein in the diet is also critical as our bodies cannot store protein. Hence, we need a constant supply each day. Our bodies require protein to build muscle and repair any internal damage. Studies keep showing that a high protein diet helps to reduce hunger and control cravings as you feel satiated for longer.
Therefore the Natural Low Carb way is not only about being healthy and making the right choices, but about having a healthy relationship with food.
Avena, N.M., Rada, P. & Hoebel, B.G., 2007. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 32(1), pp.20–39.
Deckersbach, R., Das, S., Urban, L., Salinardi, T., Batra, P., Rodman, A., Arulpragasam, A., Dougherty, D. and Roberts, S. 2014. Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioral intervention.Nutrition & Diabetes, 4(e129).
Student-faculty research suggests Oreos can be compared to drugs of abuse in lab rats. 2013. http://ow.ly/wpARN
Colantuoni, C. et al., 2002. Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.Obesity research, 10(6), pp.478–488.
Avena, N.M., Long, K.A. & Hoebel, B.G., 2005. Sugar-dependent rats show enhanced responding for sugar after abstinence: evidence of a sugar deprivation effect. Physiology & behavior, 84(3), pp.359–362.
Born, J., Martens, M. & Lemmens, S., 2013. Protein v. carbohydrate intake differentially affects liking-and wanting-related brain signalling. British Journal of. Available at: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0007114512001092.