Hardwired for Food: Why We Crave and Cave

Hardwired for Food: Why We Crave and Cave- Have you ever had a craving for a food that you know isn’t really good for you? Something greasy or sweet or salty or all of the above. You know better, studied the nutrition, and are aware of the excessive calories.  

But you eat it anyway. I know I’ve been guilty of it too. So, what is it that drives many of us to splurge now and then and keeps others of us on a short leash constantly?

As with many things, it’s in our DNA. A driving force for survival in a pre-modern world. The question then becomes how do we control it in the modern world. Let’s take a look at the science and rationale behind overeating and food addiction.

“The food industry already knew some things about making people happy — and it started with sugar.” 

HardWired For Food

The Brain Rules

Our brains run the show in every capacity, yet sometimes the simplest things can send us sideways. Take food, for example. We crave sugar and fat in foods, by nature. They excite the pleasure sensors in our brains and, in moderate amounts, help our bodies function properly.  

But, with today’s food supply becoming increasingly more processed and enhanced with these pleasure triggers, many find themselves unable to resist. Some at more extreme levels than others. The temptation and ease of acquisition is too much for many.

Furthermore, the overload can lead to a tolerance to these same triggers, which leads to even more consumption. This behavior modifier has rendered rational people unable to make rational decisions. Their inability to resist is so compromised by the signals the brain is automatically sending.

Much like drug addiction, they find themselves coming back for more.

More Than Self Control

Food addiction is garnering increasing attention from doctors and clinical psychologists as more and more of America’s population near or reach a level of obesity. These problems should not be lumped onto the patient, though, but rather nutritional choices coupled with a clearer understanding of what chemically drives our bodies to crave and cave.

When we address overeating in this method, we can learn to avoid the situations and locations which can prove detrimental. We also learn how to request and receive help, knowing that the urges you feel aren’t unique to just you.

As a personal trainer, I often hear back from clients who tell me how words of support, no matter from whom, are often the push they needed to keep them on track. With any addiction recovery, self control is a defining mission and the right team backing you up in your mission becomes critical to success.

Identifying Food Addiction

As with other addictions, food-based can be hidden from most. A food addict isn’t necessarily overweight and an overweight person isn’t necessarily a food addict. Again, this is your brain telling you what to do, so your brain will start making body side deals or flimsy excuses for indulging. And, because it’s what you want, it’s not much of a twist of the arm.

Indulging cravings to excessive amounts and feeling too full. Going back for more, even though you already feel full. Hiding your unhealthy eating from others. Finding excuses to eat unhealthy or experiencing guilt about what you eat.  

These can all be signs of a food eating issue or possibly food addiction. It’s best to seek the opinion of medical professionals, before making any diagnosis, but awareness starts with you.

Consider your “junk food” intake. You may be surprised how much more often we make the easy or satisfying choice over the nutritionally sound choice.

Support and a Plan

The first step to making healthy eating choices is to design a plan for what and how you’ll change.

Step two should be enlisting a support team to help you on your path. At Tampa Strength we have a variety of training programs for all level of individuals. We start with a comprehensive assessment and design the training program around the person, creating a specific plan of action for each client. Call us at (813) 731-2901, email Shawn@TampaStrength.com, or stop by today to get started.  

Next time, we’ll delve deeper into the science behind why we crave sugars, which is in virtually everything we eat today.  Stay tuned.

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