Woman eating burger

Taming Your Fast Food Craving

Are you a fast food junkie? Do you religiously monitor news reports and commercial advertisements to hear the latest concoction your favorite fast food restaurant has on offer? Were you the first to try the Taco Bell Naked Fried Chicken Chalupa? Do you regularly challenge your new friends to Doritos Loaded eating contest? Are you willing to travel several miles out of your way to the nearest Weinerschnitzel to eat “Pastrami with your Mommy?” If so, have you read the nutritional information on that stuff?

Fast food can be hard to resist. After all, how can you compete with companies willing to spend millions of dollars on discovering the right level of crunch in a potato chip? But there are ways to fight back. Read on to find out how you can tame your fast food craving.

Why We Crave

Vanishing Food Density
Cheetos are a classic example of a food with vanishing caloric density. It melts in for mouth quickly, before your brain realizes there are calories in it. The result? Your brain thinks you’re not eating as much as you are and you overeat.

Sensory Response
The brain craves variety. The more familiar the brain becomes with a food, the less pleasure it will derive from it. Fast foods are designed to provide enough taste to remain interesting without dulling the sensory response. This is why many fast foods are covered with sauces and glazes.

Memories
When you eat something you like, the pleasurable response is registered in your brain, creating a trigger. Every time you see or even think about that food, memories and responses can cause cravings, and even physical responses, like salivation.

How To Fight Back

Woman with healthy groceries

Rules and Strategies
Research has shown that the less junk food you eat, the less you will crave it. Your first step in fighting your fast food craving is by cutting down on processed and packaged food.

Try using the “outer ring” strategy at the grocery store. If you aim to purchase foods on the outer ring of the store, you will generally be selecting from whole foods like meats, eggs and produce.

Also, try and follow the “five ingredient rule” and avoid buying foods with more than five ingredients, which are more likely to contain empty calories.

Choose From a Wide Variety of Foods
The brain needs novelty to remain stimulated. If your craving the crunch of a Nacho, you may not be able to replicate the taste, but you may be able to get a similar sensation by dipping a celery stick in hummus. Try and get creative with food textures and flavors to keep things interesting.

Learn To Cope with Stress
Stress causes the brain to release chemicals, like opiates and neuropeptide, Y that trigger mechanisms similar to those you get from sugar and fat. Learn to handle stressful situations without reaching for junk food. Try a simple breathing exercise or quick meditation. Exercise and activity are also great stress relievers and can provide distractions from food cravings.

If you have a mild fast food obsession, how do you control your cravings? Let us know how you managed to avoid the lure of the Bacon Cheese.

Woman drinking a detox smoothie

Feel Better With A Weekend Detox

  Do you dream in chocolate?  Do you leave a basket of fruit on your table when the neighbors come and quickly swap it for the donut box when they go?  Do you have a secret stash of Snickers bars under your bed?  If this describes you, you may be a good candidate for a weekend detox.  Now let’s get this straight.  A weekend detox is not just for the nutritionally deprived.  It is a more like going on a two-day health bender in which your diet and health habits are regulated with the goal of cleansing your system, restoring blood pressure, and getting your digestion and blood sugar back on track.  Sound like a nutty adventure?  Let’s take a closer look.

Why the Weekend?
One thing you should keep in mind is that there is a reason for it being called a weekend detox.  Firstly,  limiting your food intake in this way is definitely not the best way to stay focused in the office and should only be done for a short time period.  Also, you need time to prepare your foods and might end up having to use the bathroom excessively because of the water, tea, and juices that constitute a good portion of most diets. Thus, a leisurely day with some degree of privacy may be best.

The Nutritional Component
The detox menu varies depending on the plan you follow.  The most severe ones are limited to system flushing liquids and smoothies, but more of them incorporate a restricted list of foods.  Here are the general rules of detox eating.

Antioxidants
Eating brightly colored fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans get rid of harmful substances and make them water soluble, so your system can flush them more easily.  Think spinach, kale, and cranberries.

Eat foods with Glutathione
What’s that?  Glutathione is an antioxidant that is produced by your own body.  It can be found in garlic, onions, eggs and foods rich in sulfuric compounds.  It is useful in removing toxins, including mercury and arsenic, from the body.

Drink water and tea
There is no denying that elimination is one of the primary goals of detox.  Water helps you with Number 1, Number 2, and perspiration.  While detoxing, try to drink 8-12 glasses of water or decaffeinated tea.

You may also want to add some  detox teas as  a bonus. These generally contain dandelion which supports digestion and liver function, licorice which expels mucus, and ginger, which stimulates circulation and gets rid of toxins.  Licorice tea, in particular, contains a compound that is 50 times sweeter than sugar, which may help to control a sweet tooth.

Eat Clean
Remember, your goal is to eliminate food that contain the toxins you are trying to eliminate.  Avoid processed goods including fast food, fried food, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, red meat, sugar and white flour.

Parting Notes
Avoid eating after 7 PM and get eight hours of sleep.  This will kick-start your system and help develop lasting healthy habits, or at least, help you get reacquainted with your fruit basket.