Have you heard about the “conditioned hypereating” theory? (Check the link section.)
Dr. David Kessler of UCSF suggests that millions of us can’t resist foods that are bad for us because we are slaves to the pleasure-inducing combination of fat and sugar. And because many foods that are marketed as “healthy” simply replace fat with more sugar, we wind up wanting to eat even more, our bodies can’t metabolize the sugar so it turns into fat, and we’re right back where we started. Thank you, makers of “light” ice cream everywhere.
It’s not major news that food can be addictive, just like alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. Look at our obesity rate: we didn’t get this way because overeating is a challenge. The difference is that even at the height of addiction, any logical person can see the reason to stop drinking, smoking or taking drugs: your body doesn’t need that stuff. But you can’t stop eating. The key is retraining your brain to resist those foods that are so unhealthy.
One way you can do this is to stop buying it in the first place. If I don’t put the cookies in my shopping cart, I don’t have them in the pantry later when I’m bored and looking for a snack, hungry or not. So I might eat an apple or a banana, a piece of cheese or some turkey instead.
Of course, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and over time, if I really want that cookie, I’ll go to the store to get it. A little indulgence once in a while is fine, and it keeps us from going on a binge. So here’s another trick: buy or make a single serving. Just buy one cookie from your grocery’s bakery department, instead of a big bag that you will inhale in no time flat.
Or make one of my family’s favorite desserts: parfaits. We’ll layer pudding, whipped cream, and cake, cookie or brownie pieces in a tall sundae glass. You can also use fruit or granola. Get creative. The kids love it because it looks like a fancy treat. I love it because there are no leftovers to tempt me the next day. It helps when I can say, “I had it, I enjoyed it, and now I can burn it off.” And my craving has been quashed.
Finally, recognize that no food should be off-limits. Just enjoy it in moderation. Put a portion on a plate or in a bowl and then put the package away. It’s a lot easier to stop eating those chips when the bowl is empty, even if you know there’s ¾ of a bag left in the pantry. Seeing the portion size makes you feel satisfied faster, so you’re less likely to gorge.
2 years ago