Can’t Say No?
Refusing treats isn’t about willpower so much as it’s about brain chemistry, experts are saying. When cravings strike, chances are you’re deficient in healthy fats and proteins.
While the brain’s fuel is indeed glucose, its cells are primarily made of fatty acids and its neurotransmitters are built from amino acids. Julia Ross, MA, MFT, explains in this post that amino acids – obtained through the proteins we eat – are used to make brain repairs. Without the proper foods in the diet, the brain cannot correct the addictive signals, allowing cravings and emotional eating to continue unimpeded.
Further, high-carb meals feed a feast-or-famine cycle of blood sugar imbalances. On the upswing, when the body is deluged with a flood of glucose, brain cells are actually “glycated,” or sugar-coated, causing slow or foggy thinking and leading to pre-mature mental degeneration. On the other end of the pendulum swing, the brain is actually starved of its necessary fuel and sends a panic signal for more sugar. That’s when you reach for the M&M’s.
If you could keep blood sugars nice and steady all day, there would be no frenzy to grab that quick-carb snack to quell your energy demands . The key to maintaining level blood sugars is to eat plenty of healthy fats and an adequate serving of protein at breakfast time. Don’t skip meals and evenly balance your carb-fat-protein calories throughout the rest of the day.
Some individuals find that an amino acid supplement between meals can help them fight cravings and make it to the next meal without bingeing on sugar-y foods.