A recent commercial for Wendy’s, which is a fast-food restaurant franchise chain, urges customers to “give into the craving and go night mode.” Wendy’s has extended their evening hours to include late night, and they suggest that when we get a late-evening food craving, we can easily give in to it at Wendy’s, now for extended hours. After all, if you have a craving for junk food, what better way to handle it than to go get a quick order of just about everything unhealthy that you can pack into a meal? And since that can happen at night, why not go night mode?
So much is wrong with that — where to start? Food full of fatty animal meat, dairy, processed carbs, and loaded with sugar and salt is harmful. Eating at night, unless you are working night shifts and have a reversed night/day cycle, is a great way to mess up your insulin/glucagon cycle and pack on the pounds — maybe even bring on diabetes. Despite all that, there is something else fundamentally wrong: it’s that we should just give into food cravings.
Just what are cravings anyway? Are they signals that we should accept and give in to? After all, our brains seem to be telling us that we need this food right now — are they wrong? Answering these questions could be more important than you realize. You see, cravings — not basic hunger — tell of something more troublesome. Once you understand the reasons for the cravings, you may find you can halt the typical metabolic syndrome that is causing so many other issues.
Why make it hard?
If you are overweight, you probably don’t want to hear about how you should eat better. If you are sick or just not having enough energy, you don’t want to hear about how you should eat better. Would it be more encouraging to tell you that there are ways to make eating well and losing weight easy and natural, rather than a constant battle? Would you prefer to know that, when you are eating, you are helping your body, so you can feel good about what you are eating?
Remember that your mind is working mostly subconsciously. Ideally it tells you to eat when you really need the food, not when your body has plenty and eating more will just drive up your insulin and cause the excess calories to be stored away in fat. If you are craving junk food, it seems as though your own mind has turned against you, urging you to do what you know is not good for you. You know better, but battling the urges constantly is exhausting, and you eventually give in. Maybe next time you’ll do better. But there’s another problem: you give in and eat bad food, what happens next? Does the craving stop after a bite or two? Probably the opposite: you go for more. And maybe just a bit more after that. Then you say it’s time for a little willpower, and you push the food away, only to go grab some more in a few minutes. It seems like the craving just builds on itself.
Then there’s stress. Do you notice when you are stressed you go grab “comfort food”? Somehow you feel that if you just eat something you will calm a bit, your brain will be able to solve that problem bothering you or bring back your energy, and you will feel better. What type of comfort food do you reach for? Is it a healthy salad or an avocado, or is it carbs and sugar? For most of us, the first options don’t even qualify as comfort food – we want the sugar. Stress kicks off the bad food cycle and makes it worse.
This is exactly what research is showing, such as published in Neuron, where researchers conducted animal feeding experiments under stressed and not stressed conditions. They learned two things: those that were stressed gained twice the weight of the non-stressed, and the stressed consumed three times the sugar, always opting for the sweet option. They also verified that those on a regular diet did not show the unusual preference for sweets. The combination of stress and high sugar diet was disastrous, causing major weight gain.
In explaining these reactions, the researchers isolated the action of a portion of the brain known as the lateral habenula. This portion normally shuts down the “reward response” of the brain after eating a sufficient quantity of food, so that we don’t overeat. The animals in the experiment, when stressed, continued receiving the brain reward response when eating, so they basically stuffed themselves on the sweetest options they had available. The lateral habenula did not block the reward signaling due to stress.
If you find yourself stress eating, you probably don’t need this experiment to know that you just want to keep eating the sweets and stuff yourself. You’ve already done the research on yourself. So, obviously to control the stress eating, you need to lower the stress. How’s that working for you?
If many of us are caught in this cycle, it should be easy to show statistically. According to a review study published in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, LA determined the statistical impact: “Food cravings account for 7–11% of variance in body weight.” The research also noted that food cravings tend to decrease during periods of calorie restriction, which seems odd since you would expect them to increase when dieting. Also they see a tendency for food cravings to decrease with regular exercise. They are not saying that hunger disappears, but the unreasonable food cravings tend to diminish with diet and exercise.
We see that stress may override everything else and promote the food cravings. Controlling stress maybe isn’t so easy: you need your fast-paced job to make ends meet; demanding schedules, or any number of other stressors are coming your way that you can’t just dismiss. You still have some options. One is to change your perception of stress. That makes a huge difference, because stress isn’t real until you see it as real. It is possible to remain calm even in stressful situations. The second option is more straightforward…
Good eating drives good eating
Sometimes bad choices become habit. We get so used to fast food eateries and a pantry or refrigerator full of less perishable, processed foods that we’ve trained ourselves to keep choosing the SAD diet. But if we try to simply change our habits, resistance seems to spring up from nowhere and we find it’s not that easy.
When you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) year after year, sub-par nutrients are used to build your cells. If you are causing too much insulin to be released too often, you are packing away pounds and building insulin resistance. If you are chronically stressed, you are eroding your body without sufficient rebuilding. You are instead building inflammation, which can cause significant damage over time and even spark cancer.
In other words, poor lifestyle choices are cumulative. Your body is used to your lifestyle, and changes, even good ones, will be met with resistance because you are attempting to change the status quo. Good lifestyle choices are also cumulative. It takes time to unwind damage done from poor choices. If you continue your positive efforts, your body will accept the change. Eventually it will expect the new lifestyle, and backsliding is then not enjoyable: you don’t want the sweet cakes and fast food anymore. Inflammation settles down. Although decades of poor choices do damage, it’s never too late to make improvements for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, stress can override even good lifestyle habits. This study shows that, under stress, you are likely to crave sweets and carbs. If you are living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, are exercising daily, have good habits in place, are eating a living, raw, plant-based diet regularly, that stress is more likely not going to take a deep hold. Plus your body is in better shape to take the stress.
Stress is a health destroyer, but stress resilience comes with eating raw, living plant-based food and exercise. Also hydration: there are studies showing that many of us confuse thirst with food cravings, and good hydration helps reduce cravings. Simply put: the healthy, well nourished, well exercised, well hydrated, not stressed body will not have a problem with food cravings.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
What are food cravings? They are simple biochemical messages produced by the brain as neurotransmitters in response to the environment. And what environment are they responding to? The one you made with your habits, and with your behaviors.
Food cravings — like all other symptoms, conditions, and diseases — are just a byproduct of our thoughts talking to our brains talking to our emotions talking to our body. That’s it in summarized form. So how do you think you will change a food craving and addiction? Is it by making a better habit? Yes, that’s part of it, but remember habits are produced from thoughts from your mind, from how you see the world, from how you see yourself in the world. That’s what makes your habits.
So whether you have a food addiction, or craving, or you have cancer, you have something that is a product of your thoughts being translated in your brain, secreting neurotransmitters, producing emotions, and forming the structure of your physical body at the cellular level.
So it all comes down to your thoughts. Even your stress is nothing more than how you see yourself, how you see the world, and how you see yourself in this world. So the brain and the production of the neurotransmitters, which controls the emotions which controls the body, is all the product of what we think. The only way you can heal an addiction of food, craving or any other issue in your life — including major disease — is to go back to the source of everything: your thoughts, your perceptions, your beliefs, your attitudes, your personality, and how you see yourself.
Yes, you can make a good pattern in your body by choosing to exercise and eating healthy foods, and yes, this will produce positive neurotransmitter function and help minimize cravings and addictions, but the real cause of everything is stress and the biggest cause of stress is your perception of your life, who you are, and what your purpose is.
You cannot heal a food addiction, nor a cancer, without going back to the source: back to the mind, the thoughts — both subconscious and conscious — which produced perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and personality.
Whether we like it or not, we are a product of our environment. But the beautiful thing is we have a free will choice to change that environment and to control that environment so that we receive the outcome we desire.
We have had patients at Revolution New Medicine completely reverse addictions of all types, cravings, conditions, and diseases of all types doing our MBEB Protocol. This program addresses the subconscious stress programs which are 90 percent of the problem, and the conscious stress programs, which are approximately 5% of the problem — then we address the remaining physical issues. And when you balance the subconscious stress programming, conscious stress programming, and physical stressors, you heal: you heal your mind, your brain, your emotions, your cravings, your addictions, and your diseases. It’s the only way to get to the root of the problem instead of just addressing the effects. To address the effects are good. You do that with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes and you will see benefits, but to completely remove the source of the problem you must release the source of the stress, which is the subconscious, conscious and physical factors.
How you see your world and how you see yourself in your world is how your world becomes. It’s time to look in the mirror and see yourself as you truly are not, as you appear to be.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.