A LOVELY poet once described autumn as the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulnesss.” John Keats could have added that for many people, autumn’s also the prime time for reverting to comfort food and falling off the wagon.
Only yesterday I spoke to a lady who confessed that she hates this time of year because she finds it so depressing: it gets light later and gets dark earlier; sunny summer holidays seem a distant memory; and it’s getting colder every day.
Before she started on her Slimpod, all that kept her going was the carbs, and unhealthy comfort food, regardless of what it did to her waistline. The cravings for everything from cakes to pizzas, from chocolates to popcorn, were just too powerful to resist.
Now everything’s different and she doesn’t do that anymore, but she confessed the lure of the unhealthy food has become a bit more powerful in the past week or so. However, she’s aware it’s happening and can stop it now as she doesn’t get the cravings.
But have you ever wondered why some foods are almost impossible to resist?
As I’ve written many times before, it’s because the food industry spends a fortune on research work so that scientists can create chemical concoctions in processed food that plays havoc with our hormones.
Look at the hormones chaos this causes
** Leptin, the hormone which tells us when we’re full and should stop eating, loses its power.
** Grehlin, the one that tells us when we’re hungry and should eat, runs riot.
** Dopamine, the neuro-transmitter that regulates the brain’s reward system, goes into overdrive, targets our pleasure receptors and creates cravings.
So how do the food laboratories create food which takes control of our lives in this way?
It’s all about something they call the bliss point. That’s the precise mixture of sugar, salt and fat which makes our tastebuds drool for more.
We’ve all done it, haven’t we…licked our lips after a super-tasty chocolate dessert and said: “Aaah, that was bliss.”
When that happens, the food Frankensteins have struck again.
Willpower goes out of the window and you’re severely tempted to have another helping. We can’t help ourselves, we just keep coming back for more.
Worse, as time goes on the pleasure we get from bliss food reduces. So next time we have to eat more to get the same pleasure buzz. That’s why people get trapped in a vicious cycle.
This graph shows how that effect compares to eating healthy food.
Not all so-called “healthy” food is what it seems. Award-winning author Michael Moss explains in his book Salt Sugar Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us: “With more and more people caring about what they put in their bodies, the whole processed food industry is now scrambling to make their products seem healthier, and much of that seems to be fakery.
“In their effort to boost sales the companies might reduce the sugar a bit and add in some protein and call it healthy and what’s left is still engineered to be blissful because that’s always the bottom line, it has to attract and wow us, but the product is still highly processed and densely calorific and devoid of good stuff like fibre.”
Beware: ingredients are being heaped into foods that you might not expect to contain them. Watch out for added sugars in pre-made dips like guacamole and hummus, salad dressings, popcorn, raw desserts, muesli bars, canned soups and yoghurts.
What you can do to help yourself
So how can you keep control of your eating, especially in the gloomy days of autumn? Listening to your Slimpod obviously makes a big difference but the most important tip I can give you is this: Be aware!
If you feel a craving coming on, stop and think before you eat. Ask yourself why you feel the urge to eat. Are you bored, stressed, lonely? There may well be an emotional connection that’s keeping you stuck
Is it a pattern of behaviour that happens every year? You don’t have to repeat it this year!
Make a mental note of the motive and the effect the environment might be having, too. Where did this craving occur…in the cake section of the supermarket, at the coffee shop counter?
Being able work out what’s going on in your head is the first – and most important – step to being able to stop food cravings in their tracks.
I’ll be diving deeper into this issue and talking about my food addiction scale in my Live on our main Facebook page tomorrow evening (Tuesday October 19) at 7.30pm. I’ll have more tips which I’m sure many of you will find useful, so I look forward to seeing you there.
I’ll also be posting an IGTV on Instagram later in the week so follow me on @sandraroycroftdavis if you’re not already doing that!
Please do leave a comment below to let me know if autumn is creating problems for you – and specially if you have advice for others on how you keep things in check.
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