4 Creative Ways to Beat Food Addiction by Derek Carroll
For most of my life, I never had a weight problem. I rarely eat junk food and I maintain a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly. Then 8 years ago, I developed a food addiction. My personal poison was chocolate but any kind of confectionery satisfied me.
My weight began to balloon and my clothes didn’t fit anymore. So, I eventually realized that I had to find a cure for my sweet addiction.
I began to research the cause and find ways to overcome my overwhelming desire for chocolate. Then I discovered that certain activities including eating certain foods releases dopamine from the brain. Dopamine makes us feel happy.
The trouble is, chocolate only boosts your dopamine levels for a short while. Before long, you begin to crave that happy feeling again, and you don’t realize what is happening until you’re addicted to feeding the craving.
So my challenge was to find ways to naturally increase and maintain my dopamine levels, without feeding the craving with chocolate. A combination of four things worked for me.
Exercise is a great way to boost your dopamine levels naturally. Plus it actually increases the number of dopamine receptors, which makes it even more effective.
The type of exercise you choose is important though. If you don’t like the exercise you’re doing it just isn’t going to work. Also, doing the same type of exercise repetitively is far less effective.
Cross training worked well for me. This involves doing a combination of different types of exercise. It works because you don’t get so bored that your body stops sending signals to your dopamine receptors.
I got great results from the P90x schedule, because of the variety and varying intensity levels of the program. If like me, you prefer to exercise at home, this program is a powerful combination of yoga, kenpo, stretch, cardio and more, and it appears to be really effective. Otherwise, if you like the gym, then that’s great. Depending on the type of exercise you enjoy, it is possible to combine a variety of different machines in the gym, rather than suffering the monotony of the treadmill for an hour. Free weights are also a great addition to a home exercise routine. I’ve even written a Bowflex dumbbells review on my blog, as they seem to be the most popular for the home gym, allowing you to have a full range of weights by adjusting a dial.
2.The Magic of Music
Recent studies by the University of Oaxaca in Mexico found that listening to great music can increase dopamine levels to a massive extent. The increase in dopamine levels was so great that regularly listening to music by Mozart, and Baroque music proved more effective in treating patients with depression than psychotherapy.
To get maximum effect, I combined walking with listening to music to boost my dopamine levels first thing in the morning.
3. Dopamine Power Foods
Improving your diet can dramatically increase your dopamine levels. And some foods boost dopamine production more than others. Foods you should consider including in your diet include almonds, bananas, avocados, dairy products, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, and sesame seeds.
You should avoid some foods completely as they can actually deplete your dopamine levels. I found a significant improvement when I omitted foods that contain sugar, cholesterol, saturated fats, and refined foods from my diet.
4. Just Have Fun
Doing things that give us pleasure triggers dopamine release. So it makes sense to do plenty of things you enjoy.
It may be spending quality time with friends and family, walking, playing games, taking part in a sport or meditating that gives you the most pleasure. Or it could be visiting new places, watching a live sports game, learning new things, or reading.
The important thing is to allow yourself plenty of time to take part in these pursuits. The more pleasure you experience, the more dopamine your brain releases.
The key is to experiment with a combination of all these things and discover which works best for you. Unfortunately, no legal drugs are available to boost dopamine production to optimum levels. So it is essential that you experiment and find a way to do it naturally.
Illegal drugs can boost dopamine levels but the trouble is they don’t maintain them so another boost is needed. That’s why these drugs are so addictive, and you would be wise to avoid them.
A balance of dopamine and serotonin is needed to maintain a stable mood. According to the Franklin institute, it may be best to eat a carbohydrate meal in the evening. This is because carbohydrates boost serotonin levels, and serotonin helps to induce sleep. And a high protein meal may work best for you during the day, as protein boosts dopamine levels.
I find that a combination of diet, exercise, music and fun works best for me. When I keep up these practices, I’m able to control my chocolate addiction and weight gain. But if I start to slip, my chocolate cravings begin to tempt me again.
It’s worth keeping a diary of your food intake, daily activities and emotions. If you do this before you start your regime and carry on as you introduce it, you’ll be able to figure out where you’re going wrong. And you will also be able to see what is working best for you as you progress.
Author Derek Carroll battled his own food addiction and won. He now runs his own blog, Wise Buyers where he reviews popular consumer products. Derek lives in rural Fermanagh, Northern Ireland with his wife and two wonderful children.
Image: Woman With Apple And Pear by Petr Kratochvil