Understand How Food Affects Your Health And Mood

You might see cake and doughnuts as “unhealthy food.” But in reality, it should hardly be considered food at all. Your body doesn’t know what to do with it. Food is what comes out of the ground, perfectly designed to fuel your body. It has the nutrients that your body needs every day. Your body uses those nutrients as tools and building blocks to make feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Along with every other chemical that allows your body to function.

Junk food is lacking those nutrients. It triggers inflammation, which causes many problems in your body. Inflammation affects the part of your brain that’s responsible for motivation and anxiety. It even reduces dopamine and serotonin. Unhealthy foods will make you anxious, lazy, and unhappy in the long run. Inflammation also disrupts the hormones that suppress your appetite. Eating inflammatory junk food ends up making you more hungry. Additionally, chronic inflammation leads to diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Don’t think of healthy food as a way to deprive yourself of a good time. Don’t think that eating vegetables once a week is enough to reverse the damage you’ve done for the last decades. The nutrients in natural foods are what your body needs to function every day to keep you from being fat, sick, lazy, and anxious. This is not to say, you have to be perfect all the time. Just try to eat mostly natural foods in order to supply your body with the nutrients you need for your physical and emotional health.

Make New Associations

Whether or not you realize it, you’ve made associations with different foods throughout your life. Those associations affect your choices. If you have a hard time choosing something healthy, it is probably because you think of it as a form of self-discipline. If you always think of healthy foods that way, you’ll never enjoy them. If you don’t enjoy them, you won’t choose them.

Now you’re forming new associations with healthy foods as you understand the positive impact they have on your mood, health, and waistline. It’s not as though you’re going to feel the same way about a salad as you would a bowl of pasta, however, you’ll appreciate it much more than you used to.

At the same time, your associations with junk foods are changing. Before, you probably thought of them as the “forbidden fruit,” which makes them even more desirable. Now you understand that nothing is off-limits. There’s always a time and a place to indulge. When you have a craving, you realize that you don’t just want it for the taste. The craving is from the reward center of your brain, tricking you with dopamine and stress hormones. This new association with cravings and junk foods will make them easier to resist.

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Set Up Healthy Triggers

Throughout the day, you will come across many triggers for unhealthy foods from vending machines and advertisements. The sight and thought of these foods trigger your reward center to remember the dopamine that it receives from it. However, now these triggers will not be as powerful, now that you associate them more with addiction, disappointment, and deteriorating health and mood.

Now that you have some positive associations with healthy behaviors, you can begin to trigger them in the same way. Your brain will remember the reward it gets from seeing things your weight drop on the scale and the endorphins you get from exercise. Keep items like your scale, healthy snacks, water, or gym clothes in sight in order to trigger healthier urges.

Try Going Cold Turkey

Removing all junk foods works for some people, but not for everyone. If you feel that you are ready to do so then there is a benefit to quitting cold turkey. Foods like sugar, pasta, bread, and dairy are addictive to your reward center. If you eat them once, you’ll want another fix. Not having them for a few days can reduce your cravings, once they’re out of your system. In the meantime, you can use some of the alternatives in the next section, or try to swap out processed sugar for natural sweeteners like honey, agave, stevia, or maple syrup.

Try Healthy Alternatives

You can try healthier alternatives to foods like chips, cookies, cake, ice cream, muffins, pasta, and candy for the times that you have a craving but don’t want to go overboard. Most of the alternatives are not packed with artificial flavors or sugar, so they’re less damaging to your health and less likely to trigger cravings. Below are some alternative products, and you can visit my website or other sources for healthy alternative recipes.

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