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Stop Craving Junk Food in 4 Steps

April 01, 2015 3 min read

Cravings originate in the unconscious mind but that doesn't mean they can't be curbed. Coming from the primitive reward centers in our brains, cravings are driven by habit and routine. A habit is defined by the 'habit loop' which consists of reminder, routine and reward. Meaning, there is a reminder event followed by a repeated routine, which ends with a particular reward. When this loop is repeated, cravings develop. The craving ensures the routine will be repeated. Nasty little cycle! But don't fret, if you have a junk food habit that is derailing all your other best efforts, we've got 4 steps that can help you beat it once and for all.

1. Pay Attention

Notice your cravings and pay attention to the environmental factors that have triggered them. It could be anything from turning on the TV, a Saturday night out with your friends, or bad day a work.

2. Hack the Habit

Once you identify the habit and the craving it creates, try to determine the reward you are actually seeking. Once you do, change the routine so that you can obtain the reward but get to it without going through the junk craving. For example, you get home from work and you feel that familiar feeling, the desire, that craving. Identify the reward you are seeking. If it is relaxation, skip the glass of wine and wheel of cheese and draw yourself a bath. Take time away from life and the outside world. Repeat this routine over and over (and over) until you create a new craving.


3. Balance the Brain

The brain is loaded with metabolic function and is the source of most of our cravings. In the case of biochemical cravings, the goal is to achieve a balanced hormonal state in the brain. That means a balance between the brain's stimulating hormone, glutamate, and its relaxing hormone GABA. That's not all. It also means you need to achieve a balance between dopamine (the hormone that helps us stay motivated and focused) and serotonin (the hormone that makes us feel content, satisfied and relaxed). There are natural components you can take before cravings or when they hit that will go a long way to stopping them dead.
  • cocoa powder (1 tablespoon in water)
  •  Branched-chain amino acids (5 to 10 grams)
  • Tyrosine and 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) in a 10-to-1 ratio (1,000 milligrams of tyrosine and 100 milligrams of 5-HTP)
Each one of these things contains properties that shut down cravings at a biochemical level. If you combine this with the behavioural modifications, you have found a really powerful way to devastate those diet killing cravings.

4. Assess

Use your cravings as a biofeedback tool to help you understand how your metabolism is functioning. There are lifestyle factors, like low blood sugar, lack of sleep, skipping meals or eating too much (just to name a few) that could be impacting your cravings. Always ask yourself how your cravings have been. Assess your cravings, along with your hunger and energy, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the strongest). Ideally, the intensity of the cravings should be low, like under 5. If this is not the case, it is a sign that your diet and exercise routine are not sustainable. Time to switch it up. How do you deal with your cravings? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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