If you pay attention to some of my comments in the groups, you will see me take people to task when they say “Just power through it,” “Get over it,” or “you shouldn’t ketofy foods” in response to someone asking how to deal with cravings. Yes, for some people this may work, IF THEY have that neurology. If they don’t, it is a recipe for disaster and those type comments can do more harm than good. Yup. People aren’t all the same… How many different neurologies are there in the world?
What’s the population?
Right. You are unique, just like everyone else. Atypical. You are not “abnormal.” I hate the term “normal.” What does “normal” really mean?
If you have 40 blondes in a room with one brunette, the brunette is “abnormal,” aren’t they? Does that mean automatically brunette=not natural? Does that mean that somehow, having genetics for dark hair makes you inferior? Nope (as a brunette in a relationship with a blonde, I might be biased :D). We should use “atypical” instead. Atypical means not the same as the majority:
Ok, back to the crux of this post…to label a craving or the inability to “power through one” as a weakness is unfair. Those who say that, say it from their perspective, they aren’t in that person’s head, are they? Nope. Being on the other end of those comments can bring on feelings of despair, lower self-worth, and feed into a feeling of “I’m a failure.” As you will see shortly, it can lead to weight gain, the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve. By trying to help, just the opposite is happening. Harm. Not everyone has the ability to do what others can do. This isn’t an excuse tossed out there to continue to feed unhealthy thoughts, this is… wait for it…
We know that hunger and satiety are controlled by hormones (leptin, ghrelin, cortisole, etc.) as well as the brain chemicals (serotonin, dopamine). They work in conjunction with each other to regulate hunger and nutrient intake. There’s more hormones and chemicals involved, let’s just keep this at a basic, high-level explanation to keep things easier to understand. The ability to resist the urge to eat requires the proper functioning of neuronal circuits involved in top-down control to oppose the conditioned responses that predict reward from eating the food and the desire to eat the food. Imaging studies show that some obese subjects have impairments in dopaminergic pathways that regulate neuronal systems associated with reward sensitivity, conditioning and control. It is known that the neuropeptides that regulate energy balance (homeostasis, AKA metabolic zen) through the hypothalamus also modulate the activity of dopamine cells and their projections into regions involved in the rewarding processes connected with food intake. This is a mechanism by which overeating and the resultant resistance to homoeostasis signals impairs the function of circuits involved in reward sensitivity, conditioning and cognitive control. Right, brain chemical responses in certain individuals help to cause you to overeat.
Not a glutton.
Your body is working against you because you have:
- A systematic chemical imbalance due to hormonal irregularities. Or…
- A neurological condition with either inhibited (blocked or partially blocked) brain chemical receptors or genetically lower number of receptors existing.
Wait? People can have number two? Aren’t all bodies the same? LOL. We know that to be false. Does that mean there’s “something wrong” with us? Did we do something wrong? Usually not, though these conditions also can be brought on by substance abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, and prescription drugs legally administered. Does that mean we are permanently hopeless?? No, it just means we are different and need to take a different approach to life. Some of these cognitive neurological conditions include (but not limited to):
- Attention Deficit (me, so if this post is hard to follow, that’s why 😀 )
- Obsessive Compulsive
- Chronic Depression
- Seasonal Depression
- General Anxiety
And a few hormonal events you may not have thought of:
BANG! You of the better sex, see those last three? Those cravings you have? Not your fault. We all know at least one person who is harder to be around during Shark Week than others. It’s not their fault. They aren’t being “a bitch.” They are fighting a hormonal battle with their body that they aren’t going to win. They are more sensitive to – or less, depending on the hormone in question – fluctuations and levels of hormones and biological chemicals than someone else Men, let’s be honest, we have no idea what it is like to deal with this. Right, so guys? At that time of the month, STFU, be nice, and TRULY understand it isn’t her fault. Tossing labels, names, anger, mean words\actions isn’t going to help the situation (you already know this…) and is unfair on the most human level. You can’t control your thoughts, but you can control your actions to those thoughts.
I’m moderately-severe ADD Complex. That means I have both ‘inattentive’ and ‘impulsive’ disorders. The Lady really didn’t understand why I did the things I did – zone out, forget the one thing I went the store for consistently, talk loud, twitch, etc. – because her brain doesn’t work that way. I finally was able to describe what it is like to her after sharing multiple articles on the topic so she would understand I wasn’t trying to be difficult, it just happens. My thought process at any given minute is like trying to catch the entire news broadcast on 100 different stations while hitting the scan button. Right. A snip here, then gone. Another snip, gone. Rinse. Repeat. If you could take that scene from Twister, you know the one, where you could see something, but not quite sure what it was and then it was gone? That’s me. This has to do with several different factors of my neurology, and one of them is significantly less dopamine receptors than “normal.” It takes more to get me interested in something and stick with it because I require more dopamine than typical. A lot more. When I get that level, I go to the other extreme – it’s called “hyperfocus” or the ability to be immersed in a task to the exclusion of all other thoughts. Yup, when I’m hyperfocused, I’m like a coon hound on the trail – unstoppable. Sometimes good, sometimes bad (like hyperfocusing while I have a cake in the oven…).
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “adrenaline junky” referencing someone who skydives, races cars, swims with sharks, etc. It really isn’t the adrenaline they are seeking, it is the dopamine. These individuals also have a dopamine imbalance. They need those “rushes” to feel “right.” Does this mean we are all “damaged goods?” I’d like to think not. Here’s a short list of people with neurological disorders just LIKE YOU AND ME that have used them to their advantage (remember “used them to their advantage”, k?):
Leonardo Da Vinci
Alexander Graham Bell
Hans Christian Anderson
Gen. George Patton
John F. Kennedy
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gregory “Papa” Boyington
F. Scott Fitzgerald
George C. Scott
George Bernard Shaw
Sir Jackie Stewart
Yup. We are not alone, hell, if you ask me, we’re some pretty amazing company. If they can make their neurological “dysfunctions” work for them, there is no reason we can’t do the same. It sheds light on another reason to not deny yourself ketofied items that you really like once you get through induction and relearn “how to eat.”
YOU KNOW THOUGHTS CAN CHANGE YOUR METABOLISM
We’ve all heard the body stores fat when we take in more calories than we use. And this is true, but there’s much more to the story than the “calories in, calories out” concept that we know as the often misunderstood, misquoted, and misused “theory.” We’ve covered the calorie thing from a consumption perspective, today, we look at it from a neurological perspective. Right, how our brain affects when and what we eat.
The body’s decision to store some of the food we consume as extra pounds has a lot to do with the way we think about food. From dreams of doughnuts to fantasies of fudge, our thoughts about the foods we crave can have a dramatic impact on our metabolism. Say what? Gotcha curious? Read on to learn about the psychology and chemistry of insulin.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Just thinking about food makes the weight come on?” Sounds like a crazy and unscientific thought, doesn’t it? Amazingly enough, this may well be true. Scientists have described an interesting component of digestive metabolism called the cephalic phase insulin response. Insulin is a hormone we produce to help metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids in our meal and put those nutrients where they are needed. We know this part, right? Insulin also has another interesting function: in excess amounts it signals the body to store fat and inhibit muscle growth. The cephalic phase insulin response is a measurable phenomenon where the body produces insulin when you simply look at a piece of cake or fantasize about a bowl of pasta. The digestion of a carbohydrate food literally begins in the mind. It’s the body’s way of getting a head start on digesting your meal before the food even passes your lips.There’s an exquisite connection between the head brain – our central nervous system – and the brain in the belly – which is called the enteric nervous system, know as the brain gut axis. The “brain” in the belly is an interconnected nervous system that enervates the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, pancreas, gallbladder and more. It has approximately as many neurons as does the spinal cord – over 100 million. In other words, there’s a lot of intelligence in our gut, and it loves to gather all kinds of information from what we’re thinking, feeling, believing, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting. Don’t believe me? What happens when you are dreading a task. Yeh, you feel it in your gut. What about having a little stomach flu? Do you feel mentally to take on the world? Nope. Smell something rotted, you get queasy. Touch something slimy? You get queasy. All those senses are processed in the brain between your ears, but affect the “brain” in your gut. So, why is it such a leap to think this is just isolated to nasty stuff? It isn’t.
Think about the typical dieter who denies themselves nourishing or satisfying food, who might be quite low in calories, and is simply hungry. Chances are, they start to fantasize about food. Pretty sure this has happened to you – where you start to imagine all the forbidden foods that you want to eat. For the person who’s constantly fantasizing about pasta, cookies, cake, or ice cream, etc. – they’ll be in a continuous cephalic phase insulin response, and thus producing insulin, even though there are no carbohydrates or sugar for insulin to act upon.This means that insulin levels will be artificially high and the insulin will be sitting around with nothing to do. By default, this chemical can then perform its secondary function, which is to store fat and inhibit muscle growth. Add to this the stress of dieting and denying oneself food and satisfaction, and our dieter will also produce more cortisol – yet another potential fat-storage hormone. Here’s the thing about cortisol… if it hits a high enough level, it will break down muscles to “feed its need.” RIGHT. If there’s no “free stuff” hanging out for insulin, there’s also no “free stuff” hanging out for cortisol so it makes it by breaking down your muscles. UGGGH! By constantly fantasizing about carbohydrate-rich foods and leading a stressful life, our dieter will have the exact pieces in place for chronically elevated insulin and cortisol – the precursors for “non-caloric” weight gain. The point is not to stop fantasizing about waffles and ice cream, the point is to eat it, get over it, be aware that you are eating it, get the satisfaction your brain is requiring, and move on to the next life experience. If you get what you want, you won’t need to be constantly thinking about what you don’t have. Right. Dopamine is happy. Serotonin is happy. Your METABOLISM IS HAPPY. Cortisol and insulin stabilize. It’s that simple.
Since carbohydrate foods are foods that we truly need to keep out of our ketogenic diet – we need to make sure as best as we can – the meals we’re eating are satisfying ones. For many people, satisfaction is a radical concept. We’ve been conditioned to believe that to have the body we want, we need to deny ourselves food, deny ourselves pleasure, and wage a war against our appetite with all the firepower we can muster. By fighting the biology of the body, we create the very condition we so sincerely struggle to avoid. Getting fat. Getting insulin resistant. Getting UNHEALTHY. Checking in when we eat as opposed to checking out ignites metabolism and fulfills the body’s inborn need to dine. Does this mean that every time you fantasize about food that you’re going to watch the scale go up? Absolutely not. Please don’t cause yourself extra worry, it’s all about finding a place where you can eat in a nourishing and pleasurable way and not need to be in a constant fantasy about food. It’s simply about spending less time in our head, and more time where some of the best action really is – your body. Right. Ketofy everything. Remember, from a nutritional perspective, a PROPERLY ketofied food – cake, batch of cookies, pie, pizza, pasta, and other “bad” foods – is nutritionally NO DIFFERENT than a regular meal. Protein. Fats. Low carb. Micro nutrients. There is no nutritional difference between a couple of eggs scrambled in butter with a side of keto toast than there is with a slice of cake made with eggs, almond flour, and butter. Granted, you can’t eat a whole batch of cookies and half a cake and say “woot, I’m eating healthy” because calories DO matter but (you can’t eat an entire carton of eggs fried in 1/2lb of butter, either) that doesn’t mean in moderation it is bad for you.
If this fits you, stop denying yourself health and happiness. Feed the brain and your body. Satisfy that craving, stop when it is gone, listen to your gut (it will tell you when enough is enough and when too much is too much), and use this as a pathway to success instead of a reason to give up.