Tired of being a slave to your cravings? Tired of using food to manage your stress? Want to tune up your physique and mental health? Follow these 5 steps to manage your diet (with your MDs permission of course):
1. Understand your brain: The best way to understand why your brain is pushes you to eat things you want to is to look at at adults with ADHD. People with ADHD have an underproduction of dopamine in their brains, making it hard to control impulses. Food, especially carbohydrates, provide a rush of dopamine making binging immediately gratifying. You may not have ADHD, but when you are stressed, tired, or down, your brain is craving dopamine and a slough of other neurotransmitters.
2. Don’t skip meals: It’s simple, if food provides a release of dopamine, skipping meals will certainly create a deficiency and subsequent craving.
3. Eat multiple small meals: Eating small meals every 3 hours helps regulate blood sugar, neurotransmitters, and stimulates the metabolism.
4. Exercise: Exercise increases the baseline level of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. If your baseline production of dopamine is higher, you are less likely to crave the rush of dopamine following a plate of carbs. This is especially important for adults with ADHD.
5. Stay motivated: Staying motivated is a bit more complex. There are many variables that go into the reasons why we start and maintain changes to our diet. For some it is cosmetic, for some it is mental, for some it is physical, whatever the reason, the motivation lies in our thoughts and feelings. By becoming aware of our thoughts and their relation to our feelings, we can ultimately change our behaviors. This is the basis of the powerful therapeutic approach Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Sometimes our thoughts don’t serve us well and prevent us from making the changes in our lives we want.