Being hungry and craving sweets are two of the main reasons people fall off their diets. In many cases, the real reasons for cravings sweets or thinking we are hungry is because we don’t feel good. I refer to this as a funk, and in some cases, depression. There is a scientific reason for this. The good news is that knowing why you crave comfort foods can also help you resist them. The solution is getting you to feel better and properly nourishing your body to stop cravings before they begin. So, what’s behind the cravings? It all starts with serotonin.
Produced by your brain, serotonin is the “feel good” hormone. When your brain produces enough of it, serotonin can help you feel calm, confident and happy. Sunshine stimulates our brains to produce plenty of serotonin, but during the short days of fall and winter, our brains need extra stimulation to produce enough serotonin. This may be why we crave things like bread, crackers, cereal and sweets, especially chocolate, because they stimulate serotonin production.
There are other things you can do to boost serotonin, even if you have craved the wrong foods your whole life. Be patient if you’re someone who has always craved the wrong things or can’t stick to a diet – this can be fixed!
6 Ways to Boost Your Serotonin and Stop Cravings
- Place 6 drops of oxytocin under your tongue within 1 hour of waking to help combat the stress hormones that are making you crave the wrong foods. You will feel better right away and may even want to exercise. Oxytocin blunts the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and that will help melt fat around your waist.
- Exercise every day to boost your endorphins and support serotonin production. Your workouts will help you stay grounded because you will feel better instantly! The best kinds of workouts are not slow weightlifting workouts but metabolic-boosting workouts. And you don't have to kill yourself either!
- Eat your greens! Meeting your body’s nutrient requirements is the secret to your success. Aim for 6 servings of vegetables per day. They are full of fiber and are unlimited free foods that will help stop cravings and keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat on the wrong things!
- Drink yourself happy! No – not alcohol. A high-quality whey protein shake with at least 1000mg of glutamine can boost your brain power and help you feel better fast without stimulants. This is one of the most important life-changing steps that everyone can do every day to not only help you lose weight but to keep it off. The glutamine in the shake can help ease depression. If you could only use one supplement, I suggest the protein shake. Look for 24 grams of protein, no fat, low sugar and low carbs.
- Meditate or pray daily. Cultivate a habit of prayer or meditation every day to quiet your mind and reduce stress. If you’re having trouble, grab a good book to read each day. Even 5 minutes can make a big difference. One of my favorite books is Turn It Around by Pastor Frank Santora. Just like the title says, you can turn it around and sometimes all we need is faith! Remember that our physical lives are not separate from our "spiritual" lives; in fact, they are one. Almost always, we neglect this crucial step because we are busy or too tired, and it’s the most important step to our health and well-being!
- Eat chocolate every day! Choose chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate also boosts the feel-good hormones and you’re less likely to overeat dark chocolate because it’s not full of sugar like milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and gives us a feeling of doing something good for ourselves.