It’s about my personal story, the relationship to the food we have, and why Ayurveda can help to heal addictions
I no longer strike for perfection when it comes to eating because the one big thing I learned is that your nutrition is a journey.
And, personally, the past three years have been quite a journey.
It started with strict liquid-only juice fasts, I went vegan, started working out and joined Escapist, and tried out different diets like intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet with our Box Nutrition Program.
When I began my studies for Vegan Nutrition this year, a big topic was Psychology and the relationship we have with food.
Or is it maybe more than just a mental addiction?
I believe that most people are addicted to processed foods to some extent, (in my case chocolate!) and it’s a real addiction that needs to be seen as such to treat and heal it properly.
But what exactly happens, when we just can’t get enough sugar/fat/salt?
I’m sure everyone has that one friend that always adds way too much salt onto their meals and still complains about the weak taste of the food.
This is because, over time, the brain changes and adjusts itself to the addictive substances (like the mentioned salt) and overstimulation, to ensure it can still work properly. It reduces the number of dopamine receptors, which leads to a weakening of the high or happiness-signal, each time we consume the addictive substance. However, the brain has already got used to the stronger signals and thus feels a lack of reward. This then triggers an increased desire for the food that has already been consumed -in our example: the salt.
This biochemical process is called neuroadaptation, which is an important mechanism of the brain, but adapting to processed foods, drugs, and alcohol can end up being very harmful to our body and stressful for our minds.
To have an addiction to food therefore is a biochemical problem, it’s not about “not having enough willpower” or “being weak”!
And as we now know, our levels of dopamine play a huge roll in this.
Following a strict diet from Day 1, not giving your body time to adjust, creates a big dopamine drop, that leaves the addicted person sad, sometimes even depressed, tired, angry, and with an immense rage and hunger for exactly that product.
The body needs time to restore their dopamine to a normal state.
Recently I started learning about Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old natural holistic health belief and medical system.
In ayurvedic medicine, digestion is key to maintain overall health and longevity. A strong digestion means a strong mind and body. Digestion is a reflection of your mental, physical, and emotional state of balance.
Poor dietary habits and stress can weaken your body and create imbalances, which result in toxic build-ups and digestive problems.
Once you clean the gut and bring it back to a strong and healthy production, experts say, you will naturally lose bad habits and unhealthy cravings in the process.
I started to implement some natural ayurvedic remedies and practices into my daily routine and will continue to do so in October. They are proven to fight cravings, improve the overall digestive system, and balance out emotional stress by restoring the dopamine levels. Using the techniques, the dopamine levels will be filled up again and that drop-level I mentioned before can be avoided. You will gradually lose the appetite for unhealthy processed foods without having to force yourself through a strict diet.
So, my nutrition journey and the Escapist Octobers Nutrition Challenge fit together just perfectly.
Let’s clear out our bodies of toxic build-ups and excessive salt, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats, so we can kickstart our nutrition and feel fitter, improve our sleep, excel in our daily WODs, and much more!
Gina Salvato, member of Escapist Crossfit