By Cathy Daub PT, CCE and CD(BWI)
The human body’s urge to eat is powerful! We love eating socially, snacking, for comfort and when under stress. But when we get into a habit of eating for the wrong reasons, the toxic hunger we experience gives wrong signals to us as we haven’t met the needs of our body.
I love the idea of understanding the difference between toxic hunger and true hunger. Toxic hunger is associated with food addiction – that feeling inside that makes us want some foods so much that we can’t stop eating them because they taste so good. Getting rid of such food addictions helps us to get back in control of our lives. It doesn’t mean eating less, but rather eating more of the right kinds of foods.
Macronutrients are foods that have low nutrients per calorie density scores (less healthy) whereas micronutrients are foods that have high nutrients per calorie density scores (more healthy). Micronutrients are super foods that offer the most protection against disease. Examples are kale, collard greens, mustard greens, watercress, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, spinach, and arugula to name a few. You can see that these are mostly the leafy greens. Eating the stalks as well offers high nutrient benefits. Just cut it up into little pieces and put into your stews and salads. Other foods include vegetables such as Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower.
In contrast, the macronutrients offer little health benefits and tend to be higher in sugar, salt, and fat, which makes them addictive. These include white bread, white pasta, French fries, Cheddar cheese, apple juice, olive oil, vanilla ice cream, corn chips and Cola and other soft drinks. What is interesting is that if you can stay away from these foods for 10-21 days, your taste buds actually change and you will find yourself not craving them as much anymore.
The brain can only be fueled by glucose and needs it to function. Our bodies break down muscle tissue to make glucose for the brain. In digestion there are two stages: the anabolic stage and catabolic stage. The anabolic stage of eating and digestion is where the body breaks down foods to make “you.” Healing of tissues does not happen in this stage. In the catabolic phase, the body is working hard to heal itself. Eating macronutrients, the body thinks it feels hunger when it is really toxic hunger. Instead of burning off the food, we feel like eating again. Then there is a feeling of withdrawal which is detoxification. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is so toxic that it is like drinking ten cups of coffee a day. If you lose toxic hunger, then in the catabolic phase, instead of feeling discomfort from withdrawal, you’ll feel okay and not hungry.
The secret here is learning to achieve micronutrient atoms so that you will feel true hunger. There are other added benefits such as improved skin, better eye sight, improved quality of life, and better breathing. Work to make salads your main dish of the day. Add seeds and nuts to increase absorption of the micronutrients.
Be aware of the micronutrients you are eating and how good they make you feel. Eating micronutrients helps you to feel real hunger along with a heightened sense of taste so you’ll enjoy your food more. Be aware of the feelings you have with true hunger as opposed to toxic hunger. Be aware of how good it feels to be healthy and not controlled by your food addictions. Your body and your baby or babies will thank you for it.