The Doctors: Junk Food Cravings
Karen from California emailed The Doctors to ask why she can’t achieve her target weight, despite adhering to a healthy diet. The Doctors have heard this type of question many times before, so they invited Karen to be a guest on the show and learn how she can get more satisfying results. Plus, Dr Travis Stork shared a Holiday Calorie Quiz to test your knowledge.
She admitted that she eats at night and even eats when she is not hungry. To show her the connection between brain and diet, the team sent her to a company called Brain Paint, which analyzes neurofeedback.
Brain Paint: Cravings Neurofeedback & Brain Waves
Bill Scott is an EEG Biofeedback Specialist at Brain Paint, and he said you can analyze brain waves. A 2007 study found that alcoholics, for example, have a strong brain reaction to images of alcohol, as compared to neutral images of nature.
Karen admitted that her addiction is chocolate, and she feels like she has no self-control around Chocolate. Brain Paint studied her brain waves while showing her neutral foods such as Chicken and Broccoli, compared to Ice Cream and Chocolate desserts.
The Doctors: EEG Brain Waves & Cravings Results
Before the show even got to Karen’s EEG results, it was obvious that she had a much more animated reaction to the candy bars and desserts she was presented with than the healthy foods such as Oatmeal.
Back in the studio, Dr Travis Stork compared the EEG readings from when Karen saw the bland foods versus when she saw her favorite junk foods. The readings for the health food were unremarkable, but her brain waves went crazy for her favorite snacks.
Is My Appetite Normal?
He said the Prefrontal Cortex thrives on cravings, and Karen suspected that her cravings were tied to Emotional Eating. Dr Travis Stork said it’s normal to be hungry about four times per day, because the body tells the brain it’s ready for more food.
He went on to say that there is a “second brain” in the digestive system, called the Enteric Nervous System. Nerves run through the digestive system and connect with the Vegas Nerve, controlling our feelings of hunger.
As you start to eat a meal, the Enteric Nervous System kicks in. One of the results is the release of a peptide that travels to the brain to tell you you’re full; the catch is it takes 20 minutes for that message to be received by the brain. “That’s why it’s so important to not give in to your cravings, but to acknowledge your hunger,” he said.
The Doctors: Holiday Calorie Quiz
Karen said her rule at the holidays is simple: “eat everything.” We’ve all been to the barbecues and big family meals, but Dr Travis warned that while it’s OK to indulge, you don’t want to overdo it. He took Karen and the audience through a holiday calorie quiz to see if you know how much you’re really eating on special occasions.
- Valentine’s Day – Box of Chocolates – 2287 calories
- Super Bowl/Big Game – Pizza, Chips, Wings & Beer – 2154 calories
- 4th of July – Daiquiris, Burgers, Peach Cobbler, Macaroni Salad – 2822 calories
- Halloween – Assorted Candy – 3500 calories
- Anniversary – Wine, Pasta, Tiramisu – 2287 calories
- Total Holiday Calories – 35000 calories
And they didn’t even include birthdays, Thanksgiving or other winter holidays and parties. All that adds up to about 10 extra pounds per year that we’re binging on. It doesn’t seem like a big deal on one day, but over the course of a year, or a lifetime, those extra pounds can really add up.
Dr Travis recommended leaving space between foods on your plate, which could help you reduce your caloric intake by 20%. “Instead of eating everything in sight, dabble a little bit,” he said. Taking it easy will keep you from feeling horrible afterwards.
Peppermint & Apple Scents Fight Cravings
Another way to curb cravings is to smell Peppermint or Apples. This can redirect those cravings and reign them in. Karen was inspired by what she learned, and Dr Travis reminded everyone that we have choices when it comes to our cravings and indulgences.