A Culpable Food Industry
Many people believe the food industry spikes food with processed sugars and flours knowing this will lead to food addiction.
Indeed, many supermarket premade dishes contain more sugar than a bar of chocolate! The sweetness of these dishes is often hidden by an infusion of salt and spices.
In fact, some even say processed sugar is more addictive than cocaine!
I recommend you read the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.
Studies conducted on rats exposed to junk food prove the rats suffer withdrawal symptoms when the junk food is removed similar to that suffered by rats addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This was particularly the case for rats addicted to sugar. When sugar was withdrawn, the rats suffered several withdrawal symptoms: shaking, anxiety and a change in body temperature.
Scientists say youre least likely to become addicted to unprocessed natural foods such as vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds.
Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder
The main symptom of binge eating disorder is eating a lot of food in a short time and not being able to stop when full. Other symptoms include:
- eating when not hungry
- eating very fast during a binge
- eating alone or secretly
- feeling depressed, guilty, ashamed or disgusted after binge eating
People who regularly eat in this way may have binge eating disorder.
Mental Hack #: Cognitive Control
Cognitive control revolves all around how you view food, and I divide it into two broad categories:
Theres often a lot of self-talk going on when we try to fight foods . And what usually ends up happening is that the more time we try to talk ourselves out of something, the stronger it becomes and the more it steals our attention.
Ever tried jumping off a high rock? The longer you wait and talk yourself up, the less chance you will actually jump.
One of the easiest things you can do in regard to your mind is change the mental chatter.
Rather than looking at cookies and ice cream and saying to yourself, Oh man those look good, tell yourself the truth, I know I cant just have one bite Im going to eat 20, and even remind yourself of your goals, tomorrow Im going to feel like crap and totally regret this.
Jon Grant, at the university of Minnesota, asks patients with a history of shoplifting to write out a shopping list before they go to the grocery store and just put two items on the list: handcuffs, to remind them of their previous history, and a bologna sandwich, to remind them of what they were eating in jail.
Basically this just jogs their memory and reminds them of the consequences of their behavior, and similar to saying Ill feel terrible after eating cookies, it instills a sense of guilt beforehand. .
Setting rules for your food is another way to beat using willpower.
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Is Food Addiction Real
Whether or not food addiction is real has been the subject of debate in recent years.
Chocolate and sugar, for instance, have always been regarded as addictive foods.
This study , where rats preferred sugar water over cocaine, is often cited as a justification for food addiction. Its important to emphasize that this study was done on rats: our brains arent similar enough to base our responses to sugar on theirs.
The study also used straight sugar instead of sugary foods, so it is difficult to transpose. It remains interesting and raises a need for further research, however.
In addition, the components of addiction include both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms .
Neither of these has been shown with food items.
While some may believe that such a thing exists, the evidence for substance-based food addiction is poor. If we look specifically at sugar, no evidence supports sugar addiction in humans .
People arent addicted to sugar, but rather adopt addictive eating behaviors around highly palatable food. While I know a lot of people who would binge on cookies or ice-cream, I dont know any who would wolf down spoonfuls of table sugar to satisfy a craving.
Ultimately, the concept of food addiction is flawed: food cannot be compared to drugs or any other addictive substance. Unlike drugs or alcohol, food is essential for survival.
How To Overcome Food Addiction: Eating For Strength
Im eating my feelings. It is a phrase used often and innocently enough to describe using food as a method of coping. It is often spoken with some humility, or an entertaining edge, whether said on a TV show, or comes from the mouth of a friend. Although the idea of eating for comfort rather than nourishment is familiar to most, it rarely receives the type of scrutiny, consideration, or pause that other forms of coping such as substance abuse, say, or pursuing adrenaline spikes via extreme sports. Despite its supposedly innocuous designation, eating for comfort and eating to cope are potentially dangerous behaviors, and are often signs of food addiction.
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Dont Ban All Favorite Foods
Restrictive eating patterns that eliminate many of your favorite foods may cause you to feel deprived, potentially leading you to binge on forbidden treats.
Diets that concentrate on whole, unprocessed foods are always best, but making room for an occasional treat is perfectly healthy.
Swearing to never have a scoop of ice cream, slice of pizza, or piece of chocolate again is not realistic for most people.
That said, in the case of food addiction, a person may need to permanently abstain from trigger foods. In this case, its a good idea to find healthy substitutes that are satisfying.
Focus on providing your body with mostly healthy, nutritious food while giving yourself the freedom to truly enjoy a treat here and there.
Summary Eating patterns that are too restrictive may drive binges. The key to a sustainable, healthy diet is to concentrate on eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time while allowing for a treat here and there.
Ways To Help If You Think You Have A Food Addiction
When thinking about addictive substances, most people will put illicit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes at the top of the list, without even giving a second thought to the food they consume on a daily basis. That makes sense, given that food addiction is not currently included in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , the standard classification used by mental health professionals in the United States to diagnose addiction. However, perhaps it should be, as there are more than 100 million adults considered obese in the U.S. compared with the countrys 17.6 million alcoholics and one million chronic heroin users. Is using food Americas drug of choice?
The jury is still out, so to speak, when it comes to classifying food as an addiction. On the pro side, scientific research shows us that certain palatable foods can create a reaction similar to the impact drugs have on our brain. For example, when a person repeatedly eats sugar, which is hidden in so many of the foods that we consume, it causes dopamine to be released in reward-related areas of the brain. These same areas of the brain are activated when you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. The reward from eating sugar can lead to further eating, ultimately making it hard to cut back on intake.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food addiction, here are five topics to consider as an intervention:
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Eating The Right Foods
I talked about the importance of getting a medical checkup with blood work. When you get the results youll know if you are lacking certain vitamins. Thats important to know so you can make changes in your diet.
Because everyone has different preferences and comes from different cultures I am not going to recommend a specific nutrition plan. I do encourage the idea of finding a nutrition plan, not necessarily a diet plan, but a nutrition plan that looks interesting to you. If youve always wanted to try going vegan, gluten free, paleo, whole30, and the list goes on and on, now is the time to try it. Most plans you can purchase as a book or online and they come with specific guidelines.
A nutrition plan isnt for everyone however, and if its not for you thats okay too. But, you do need to look at your current diet and see where you can make improvements. Everybody can make improvements somewhere.
We already talked about eliminating the sugar from your diet so that takes care of one main key factor to making sure your body is operating at peak performance. Some other changes you need to make are these:
Can People Be Addicted To Food
In recent years, food addiction has become a popular idea among some scientists. Those researchers say that certain foods high in fat, sugar, and salt are addictive, causing changes in the brain similar to those made by drugs. Studies in animals have shown that rats that binge on sugar, for example, can develop signs of dependency.
But the idea of food addiction is controversial. For one thing, the standard treatment for addiction is abstinence, and thatâs not possible with food. Also, âdieting is a very strong component of the binge eating cycle,â May says. âFrom that standpoint, itâs counterproductive to label certain foods as negative.â
Thereâs no doubt that eating can stimulate the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, Hudnall says. âBut that doesnât make food an addictive substance. Thereâs evidence that itâs actually the behavior — the restrict/binge cycle — that causes the signs of dependency, not the food itself,â she says. Some researchers have even stated that the term âeating addictionâ is a more accurate term than âfood addiction.â
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Holistic Treatment For Addiction
In addition to the traditional treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, todays treatment centers look at how genetics play a part in addiction as well as how biochemical imbalances contribute to the anxiety and cravings people often experience with alcohol or drugs. When combined with genetic mutations, these imbalances can interfere directly with addiction treatment and recovery.
How To Beat It
Theres no quick fix or magic pill to make you stop wanting sugar or foods that you crave. Ultimately, you crave what you regularly feed yourself. So the only way to reduce your cravings is to take a break. If you regularly have something sweet to eat after dinner, its very natural for you to always feel like eating something sweet after dinner. Youre in a bad habit, thats all. Research has shown that fasting particular foods doesnt increase the cravings like it does with true drug addiction, it actually reduces them.
Changing your habits and behaviour is hard work. So you need to get prepared. Here are are few tips to help you beat the sugar high and get in control of your eating.
Addiction Affects Diet And Proper Nutrition
Addiction harms the body in two different ways: the substance itself affects the body, and that in turn leads to a negative lifestyle that includes a poor diet with irregular and unhealthy eating habits. When an addicted person neglects proper nutrition, it will negatively affect the bodys well being.
An addicted person may:
- Fail to eat since their appetite is suppressed, or they may forget to eat altogether.
- Make poor food choices or none at all since their limited funds go toward supplying their addictive substance, leaving little left over for healthy food.
- Binge after they come down from a high.
- Increase the loss of nutrients from vomiting and diarrhea.
Chronic alcohol abuse, for example, interferes with the bodys ability to absorb nutrients from foods due to damage to the stomach lining and damage to the pancreas. This organ helps us to absorb fats and keeps our blood sugar appropriately balanced. Too much alcohol combined with lack of nutrients can lead to alcohol-induced pancreatitis which is life threatening if not immediately treated.
The other damaged organ associated with this type of addiction is the liver, which helps remove harmful toxins from the body.
Many who are chronically addicted to alcohol have deficiencies in some key nutrients including zinc, and several B vitamins especially B6. Depleted zinc causes a loss of taste and smell plus it is has links to depression, apathy and irritability, all common problems for addicts.
How To Beat A Sugar Addiction
Breaking a sugar addiction begins with reducing the amount of added sugar that you have in your food. Sweetened beverages are one of the main culprits, including sodas, energy drinks, and sweet iced tea. Opt for the sugar-free versions of your favorite drinks, or add sweetener yourself, gradually reducing the amount youre putting in your drink. Also consider reducing the amount of alcohol you drink. Beer and wine have a lot of sugar in them, too.
You may also like water with a few flavor drops added in. When you become dehydrated, its easier to cave and say yes to sugar. However, switching to foods and drinks with artificial sweeteners may delay the amount of time it takes to kick a sugar addiction.
Opt for the sugar-free versions of your favorite drinks, or add sweetener yourself, gradually reducing the amount youre putting in your drink. Also consider reducing the amount of alcohol you drink.
You can also stop buying desserts and sweet treats. If you think youll have a hard time moderating how many cookies or pieces of candy youll eat, simply stop bringing it into the house. If others in your family are asking for treats, ask them for their cooperation in helping you beat your sugar addiction. Or, you can buy small packages of your favorites instead of a large family-sized container.
When you feel a sugar craving coming on, try to do something to distract yourself. Exercise is a natural mood booster and can help take your mind off the craving for a sweet treat.
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How To Stop Overeating
The first step in determining how to stop eating so much is to get to the bottom of your tendency to overeat. Depending on the underlying reasons for overeating, you may need to see a licensed therapist who specializes in binge eating disorders or who can help you heal from past trauma. If you use food as a coping mechanism, understanding why can help you process your emotions and adopt healthy behaviors so that you learn how to not overeat in response to negative feelings.
You may also benefit from group therapy, such as Overeaters Anonymous, and creating a network of support that you can lean on when you feel the urge to binge eat. In group therapy, you may also learn strategies from others that help you learn how to control eating, but only after discussing your problem with a doctor.
If your eating habits arent caused by psychological issues, you might need to learn more about nutrition and exercise. If this sounds like you, begin with a visit to a licensed dietitian . A dietitian can help you find healthier alternatives to calorie-dense foods and develop an eating plan to help you put an end to overeating.
Being mindful when you eat can help reduce how much you eat. This means that when you do eat, you concentrate only on eating. Chew slowly, taking note of the flavors and textures of your food. Set your utensils down between bites and allow yourself to eat more slowly. These techniques can help you learn how to stop eating so much.
How To Break The Sugar Habit
Our sugar-laden diet is literally killing us. That’s the conclusion of a study reported at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in March 2013. The study authors attributed 180,000 annual deaths worldwide25,000 in the United States aloneto sugary beverages. Sodas and fruit drinks aren’t our only sources of sugar. The average American eats between 22 and 30 teaspoons of added sugar each day, according to the AHA.
“The harmful effects of sugar are primarily due to the weight gain from added sugar in the foods we eat and sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Dr. Michelle Hauser, certified chef and nutrition educator and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Most of the deaths are related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
How much sugar do we actually need? According to AHA guidelines, women shouldn’t get more than 100 of our daily calories from added sugar. In reality, “you don’t need any added sugar,” Dr. Hauser says.
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Neurobiology Of Reward Sensitivity
Addictive drugs directly affect the mesolimbic dopamine system , which is thought to mediate the processing of motivational salience, pleasure and reward . Animal studies have shown that, similar to drugs of abuse, palatable foods are capable of triggering dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area . Furthermore, activity in the MDS has been linked to the amount of food ingested and its rewarding properties . However, distinct patterns of neuronal firing in the NAc to food and illicit substances have also been reported . Increased activation of this reward system has also been shown in human participants during the presentation of food cues and meal consumption . For example, Stoeckel et al. demonstrated that when viewing images of high-calorie foods, obese women showed significantly greater activation in a number of regions associated with reward, compared to healthy-weight women. Obese participants have also demonstrated increased responsivity to food in gustatory and somatosensory regions , suggesting a heightened sensitivity to palatable food that may contribute to overeating and obesity.
Strategies To Instantly Stop Your Fast Food Addiction
Why does fast food have to be so delicious and not nutritious.
We all love fast food, for so many reasons.
Its tasty, thanks to all the additives that are high in sugar and fat. And there are so many options. If theres something you dont like, all you have to do is continue down the menu until youve found another item. Fast food is also cheap, in comparison to other choices you may be contemplating. While prices have risen over the years, a pizza will forever cost less than a steak.
Taste, choice and cost are only the beginning, with a lot of other perks pertaining to junk food!
Its super convenient. You dont necessarily see drive-through salad bars on every corner, and its nice not to have to jump out of your car when youre on the go. Then theres the benefit of not having to cook, which can take too long when you set aside time for shopping, chopping, cleaning and washing.
The harsh reality is that junk food is processed which means your brain is much more likely to crave it. Even though the conscious mind knows theyre unhealthy, some other part of the brain seems to disagree. Some lucky people dont experience this and can easily control the types of foods they eat, while others cant. This isnt due to a lack of willpower its a much more complex situation.
If you feel you are addicted to sweets and junk food, what should you do?
Here are six strategies you can try, to overcome an addiction to sugar and junk food.
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