When you think of somebody who is addicted to food, you might think of an extremely obese person who can eat a dozen donuts for breakfast. Or you may recall that really big man who orders four or five burgers for lunch. But sometimes food addiction is not that obvious and it is more prevalent in our society than you might think.
Also known as compulsive eating, addiction to food is not as widely publicized as alcohol or drug addiction. Nevertheless, it is a serious and growing concern that affects millions of people, especially in industrialized nations. An addiction to food leads to destructive consequences that are every bit as devastating as other addictions. Here are a few signs of food addiction:
You might be trying to justify your food addiction by telling yourself that you just have a “sweet tooth,” but if you have any of the above symptoms then the reality is that you may be deceiving yourself. Food addiction is real and food manufacturers are profiting daily from your inability to refrain from those ultra-sweet and super-salty snacks. Unfortunately, their profit comes at the price of your health.
Knowledge is power and this is especially true when it comes to a food addiction. Unlike other addictions, you cannot simply stop using food. Alternatively, you must educate yourself about what is going on in your brain and use that same brain to make better choices. To do this, it’s important to understand how you are being manipulated into eating unhealthy food. We were not created to consume large amounts of salt, sugar, or fat at one time. In fact, evolutionarily speaking, our brains naturally seek out carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats and protein from lean meats. These are the types of food that are natural to us. But it’s easy to see that our society is far removed from this natural way. And food manufacturers are creating foodstuffs that are “hyper-palatable,” which means that they are loaded with sugar, fat, and salt. Have you ever wondered why these foods are so inexpensive and easily accessible?
When our brains are constantly stimulated by sugar and salt-laden foods, we develop a tolerance for them and eventually find ourselves needing more sugar, more fat, and more salt to feel satisfied. What is happening is that these large amounts of unnatural substances are hijacking the chemical processes of the brain and the effect is very similar to the effects of taking a drug like cocaine. In fact, the National Institutes of Health have done some telling studies on the brains of food addicts as compared to the brain of cocaine addicts. The results conclude that the changes and the damage are comparable with both types of addictions. The good news is that you can get your brain back to its natural set point by going on a bland diet for a couple of weeks. This includes refraining from eating simple carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. Essentially, you can detox by eating lean meat, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit. Amazingly, after just a short time of doing this, you lose your desire for mega doses of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
After identifying a food addiction, addicts frequently act as though their plan to solve their problem is to stop eating. However, as mentioned, those who are addicted to food cannot simply stop eating like an alcoholic can stop consuming alcohol. The resulting behavior is often irregular eating patterns. But to conquer a food addiction, regular meals are a must. A good recommendation for food addicts is to focus on eating three meals with two snacks every day.
One major trigger for food addicts is stress. A stressful environment is an invitation for mindless eating. But since there is no way to completely eliminate stressful situation, it is imperative to learn to manage stress in a productive and healthy way. Meditation is a proven way to strengthen brain cell connections, stimulate brain cell production, and repair damage.
Exercise is another very effective way to manage stress. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce food cravings, keep you calmer and in control, and lessen addictive behaviors.
Food addiction is real. And processed food manufacturers knowingly fuel the problem by adding shocking amounts of sugar, salt, and fat to their products in an attempt to stimulate society’s taste buds and keep them coming back for more. When you are able to get back to natural, whole foods that grow in the ground or that are found in nature, you will find that your taste buds and your brain chemistry returns to normal. With this biological shift also comes an attitude shift. Instead of eating for the sake of addiction, you will begin eating for the sake of nutrition.