Food Addiction – Don’t Believe Me? Believe My Body… Part One

About three years ago, I found a 12-step program for food addiction. It was regimented in a very strict way, with a sponsor, early morning phone calls, meetings three times a week and no carbs or sugar. At all. I stayed on the program for 8 months and I lost 80 lbs. So what’s wrong with that? Well, cravings are what’s wrong with that and I craved sugar and carbs even after 8 months. I gave in and had some and then I was off and running, eating them like I was starving. I later found out I was starving and that’s why I couldn’t stop. The body needs a balance of all foods. I was devastated by the relapse and subsequent weight gain. And I felt like I was free from a certain amount of brain-washing that was going on. The program may work for some, but no doctor will endorse it I’m sure. No trainer will endorse it, and my body didn’t endorse it.

But the question remains, “Can Food Be  Real Addiction?” Why Yes, Yes It Can…

It’s no secret the United States has an obesity problem. You only have to go grocery shopping or people watching at the mall to see the evidence of this. With the numbers rising, and no end in sight, science has been studying the problem and has found that  excessive sugar, fat, and  salt  given to animals  activate the same receptors that drugs trigger. The brain is craving dopamine, whose receptors maybe lacking in many addicted people and sugar/salt/fat trigger dopamine and the “high”. But it doesn’t last and the person is off craving it again, obsessing over the foods that will make them feel good again, even though this behavior is wrong, even though it is making them fat, miserable, and in some cases diseased. For those that say just say no and exhibit some self-restraint, imagine telling a drug addict or an alcoholic to just say no, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with food either.

Dr. Oz has a list of questions to ask  if you suspect you might be addicted to food:

  • Are you hiding and sneaking food?
  • Are you thinking about food for more than an hour a day?
  • Eating after arguing?
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you go without food?
  • Do you eat despite not being hungry?

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale has these questions:

  • Do you spend a lot of time feeling lethargic after eating?
  • Do certain foods trigger you to eat to excess?
  • Do you find you have  to eat more of a food to get the same good feelings from it?
  • Do you have trouble functioning because of food and your behavior with it?

Unlike drugs or alcohol, which you theoretically can walk away from, food must be the tiger played with everyday. So how do you do that if you are addicted? See my post tomorrow for more information on food addiction…


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