BREAKING FREE FROM FOOD ADDICTIONS
"Food addiction is a disease which causes loss of control over the ability to stop eating certain foods. Scientifically, food addiction is a cluster of chemical dependencies on specific foods or food in general; after the ingestion of high palatable foods such as sugar, excess fat and/or salt the brains of some people develop a physical craving for these foods. Over time, the progressive eating of these foods distorts their thinking and leads to negative consequences which they do not want but cannot stop." From the website of the Food Addiction Institute.
"Are you a food addict? Due to those uncontrollable cravings, a food addict's quality of life deteriorates when he or she eats sugar, flour or wheat. It can deteriorate physically, emotionally, socially and/or spiritually." From the website of Food Addicts Anonymous
"All of those symptoms are being caused by the meth you are using. Meth causes your brain to waste and destroy dopamine, leaving you with very low levels. This is directly responsible for the lack of motivation, the craving sweets and eating the house down, and the depression. It will never get any easier than right now to quit. Every time you use meth, you destroy more dopamine, making those side effects you hate so much, worse. If they seem bad now.... they will be worse the more you use." One meth addict to another, who was asking via a message board if she could quit on her own (from the "anti-meth site" KCI.org). As you might realize, the addict giving the advice was recovered / recovering. Swap the word "meth" for any of the foods you are addicted to and re-read the quote.
According to Prevention Magazine, the "Top Ten" most addictive foods are in ascending order, bread, donuts, pasta, cake, chips, cookies, chocolate, French fries, candy, and at the top of the pile, ice cream. And just like the fact that with drugs or alcohol it takes more and more and more to get that same "high," so it is with addictive foods.
The other day I addressed the fact that there are many people (professionals and non-professionals alike) who believe that FOOD ADDICTIONS / SUGAR ADDICTIONS are a myth. In light of the research and abundance of books on the topic (not to mention organizations like those in the quotes above), trying to intellectually defend that position is nigh impossible. Because food addiction has been likened to addictions to hard drugs (HERE), causing virtually identical responses in the brain, we need to stop treating it with kid gloves. It's not your "little problem," it's an addiction. And unfortunately, addictions have this nasty little habit of ruining your life, as well as the lives of those around you.
Much of the debate on Food Addictions hinges on whether addictions are diseases or choices. Although I am a personal responsibility kind of guy, my opinion (based on a fair amount of research) is that they are both. Although every day we make choices concerning what foods we eat, we live in a society that provides a constant barrage of external cues which are scientifically designed to trigger the desire to consume foods we know we shouldn't.
There's the grocery store itself that's purposefully designed to make you buy on impulse. There's the food ads on TV, in magazines, and on the internet, for every decadent form of processed (highly palatable) junk imaginable. And then there's the way we were raised. Unfortunately, the way today's children are being raised as far as their diets are concerned, is frequently hamstringing them for life before they can even make it through elementary school (HERE).
The truth is that addictions are harsh. In many ways, food addictions are no different than other addictions. They'll destroy your life. There are any number of organizations and groups out there whose goal is to help you beat Food Addictions. A few of you will probably have to go that route. My goal today as a "HEALTHY" SUGAR ADDICT is to tell you what works so that you can do it on your own.
STEPS FOR BREAKING FOOD ADDICTIONS
"People can’t manage their behavior and their eating because their taste buds and their biology have all been hijacked by processed, hyper-palatable, high glucose, high sugar foods that drive their hormones and neurotransmitters to make them eat more. We’re consuming pharmacological doses of sugar and flour never before seen in the history of the human race. We’re consuming on average 146 pounds of flour and 152 pounds of sugar every year. That is a lot." Dr. Mark Hyman from Nichole Lyn Pesce's piece in the New York Daily News titled Ten Day Detox Diet Author Tells How to End Sugar Addiction and Clean Up Your Diet
Despite the abundance of evidence to the affirmative, your doctor is not likely to be of help with your addiction. For many of you, this means you'll have to take matters into your own hands. Phillip Werdell of the ACORN Food Addiction Institute writes that, "there is nothing taught about food addiction in most medical or nursing schools, graduate schools for dietitians or social workers or in the advanced training of most therapists. Even the required reading list for the certification exam put out by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals does not contain a text on food dependency. There is no reference to food addiction in the Merck Manual of Medical Information, the world’s most widely used medical reference, nor in the American Psychiatric Association’s Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria for mental health. In the last few years there has been new scientific research that establishes that food should be listed as a substance use disorder."
Despite the dearth of "textbooks" on the subject, there are not only hundreds of books, but hundreds of studies in peer-reviewed journals, and probably thousands of internet articles. The truth is, there are any number of specific things you can do to help break addictions to sugar and processed foods. This post is not really about those specific things (drinking more WATER, going PALEO, EXERCISING intelligently, etc, etc, etc). Today I am giving you some of the basics of mentally kicking a Food Addiction, which I believe can be broken down into three parts, getting your mind right, kicking the habit, and creating healthy new habits.
I. GETTING YOUR MIND RIGHT
II. KICKING THE HABIT
The truth is, once your mind is right, and you've made the decisions about what you are going to do in certain situations beforehand, the rest is easy. Oh; sorry --- you already know that this is not completely true. You do need to have your mind made up about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it (complete with a written plan) before you start. However, as I already mentioned, it's going to be rough going for awhile. If you've ever been around someone who is going through withdrawals as they come off alcohol or hard drugs (physical symptoms and pain, as well as emotional stress and intense cravings), you need to realize that on some level, this could be (probably will be) your experience. Hang on, embrace it as part of the healing process, and get through it. Use your support group and don't quit. Like I said, it really does get easier fairly quickly.
And to all of you 'experts' out there who decry terms like "willpower," telling people that personal responsibility, discipline, and mental toughness are not part of the equation; I have one word for you..... Bullship! For many of you, breaking an addiction is going to be like going to war --- and fighting it one battle at a time. The fight will eventually (sooner rather than later) become easy. But don't kid yourself and don't let others kid you. It is a war. A war you are ultimately fighting against yourself. Yes, there are any number of JEDI MIND TRICKS you can use to help you succeed. But if you go into this endeavor thinking it's going to be a cake walk because you read Doctor such and such's book, the majority of you will be in for a rude awakening.
III. CREATING HEALTHY NEW HABITS
Getting rid of old habits is not good enough. You have to create new habits and ingrain them in your being before you as much as even think about "CHEATING". I have any number of posts on this topic, but truthfully, if you study the links in THIS POST, you'll find most of what you need. One more time: I've said it before, but it bears repeating. If you will stick with this thing, it will get easier (again; watch the video below). If you can get through the first couple of weeks, you'll be amazed at how much less that ice cream and brownie sundae is calling your name. And who knows; you may actually get to the point where you actually like things like BEETS and BROCCOLI.
THE BEST WAY TO DEFEAT ADDICTIONS
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).