“Shame. He has a serious drug addiction problem. It’s so sad,” is a statement I have often heard someone say.
And sad indeed it is.
Sadder still though, is that I have yet to hear anyone say, “Shame. He has a serious food addiction problem…”
Yes, food addiction. True story.
That’s because only recently have scientists begun to understand that food addiction is tougher to break than cocaine addiction.
Why food addiction is tougher to break than cocaine addiction
Let’s be real. No-one overeats lettuce leaves and spinach.
This should make us wonder why…
But it doesn’t. Because most people are not in the habit of chowing down on lettuce leaves and spinach.
I reckon most people are way too dependent on food, even those not looking to lose weight. In fact, in a poll of Hubpages readers, 85% of people felt they eat more than they need to.
It’s a sign of the times. I imagine it’s only going to get worse. Just look at the obesity problem and trend in America.
Money is the driving force behind most of the food available in shops. I don’t think most people realize that they may be putting their lives in danger when they eat food that has come from a factory.
Because of what often gets added to the food to either make it keep, or to make it taste better. And sometimes, to intentionally hook you.
It’s been proven that foods high in fat, salt and sugar change the brain’s chemistry to compel people to eat too much. Up to this point, we have been too concerned about what goes on in our body when we eat, and not enough attention has been given to how the brain responds to certain foods, or the combination of certain foods.
To your detriment, fast food suppliers and food manufacturers have cunningly cottoned on and use this knowledge for your destruction. They groom you to become addicted to their food so that they can keep you coming back for more.
Ingredients in food that cause overeating and food addiction
David A. Kessler, Harvard-trained doctor, medical school dean and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, conducted some research for the book, “The End of Overeating” by Eric Risberg.
Where some fast food restaurants had declined to provide ingredients to the FDA, he took to the same fast food dumpsters to check out the ingredients of what was really in the food they sold. According to Washington Post, this is what he found:
The labels showed the foods were bathed in salt, fat and sugars, beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Eggrolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times. The “egg rolls,” which are deep-fried in fat, contain chicken that has been chopped up like meatloaf to give it a “melt in the mouth” quality that also makes it faster to eat. By the time a diner has finished this appetizer, she has consumed 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium.
Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner’s brain to crave more, Kessler said. For many, the come-on offered by Lay’s Potato Chips — “Betcha can’t eat just one” — is scientifically accurate. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want, Kessler found.
But…it’s not only the salt-fat-sugar combination that gets our tongues craving more. There are other ingredients that do it too. These are:
- MSG – used often in Asian fast foods, this is the reason you just can’t stop eating after eating Chinese takeaways.
- Cheese – why do you think most fast food burgers come with a dose of cheese and why pizza is so popular?
- Meat – The blood in meat contains chemicals that activate the opioid system which controls pain, reward and addictive behaviors.
How food addiction works
Your brain has a reward system which was designed for your survival.
Imagine if food was not pleasurable…we would not eat it, and then we would die.
The brain was created to reward you for doing something right, like eating. So the brain gives you pleasure when you eat.
Eating an apple or a cheese sandwich may cause some release of dopamine, but chowing down on a burger and chips is so incredibly rewarding that it releases too much.
What can you do to break a food addiction habit?
Food needs to be pleasurable so that we will continue eating to live. The reason why food addiction is tougher to break than cocaine addiction is because for obvious reasons, we can’t ever give up food and live. But we can give up cocaine and live.
If you suffer from food addiction, you know how hard it is to give up those foods that give you pleasure, and even more so, the foods that give your brain the cue to eat. In other words, your bad eating habits. For me, that has always been eating chips or popcorn when watching a movie, so when I sit down to watch a movie, I immediately feel like chips even though I may have just had supper. If I were to obey the cue and eat the chips, I am reinforcing the habit and this strengthens the neural circuits which strengthen my bad food addiction habit.
This video with Kessler explains more on food cues and addiction:
To break a food addiction habit, speaking from my own experience, you need to change your habits. And this always involves pain. It takes a conscious decision to just stop. But you need to do it one step at a time, not all at once because that would just be too much.
If you need to, go so far as to book into a health spa for 3 weeks where they control what you eat, and decide that when your stay is over, you will not touch the addictive food again.
If not a health spa, make it a project, that by such and such a day, you are going to give up such and such addictive food. And then just go for it. Ignore the pain of withdrawal and press on forwards. It does get easier. I am testament of this. I have not fully conquered my own food addictions, but I’ve successfully let go of dairy, sugar, MSG and meat.
And when I am ready, I shall focus on my overeating habits by using the Precise Portions products.
If I can conquer many of my previous food addictions, so can you.