The Battle of Food Addiction
Every day in my prvate practice as a Naturopathic physician helping people tackle their weight issues via the HCG Diet we discuss the behavioral, addictive nature of food. The human brain is hard wired for addiction (unless you are really lucky)!! Food is everywhere and food is often a reward and becomes habitual.
Changing Habits and Patterns with Food Addicition
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a woman named Marcia. She has battled her weight and food addiction for years. Each day, she awakens with fresh resolve to eat healthy, exercise and lose weight. Then, when the sun begins to set she feels sabotaged as she sits feeling full after a spell of binge eating. Of course like so many, Marcia has tried everything! You name it. She can do it but the commitment is only temporary! SHe always seems to find herself falling back into her old habits and patterns. The urge to overeat is almost like a force that she cannot reckon with. Sound familiar?
The Science Behind Food Addiction
Research based on brain imaging has demonstrated that many common food cravings such as foods with sugar, salt and fat stimulate the same reward centers of the brain as highly addicitive drugs. Therefore, it is thought that the individual susceptible to food addiction may experience cravings, tolerance and even withdrawal effects if the food that stimulates these feel good neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) is not consumed again in a relatively short period of time. The body can become conditioned to expect and “need” that food fix each night in order to feel the calming effects of the dopamine rush that is sure to follow their snacking. Behavioral patterns and habits are the hardest habits to change. It is the hardest work we can sometimes do as humans but it is SO worth it.
I recently read a study which showed that sugar and flour can be addictive for those who have issues with serotonin processing. Serotonin is another “feel good brain chemical”. Another study points to low leptin levels as the likely culprit behind binge eating. Increasingly, studies are demonstrating that our behavior with food seems to be related to how our brain chemistry reacts to what we eat. There are most likely many things going on all at the same time.
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