Talking about food addictions is very trendy right now but it can be very misleading and confusing. In this article I would like to explain to you what is all this fuzz about and give you my best weight loss advice related to food addictions.
Some authors argue that it is only your ability to refrain from eating that counts. For others, brain mechanisms (some controllable, some not) are the most important cause for being overweight. The truth probably lies neither at one end nor the other, but somewhere in the middle: your own self-control and your subconscious mind determine what, when, and how much you eat.
There is a certain pattern behind your reaction to foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating. It feels like a force pushing you toward those “bad” foods. It feels like an addiction. Also, the food manufacturing industry manipulates food to exercise control over your will. In more precise terms, the food industry aims to manipulate you so you’ll consume more and more of their products. These highly modified foods are not good for you, especially if your objective is to gain control over your weight and become healthier. The truth is that some of those products really have some addictive power over you. Learning about this addictive power will help you manage it.
There are two types of addiction: physical and psychological addiction. Both of these mechanisms are in play when we talk about eating behavior.
Physical Food Addiction
Physical addiction occurs when your body becomes used to a certain substance. After some time, it becomes difficult to function properly without it. This type of addiction is difficult to manage because the moment you don’t take those substances, there is a withdrawal effect that makes you feel miserable physically. The only way to restore your body to a normal function is to remove the addictive substance so the body learns how to function without that substance. The good news about physical food addiction is that once you overcome the withdrawal process, you will not feel more negative effects— unless you are again exposed to the same substance. This new exposure will trigger the addiction once more, and you will need to go through the withdrawal process once more.
Some people show a high addiction to certain foods, especially those that combine fat, sugar, and salt, like cookies, doughnuts, muffins, crackers, and some kinds of potato chips. Unlike other types of physical addictions, breaking the physical addiction to these foods is relatively easy.
When you eat a specific addictive food, there is a glucose peak and consequently a high insulin response. When glucose is suddenly removed by insulin, there is a big drop in glucose levels. This is followed by a craving effect—you search for more of the addictive food. If you can resist this specific craving, the physical addiction of this cycle will be over very soon. You can learn more about insulin here and about food cravings here.
Psychological Food Addiction
Psychological addiction is much more complex than the physical addiction. The difficulty is not only the complexity of our minds but also the lack of knowledge about most of the mechanisms that take place in our minds. We are all different, so we respond differently to external stimuli. For some of us, food can have a palliative effect when we are depressed or in trouble. Other people won’t be able to eat anything under those same situations.
Many of us tend to think that food helps us when we feel down by providing us with some pleasure. Food is also associated to a pleasant night out, an afternoon movie, a happy breakfast, or any such merry occasion. The problem arises when you associate food with those feelings. Food cannot give you a pleasant night out unless you have a good partner or friend to enjoy the night, or a good movie, or music, or a good restaurant. If you are not happy with what you have, food is not going to add any more happiness.
A chocolate bar will give you instant pleasure while you are eating it, but that happiness will turn to smoke as soon as the bar is finished. With physical addiction, the moment you don’t feed the addictive substance to your body, you can physically feel the withdrawal experience and become aware of what is going on. With psychological addiction, you don’t really feel anything but the instant pleasure of it, so you think you are happy or unhappy because of that. Food can end up being a real obsession.
Happiness comes from the inside, not from whatever enters your mouth
My advice: recognize and accept that food will not give you anything you don’t have. If you are happy with your life, a good meal will add pleasure to it. If you feel miserable, you will feel the same way after you eat a burger, lasagna, a candy bar, a doughnut, or a bag of chips. Once you have truly accepted this reality, you’ll be able to work much better on your food addictions you will stop having so many physical and psychological cravings for unhealthy food.