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Are You Addicted to Food?

Posted by AregM

For nearly 15 years, Dana Littleton ate chocolate practically all day long. "I used to drown myself in it," says the 34-year-old stay-at-home mom from Guntersville, AL. "I just couldn't get through my day without chocolate. I'd be positively frenzied if I didn't have it and feel calm and at ease when I did." Littleton recalls a day a few years ago when she was home with her two girls. It was a punishing 20°F when she realized that she was out of Snickers, a favorite treat. So she bundled up 3-year-old Georgia and 4-month-old Caroline, put them in the car, and drove to the gas station. "I actually dragged a small baby out in the cold," Littleton says. "Anyone who knows me would say that it's out of character for me to do that—it was a sign that I was out of control. I wasn't even out of the parking lot before I had inhaled two candy bars." Her habit had consequences, says Littleton, who started numbing herself with food after the death of her father at a young age. Her need for sweets helped drive her weight to 250 pounds; her back and knees hurt, and she had chest pains. "People tell me that at least I've never had an addiction like alcohol or drugs—something serious," she says. "But I tell them my addiction was serious." Addiction—to food? It seems that everywhere you turn—dinner parties, your best friend's kitchen, bookstores, even talk shows—someone is confessing to having a food addiction. For years, experts scoffed at the notion that you could be hooked on chocolate or chips. Some still do. But recently, high-tech medical scans have revealed surprising similarities in the brain chemistry of drug addicts and chronic overeaters—resemblances that have caught the attention of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "We're involved in studies of brain changes associated with obesity," says Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIDA, whose 2001 study pioneered some of the food-addiction research. "We're doing it because many compounds that inhibit compulsive eating may also inhibit compulsive drug intake. The neurocircuitry overlaps." ....Continued on
Answers (2)
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I've been in the psychology of eating business for more than 30 years and when I started out there was no such thing as a food addiction. Now we know that we can become physically dependent on foods with high sugar/fat/salt content because they trigger a release of dopamine (the feel good neurotransmitter) in our brains causing us to crave these foods. As with other substances, some people genetically are more prone to become addicted than others. However, it's important not to believe that biology is destiny. Good judgment and emotional health go a long way toward modulating food cravings.


Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.

Food and alchohol addictions are often really addictions to sugar. Of course, there are also addictions to salt and fat.  In fact, it's usually a constant desire for one of those, sugar,  salt and fat, that keeps people eating and never feeling satisfied.  The food addict is never satisfied because the body is out of balance, and it is constantly trying to correct that balance. Unfortunately, by eating more sugar, salt and fat, the addiction only grows worse and the imbalances more pronounced.

When the food addict begins eating a more balanced diet of whole foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the body finds its natural balance and the cravings disappear.  The trick is to replace all the sugary, salty and fatty foods with healthy foods that don't contain those substances.

Also, sugar in tobacco is one of the contributing factors to cigarette addiction.  Sugar is one of the most powerfully addicting substances in our food supply, and it is in just about everything you buy at the store, in one form or another.  It is hard for people to avoid sugar in typical store bought foods.  The consumer must be very dilligent, and look for healthy alternatives like stevia, which helps maintain normal blood sugar levels, without the constant spikes and crashes.

There is another product that has helped many food and drug addicts to break their addictions.  It's NuPlus, a blend of complex carbohydrates from whole food plant ingredients.  NuPlus curbs cravings for unhealthy foods and was mentioned in a book on drug addiction, released in the 1980's, as one of the best ways to help addicts change their habits.  NuPlus works by supplying the body with what it really needs, balanced whole food nutrients. 

I know a man who ate several candy bars every day for over 20 years.  Then, when he started using NuPlus, he quit the candy bar habit with ease, eliminated his diabetes, lost weight and is able to maintain this healthy lifestyle years later.

For more on sugar addictions, read these articles:

Top 3 reasons that sugar is not good for the body

2 more top reasons that sugar is not good for the body


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