Food Addiction

Food Cravings

If you’ve EVER had a food craving, you know the overwhelming sensation that you experience.  It is an intense feeling,  and typically very different than “normal hunger.”

According to the Wikipedia definition, there is no single explanation for food craving. Not very encouraging I realize. The explanations can range from low serotonin levels affecting the brain centers for appetite to production of endorphins as a result of consuming fats and carbohydrates.

Foods with high levels of sugar glucose, such as chocolate, are more frequently craved than foods with lower sugar glucose, such as broccoli.

And that’s because when glucose interacts with opiod system in the brain an addictive triggering effect occurs. The consumer of the glucose feels the urge to consume more glucose, much like an alcoholic, because the brain has become conditioned to release “happy hormones every time glucose is present.

As with anything relating to weight loss, it’s the difference in your thinking that’s going to allow you to make permanent changes in your eating habits.

Dr. Judith Beck (the Beck Diet Solution) reminds us that the emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel. Once you can say to yourself with total conviction – NO CHOICE – the craving will diminish.

She goes on to describe the Mindset Techniques and the number of steps of how to respond to your next craving.

The five steps help you prepare your mindset, and you should use the following every time you have a craving:

1.  Label it. Tell yourself, “This feeling is just a craving…it’s uncomfortable and intense but it’s not a (food) emergency.”

2. Stand firm. Tell yourself that you’re absolutely not going to eat the food that you’re craving. Remind yourself that you truly don’t want to strengthen your giving-in muscle and weaken your resistance muscle.

Thinking about giving in can undermine your confidence.

3. Don’t give yourself a choice. The emotionally painful part about a craving is the struggle you feel.

The craving won’t go away if you waver or say to yourself, this is so intense, I don’t know if I can stand it. Of course you can stand it! It might be uncomfortable, but nothing bad will happen if you withstand it.

4. Imagine the aftermath of giving in. Go ahead and think about eating the food you’re craving. Imagine it in your mouth. How many seconds does it take to eat it? How many seconds do you feel pleasure? Now visualize the rest of the picture – the part of the experience you usually don’t think about until it’s too late.

Picture yourself feeling weak and out of control. See yourself feeling upset, giving up, continuing to eat more and more, feeling worse and worse.  As you become upset in the image, remind yourself how many times you’ve given in before, how you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again, and hopeless you felt.

Now….what seems better – eating or not eating?

5. Remind yourself WHY you want to learn to withstand cravings.

It’s always about the WHY of weight loss. Not when you start, not what food plan you’ll be on.  It’s about the WHY.

Always knowing the WHY of why you want to lose weight will come in handy through the days, weeks, and months as you start to change your lifestyle and will have to remind yourself (often) of the reasons you’re into this lifestyle change to begin with.

Trying to Lose Weight or Just Stay Fit? You’ve Got to Try This!

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you need a break-through with your current weight?

I encourage you to join a 90 Day Challenge with me! I have something very exciting that I want to share with you.  I’ve searched high and low for some really good weight loss products and I believe I found it. And the best thing about these weight loss shakes is that there also for people who are fit and in shape already too.

Here’s the site – when you get a few minutes, check it out at http://thinkingthinlifestyle.bodybyvi.com/

If you want to supplement a meal (or two for quicker weight loss) you need to try these delicious shakes.  I won’t get in to all the flavors that I like but it’s a very simple plan if you want to lose some pounds.  If you have any questions let me know at thinkingthinlifestyle@gmail.com

 

Did You Know….

Over the past 40 years, American women have increased their daily calorie intake by an average of 199 calories, while men have added 179.

During that same time period, the obesity rate has more than doubled.

Caffeine Addiction Withdrawals!

My head was pounding, and I didn’t know why. And on the second day, I think I figured it out.

You should know that for several years now I have been adding a flavored, caffeine powder packet to my cold bottle of water every morning, and that morning drink is the only time I drink caffeine. I very rarely drink anything else with caffeine in it, and I always look forward to this bottle of water because it gives me just enough “kick” to get me going every day. You coffee drinkers will understand this morning routine!

Recently my husband and I went away for a long weekend and I realized on the first day of our get-away that I forgot my little packets of caffeine, and I had a passing thought of how my morning routine was being thrown off. But with lots of activities to get to, I didn’t give it another thought – until the headache got worse throughout the day. Geez Louise! It was a full blown migraine by the time I got to bed that night.

On the second morning I came face to face with the realization that perhaps my headache was due to caffeine withdrawals, and the start of a second day with a dull thud in my head began.

(Did you know that the so-called caffeine headache is the most common withdrawal symptom experienced when a person abstains from or attempts to break their addiction to caffeine? A John Hopkins Medicine study showed that 50% of people who consume caffeine on a daily basis experience a headache within 24 hours of abstaining from it).

The bottom line is I put up with a bad headache for a couple days but was so busy for the four days I didn’t notice any other physical symptoms (see my post from June 14, 2011 for more addiction/withdrawal information).

So the dilemma is….now that I’m back to the normal routine of life (ho hum), do I go back to my beloved caffeinated morning drink, or do I let it go, stay headache-free and just have the bottle of water?  Seems kind of boring doesn’t it – I’ll let you know what I do.

Dangers of Diet Pop

Wow – you’ve got to see this. Take 4:12 minutes of your day today and check this out. I understand the psychology behind the concept of losing weight (and keeping it off), and how food can be a psychological addiction. But sometimes we’re fighting other “battles” that we’re not aware of – like what’s IN our foods and drinks and how that affects our brain chemistry. This has good research information about diet drinks and how they can make us GAIN WEIGHT – what the heck is that about!! So much to think about…..but this is very eye-opening for me, hope it is for you too!

Do You Have a Problem with Dieting?

(this is a long one today but I know you’ll find it interesting)

One of the journeys that I’m on is to find information that help you, me and others understand the complicated factors that hinder us all from consistent weight loss.

And quite frankly I like research that help dieters know what they’re up against, or proven research that gives dieters sound strategies.

You know, like when you read something with “clout” and you have an Aha Moment that  confirms how you’ve been feeling for years.

If you’ve never gone to Psychology Today’s website, it’s a wonderful place to get lots of information. Kelly McGonigal published an article (The Problem with Dieting) not too long ago and shared about a recent study that showed just how chronic dieting can turn someone into a food addict.

Did I read that right? Dieting can turn someone into a food addict?  Keep reading….

Bad news for yo-yo dieters this week: according to a recent study, cycles of feast and famine can create fast-food junkies – at least in rodents.

(hang in there, I know you’re not a rodent, but this is good stuff).

The researchers put rats on a cyclic diet of 5 days of standard rat chow, followed by 2 days of the equivalent of rat fast food (high fat, high sugar, highly delicious).

In other words, a compressed version of most dieters’ swings between self-control and indulgence.

The first thing they observed is that it didn’t take long for the rats to develop a clear preference for the unhealthier diet. (not a surprise there)

When put back on a standard diet, they showed signs of anxiety and reduced pleasure from (or even refusal to eat) the standard chow.

When the preferred food was available again, their anxiety calmed down, but they overate.

After 7 weeks, the researchers took a look at what this diet had done to the rat’s brains.

They found the brain was resetting itself for higher levels of stress. This is the same pattern of brain changes observed during withdrawal from alcohol or other addictive substances.

Other research has demonstrated that this neural stress response triggers cravings and relapse among the substance-dependent.

In effect, by making the unhealthy food temporarily unavailable, the researchers created food addicts.

Food might not be addictive on its own, but prohibiting it can set off a cycle of anxiety, craving, and over consumption that for all purposes looks like addiction.

There’s no reasons to believe that the food itself was the problem in this study, but the anxiety induced by restricting access to it.

Another study offers hope for ending the cycle. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec, Canada have been following the benefits of a unique weight control intervention for over a year.

This intervention, called “What about losing weight?” emphasized the possibility of being “healthy at every size.”

(OKAY….HERE WE GO….YOU’LL LIKE THIS PART)

Rather than making food restriction and weight loss the goal, the intervention emphasized positive things participants could do to improve their health:

*good nutrition (what TO eat, not what NOT to eat)
*enjoy physical activity, and
*listen to their bodies

It also taught strategies for appreciating your body as it is now, regardless of size. (hard concept to swallow for some of us)

Participants in the study were overweight or obese women who had likely entered the study as chronic dieters. By the end of the study they showed significantly less “food disinheriting” or losing control around food during stress, celebration, or other situations that triggered overeating.

After the one year follow-up, two-thirds of participants had lost weight, despite the interventions’ explicit focus on positive behaviors, not trying to reduce food intake or lose weight.

Compare this to the quick weight loss followed by weight gain that a typical diet leads to. Participants who developed the most “flexible” restraint (as opposed to the rigid restraint of most dieting strategies) were the most likely to maintain a weight loss.

Yea!

From the first forbidden food (a very tempting apple) prohibition has led to problems.

This study shows that focusing on positive steps, not self-denial, can make you less likely to succumb to food-related stress and anxiety.

If you want to improve your overall self-control, and regain control around food, you may need to give up the ideal of perfect control!

Food Addiction – Day 2

(This is an continuation of yesterdays blog on Food Addiction)

Food addition, as with any other addiction, is a loss of control.

The individual understands that their way of eating is harmful, but continues the destructive behavior. The phenomenon of food addiction is both physiological and psychological.

Many individuals have what may be termed “food allergies.” These are trigger foods which when ingested cause negative symptoms and changes in the body but at the same time provoke cravings.

The individual, for instance, the diabetic, may be made “sick” by the intake of sugar, but will still continue to crave it and eat it in excess, with adverse effects. Studies are also continuing regarding certain proteins in milk and wheat which when ingested produce narcotic-like effects.

These chemicals mimic the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, and have thus been termed “exorphins.” Individuals may be suffering from depression, low self-esteem or loneliness, they will find a high when ingesting large quantities of food or certain foods such as salt or chocolate.

The immediate high gives way to a sick feeling or guilt, leading to more depression.

Because the addict is out of control, he or she will turn once again to the same eating patterns in a conscious or unconscious effort to feel better.

Food addicts come equally from all age, race, and gender groups. They are overweight, underweight, and some of normal weight. They are linked by their obsession with food.

The obese individual suffers humiliation due to excess weight, they may be lethargic and sedentary unable to move around freely.

The underweight person may be bulimic, though they eat obsessively, they are so afraid of becoming overweight that they will induce vomiting, take laxatives, or exercise compulsively to prevent weight gain. They may also alternate with periods of anorexia, refraining from food to control their weight.

The person of normal weight while appearing normal may be obsessed with food, constantly thinking about what to eat or how much they weight. The entire subject of food is a misery to them, they count calories compulsively, eating without enjoyment.

What about “recovery” – Is there any hope for recovery?

Food Addiction is a serious condition with many adverse health consequences. Obesity, psychological disorders, diabetes, and gastric anomalies are just a few.

The first step to recovery is, of course, the realization and acceptance of the problem. Medically, individuals must identify which foods – the trigger foods – cause allergic symptoms and cravings.

There is no easy way to combat food addiction; it will require intense discipline in modifying eating patterns and lifestyle.

A manageable exercise program should be embraced along with dietary changes that may be maintained.

Ambitious attempts to change eating patterns abruptly or to lose weight quickly rarely have long-term success.  (www.allaboutlifechallenges.org)

The physiological and psychological dependency of food can be very very hard to understand and deal with.  You have it within you to change, but to understand things on a deeper level can be beneficial in moving forward with your continued weight loss attempts.  Godspeed to you today.

Are You a Food Addict?

How often have you felt that you were literally addicted to food? Just like a smoker is to a cigarette, or like an addict is to their drug of choice, you feel the pull of food too much for you at times.

Then to add insult to injury, when you get your “fix” of “inappropriate eating” and you come off the high of satisfying yourself briefly with food, you are affected emotionally because then you start the process of beating yourself up over how weak you are, or how incompetent you are.

And you question yourself repeatedly why wHY WHY you can’t control yourself.  It seems like such a vicious cycle – doesn’t it?

That’s what our habits are….cycles of repeated behaviors.

I’m going to be sharing a few things about this topic throughout the week because I have wondered through the years myself, can someone really be addicted to food?

As I have had “unhealthy relationships with food” (how’s that phrase for counselor-talk?), and have sworn at times that I couldn’t control myself when it came to eating, I wondered if there were chemicals in our brain, and in the food, that made it darn near impossible to stop the out-of-control eating frenzy!!

Having done neurofeedback training for years with individuals, I can tell you that our brain is amazing and there can be a lot of dysregulation with our brain patterns that effects our mood, thoughts and behavior – that’s for sure (and maybe I’ll talk a little bit more about this later) but in the meantime I stumbled across the following at www.allaboutchallenges.org that I think you’ll find interesting.

Food Addiction:

Food addiction is a contemporary term used to describe a pathological disorder, the compulsive, excessive craving for and consumption of food.

This condition is not only manifested by the abnormal intake of food, but the intake and craving for foods that are, in themselves, harmful to the individual.

While society and the medical profession have readily understood alcoholism and drug abuse, it is only in recent years that there is an equal acceptance of the fact that persons may be addicted to food in the same way.

When any substance is taken into the body regardless of its potential for harm or in excess of need, that substance is said to be abused.

Individuals who abuse substances in such a way are addicts; these persons become physiologically and mentally dependent upon certain substances, in this case food.

One need only ask themselves a few key questions to determine his or her addiction:

*Do you eat when you are not hungry or when you feel low or depressed?
*Do you eat in secret or eat differently in front of others than when you’re alone?
*Do you consume inordinate amounts of food and then purge later with vomiting or laxatives to get rid of the excess?
*Are there foods that are harmful to you, but you eat them anyway?
*Do you feel guilty after eating?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions than you are likely addicted to food.

Tune in tomorrow to learn the causes of food addiction and if there’s hope for recovery. By the way, there is!