I was attending a health fair recently as an invited contributor when a young lady standing at my table announced that she was in the psychology portion of her medical license education and they were currently talking about food addiction. She then announced to me she was a food addict.
Her confession nearly brought tears to my eyes. First because this concept is being taught in formal education, second because here was someone about to be in a position of relative authority allowing her to disseminate the same rhetoric she had been taught, and finally third because she genuinely believed it.
Before I get too far into this discussion let me say right now you can not be addicted to food as a whole. The unsaid statement there is “If I could just stop needing food everything would be fine.” It is like saying you are addicted to air, or water or sleep. It is physiologically impossible to be addicted to something you need to survive.
Now it is absolutely possible to be addicted to a specific food or food like substance. In fact there is an entire multi billion dollar industry built around that very notion. Naturally the thing most of us are most easily addicted to is sugar. But pick up a bag of chips or any other highly processed food like item and look at all those ingredients you can’t pronounce. Most of those are chemical compounds developed in a lab by companies with huge research budgets.Their express purpose is to trigger the same pleasure receptors as does cocaine or other heinous substances most of us would never think to put in our bodies.
If you don’t think food companies profit from our group think, next quick fix mentality consider a few decades back when low fat was all the rage. Food companies knew that a great deal of the taste in their food came from fat. They couldn’t just quit making those foods so they had to replace the fat with something that allowed them to put “low fat” on the packaging. Of course what they replaced it with was sugar, arguably one of the most addictive and destructive legal compounds on the planet. We all thought we were doing good for ourselves when we reached for the “low fat” fig newtons over the original variety.
Each time a new diet craze hits the streets our market shelves are flooded with things like “low carb” or “gluten free”. And what makes most evident the fact that they are taking advantage of our ignorance is the number of items labeled “gluten free” that a reasonable person would never expect to have gluten in them in the first place.
Where the difficulty comes in for us as consumers is that, just like any other drug, the only way for us to rid ourselves of these horrible toxins and begin to experience the real difference of being addiction free is by going cold turkey. This isn’t the same as a fight with appetite or belief we have motivation issues. Those are topics for another day. But make no mistake this is very difficult. It is actually these “foods” and toxins that pay a huge part in your constant desire to eat and are the saboteurs of your willpower. However, the payoff is better and more important and useful than any quick fix diet out there. What this means is very literally cleansing our bodies of everything unnatural and harmful which means not only sugar, but also anything that triggers the same insulin response as sugar like fruits and artificial sweeteners. It also means all processed and refined flour. These things must be replaced in our diets by the best food you can find and afford. Organic vegetables, whole grains, hormone free meats and fresh drinking water. Don’t leave out any macro-nutrient. That means you must get carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Only after two to three weeks of being completely free of these toxins will you begin getting a real feeling for what your body wisdom has to say. But by listening to it your entire experience with food will begin to change. Then by slowing down and acknowledging your food as you eat it you might find a whole new appreciation and understanding of what you really need.