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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are we addicted to food?

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that one.  An emphatic YES. 

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I am not the only one who has found themselves at the bottom of a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and thought, "Oh shit, I just ate all of that!"  As we are rapidly approaching Thanksgiving, I can't help but think about the gorge fest that we are all about to partake in and our physical and mental reactions to our feasts.  You know what I'm talking about:  psychological beat downs as we step on our scales the next morning, feeling exhausted and grumpy, doped up and ready for another round of stuffing, and the well adjusted few who can handle Thanksgiving without any  major incidences.  I already know I will bake, feast, and guilt  myself to death over what I should have and could have done better nutritionally.

What exactly is this about?  Dopamine bitches.  Dopamine.  It is the reason we gorge.  It is a feel good chemical that is released when we eat certain foods, do illegal fun, and have wild sex.  It is why you see shit tons of sugar at AA meetings and why we just can't seem to give up certain foods no matter how hard we try.  Sugar, wheat, meat and dairy cause spikes in dopamine that cause addictive cycles much like what we see in other addictions like drugs, alcohol, and sex.  Check out what I found on Web MD:

"Neal Barnard, MD, for example, says he believes that cheese, meat, chocolate, and sugar are addictive foods in the diets of millions of Americans. Barnard, the author of Breaking the Food Seduction and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says that these foods contain chemical compounds that stimulate the brain's secretion of opiate-like, "feel-good" chemicals like dopamine, which drive our cravings for them.
Alan Goldhamer, DC, co-author of The Pleasure Trap and director of TrueNorth Health Center in Rohnert Park, Calif., agrees. "A large percentage of the population is vulnerable to the effects of this hyperstimulation [from foods that trigger dopamine production], and they get caught up in an addictive cycle," he says. But unlike the addiction to drugs, which is widely acknowledged, this problem remains largely unrecognized, according to proponents of the food addiction theory."
source *http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/break-your-food-addictions

So what do you think?  As a former sugar addict, I know I was like a crack head when I came off the stuff.  Same with caffeine and wheat.  Now what about meat and dairy?  Are they addicting too and is that why I am having such a difficult time removing them from my diet permanently?  Very important food for thought.   

Here are my addictive eating scenarios:
Vegetarian- still addicted to wheat, dairy, and sugar
Vegan (the first few go arounds)- still addicted to wheat and sugar
Standard American Diet- addicted to everything in sight
Candida diet- still addicted to meat and dairy
Raw Vegan and Paleo- would still indulge in meat and dairy
Now I wouldn't say I am an alcoholic, but alcohol has been present in my life during all of these dietary stages.  It is clear that it is addictive and can lower your inhibitions and make you more likely to indulge in things like cocaine, that extra piece of cheesecake, or in my case, meat and dairy.

I'm really thinking this might be thesis material for me.  I am seriously considering giving up alcohol, meat, and dairy cold turkey for an entire year to see if I can overcome cravings and get my body to the point where it is operating at optimal awesome. The way I look at it, if my body is operating optimally, I should crave kale and apples, not vodka martinis and steaks.  My body should be looking for nutrient rich foods, not crap.  When I was vegetarian, I didn't crave meat, but I had other addictive foods to go to for comfort and dopamine/opiate rushes.  When I took out sugar and wheat, my go-to addictive foods have been meat and dairy.  Do you see what I'm getting at?  Is this why there is such a struggle for me to align my ethics with my body?  Such interesting things to think about.

 I want your thoughts. And if you think this is bullshit, you will not hurt my feelings, I really want opinions, experiences, and ideas about this even if they are contrary to my own.  

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