Is addiction normal - Why binge eating is part of human nature.

Food addiction is a topic that not often talked about, and for the most part, it's viewed as not a real condition, however that couldn't be further from the truth. 

Food addiction is at the very core of why so many people rarely find success when it comes to dieting and losing weight. 

Often people think it is merely due to a lack of willpower or that they have not found the right diet; not ever considering that they could be physically addicted to the foods they consume. 

The word addiction alone can conjure up images of individuals strung out on drugs willing to sacrifice anything for another hit; it's this thinking that can lead a food addict to believe that there is no way they can be addicted to food. 

Fortunately, there is now more and more research being done on the subject and scientists now have evidence showing that highly refined food products affect our brain's chemistry the same way as drugs do. 

Our minds are very much programmed by an ancient code that is chemically hard-wired in our brain to ensure our survival. 

Like mostly all animals on the planet the primary goals of survival are as such; 

  1. Seek pleasure. Find the most nutrient dense, calorically high, delicious food possible and or anything that can induce large amounts of joy, e.g., sex, drugs. 

  2. Avoid pain. At all cost find ways to avoid all physical and or emotional distress. 

  3. Conserve energy. As you are seeking pleasure and avoiding pain make sure you do this with the minimal amount of effort possible to conserve the most amount of energy

Throughout evolution, humans and animals that succeed the most at these 3 steps ultimately survived and passed on their genes to the next generation. 

Listen, the fact that you could easily be happy and satisfied eating chips and chocolate all day, while binge-watching Netflix and only getting up to refill your pop or pee; is not your fault. 

Technically you are successfully genetically achieving your most basic survival needs. The only problem is that our environment no longer resembles that of our ancestors, finding calorically dense food now takes minutes not hours or days or even weeks. 

Seeking pleasure is now instant, and only a click away and both these things can be done without hardly any effort at all. 

We no longer have to walk for miles to get food or outrun danger or search for mates; we may be living in a modern world with all its many convinces, but we are walking around with a caveman mentality. 

Unfortunately, food companies are well aware of our primitive mental programming when it comes to food; and they specially design food to be hyper-concentrated as possible, that when ingested these foods can easily hijack our brains, making it very difficult to escape this trap.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is at the core of our pleasure-seeking center. When dopamine is released into the brain, it gives us a feeling of euphoria and happiness signaling to the brain to "get more" or "do more" of whatever that was, cause it's incredible and we need to keep doing that. 

The problem here is that, at one point in time, a banana could have triggered this dopamine reaction in the brain, and hat would have been all fine and dandy.  But when super concentrated foods came along, all of a sudden, a humble little banana just won't do.  Our minds know we can get a better so-called "fix" from other foods, and over time healthy foods don't do it for us anymore. 

For thousands of years, people have chewed coca leaves as a mild stimulant without any evidence of addiction. But, take these same leaves in their natural state and remove individual components, isolate and concentrate them, and presto, cocaine, and now we’ve got a big problem. 

The same is now true of sugar, a single banana will not set us up for a full-on binge, but a king size candy bar and pop are designed to do just that. 

Much like drug use the repeated use of substances that spike dopamine levels over time burn out our receptors, in turn, causing us to need more and stronger doses to get that same level of satisfaction; hence why food addicts are not satisfied with just one piece of cake. 

As with most addictions, the most "simplest" cure is abstinence. However, it's one thing for an alcoholic to say, "I don't drink" but you can't really say "I'm a food addict, I don't eat." 

We need food as a form of basic survival, and unfortunately, our world is not set up for our success. 

So how can we break free from the trap if entirely giving up food is not an option? 

We may not be able to give up eating, but we can give up certain foods we eat. I understand from personal experience this is clearly harder than it sounds, and this is evident in the millions of people that are overweight and who have tried thousands of diets still to no avail. 

The 3 major foods additives to avoid are sugar, oil, and salt. By removing the bulk of processed foods from your diet and learning to read labels carefully, you can begin to re-sensitize your brain and taste buds. 

Opting for whole, unprocessed food, or foods that have fewer ingredients quality plant proteins and healthy fats. Eating regular meals to avoid snacking and cravings and finding a Why or Purpose in your life will help you to reach your goals.  

Remember, recovery does not get days off, it is a lifelong commitment and something that requires daily practice and effort. 

The solution is not another diet but rather to create a new way of eating. The process starts by changing the way you view yourself and your reason for wanting to lose weight. When you begin to see your weight loss as a new journey that you are embarking on for life; you are then able to make small, consistent changes, knowing that you will eventually reach your destination. 

The road to recovery is a journey and never easy, but by changing the foods we eat, our daily habits and with proper support and coaching, success is achieved. 

To get started and to be a part of a heart centered support group for women wanting to lose weight and overcome food addictions.

Join my new Food Over Mood Facebook group

And remember... Little steps in a new direction lead to bigger and better destinations. 

I love hearing from you guys. Let me know below in the comments, if you too have struggled with trying to live up to others beliefs.

Love and Wellness