Are you addicted to foods that are harmful?
Food addiction is very powerful and food addiction is what caused your gout in the first place. Despite your best intentions, you probably find yourself eating large amounts of unhealthy foods despite the fact that you know it causes you harm. How come? Well it all has to do with your brain. The same way that drug addicts are addicted to drugs or alcoholics are addicted to alcohol, food addiction affects the same areas in the brain, involving the same neurotransmitters and many of the symptoms are identical.
So how does this work exactly?
Processed foods or foods high in salt or sugar for example have a powerful effect on what we call the reward centers of the brain involving neurotransmitters like dopamine. Addiction to let’s say Coca-Cola is not about the lack of willpower or anything like that. It’s caused by the strong dopamine signal hijacking the actual biochemistry of your brain. My fellow gout sufferer, there are many studies that state that food addiction is a real problem and not pseudo-science.
Have you ever had a craving for ice cream or something salty like chips? Maybe fries or a chocolate bar? Frequent cravings of a certain food are one of the symptoms of food addiction. Other symptoms include eating the desired food to the point where you feel excessively stuffed or eating more of the food than you intended to. It happens to me from time to time and boy do I regret it after.
Feeling guilty is another symptom of food addiction because you know what you ate isn’t good for you. You make excuses to yourself about why you should eat that chocolate bar. Then what happens? You feel unable to control your consumption of all this garbage food despite the fact that you know that this food causes you harm not to mention weight gain. Do you feel so guilty that you often hide your unhealthy eating habits from others? Then if you’ve answered yes, you are addicted to unhealthy foods high in fat, sugar and sodium which are most likely processed.
That’s the reason why 7 out of 10 Americans are on some type of prescription drugs. We are sick! Food addiction can cause lots of physical harm and leads to serious diseases like gout, diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and many many others. This a serious problem that ruins lives and kills thousands of people every single year. In my opinion, food addiction is just as bad as any other drug addiction, whether it’d be cocaine, heroin or crystal meth. I know many people that have died in their 40s and 50s (way too young) due to bad eating habits. Think about it…
Food Industry = Drug Pushers
The food industry works very hard to hook you, they are like drug pushers, they excel at hitting the sweet spot making you crave more of a food when testing their products for market. That’s why if you look at food labels at the supermarket, you’ll notice how most foods are high in sugar or sodium. The food industry wants you to get used to high sugar in order to feel satisfied, so you’ll come back and buy more and more of it. Truth is they know you’ll be back. They’ve spent millions of dollars researching how to make foods more addictive so they can increase profits. There’s a good book I strongly recommend if you want to learn more about how the food industry has hooked us called Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by author Michael Moss.
Here’s a quote from Michael Moss:
“I was totally surprised,” he said. “I spent time with the top scientists at the largest companies in this country and it’s amazing how much math and science and regression analysis and energy they put into finding the very perfect amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products that will send us over the moon, and will send their products flying off the shelves and have us buy more, eat more and …make more money for them.” “Salt, sugar and fat are the three pillars of the processed food industry,” he goes on to say.
If you feel like you are addicted to certain type of foods and want to quit, then here a few suggestions.
- Don’t start off by going cold turkey. I love ice cream for example but I don’t have zero tolerance on it. I’ll enjoy a some ice cream occasionally but I don’t eat it almost everyday like I used to once upon a time.
- Control what you shop at the grocery store. I don’t buy junk foods or processed foods that I know taste good. That keeps me in check at home, whenever I check the cupboards or fridge, I never find any foods that will harm my health and worsen my gout. Sometimes if I’m craving something sweet, I try to fight the craving with a small piece of dark chocolate or some raisins.
- Limit temptation by avoiding some of your favorite restaurants or bakery you used to buy those apple crumb pies from. Don’t return to the scene of the crime.
- Retrain your brain by reducing your portion sizes. This may seem hard in the beginning but over time your brain will get used to it. Switch to smaller plates and bowls and you’ll notice a difference after a few weeks. Great hack to lose weight as well!
- You’ll need to restore your sensitivity to flavors by eating less of the harmful foods and with time you’ll notice that when you eat your old favorite chocolate bar, that it’s too sweet now, cause your tastebuds got adjusted. This will lessen your desire for sugar, fat or salt over time. Discipline is key!
- You have to learn to eat only when you are hungry, I know cause sometimes I’ll eat when I’m bored and notice I’m putting food in my mouth to kill off some time. Avoid this! Trick is eat when you start to feel hungry, don’t wait until you are famished because that’s when you will over-eat and stuff yourself. Eat until you are comfortably satisfied. Trick here is to eat slowly and properly chew your food. This gives your brain more time to process the signals from your stomach.
- Exercising regularly will create a positive addiction! Yes, cheeseburgers and chocolate ice cream aren’t the only things that stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain. Exercise or sports raise dopamine levels and increases the number of dopamine receptors in the brain. Best part of all is you won’t feel any guilt after exercising.
- Watch your emotions! If you are feeling sad, angry or bored, do not soothe yourself with food. Many of us have fallen for this in the past but try your best to control your emotions. You don’t want to go eating an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting.
Posted by Spiro Koulouris