3 September, 2013

Understanding Food Addiction

Food addiction is a controversial topic. After all, food is necessary for survival, so it is difficult to compare eating with habits like drinking or smoking. However, the foods we often eat are not the foods our body needs. We require a great deal of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to thrive, and yet many of the food we consume daily are deprived of nutritional value.

So why do we keep turning to these foods? While their taste plays a factor, there are some who say that our bodies actually crave these foods—like an addiction.

What is Food Addiction?

Food addiction is defined as the uncontrollable craving for excess food. When a person is addicted to food they continue to eat despite feelings of fullness. This is a deep-seated behavior that is not easily overcome through will-power or self-control. However, food addiction is highly treatable. Using tools like weight loss surgery can help individuals lose weight and overcome food addiction.

Researchers from Boston’s Children Hospital published a study in early 2013 that gives new credence to the diagnosis of food addiction. The researchers evaluated the connection between the pleasure centers of the brain and the consumption of certain foods. Specifically, high-glycemic, highly-processed foods were found to trigger certain pleasure-inducing areas of the brain—the same regions of the brain that are associated with substance abuse and addiction.

What researchers emphasize is that food addiction isn’t to just any food in general. Food addiction is prompted by foods like:

  • White bread
  • Potatoes chips
  • French fries
  • Ice cream
  • Cake
  • Chocolate bars
  • Soda

These types of foods are prevalent throughout the American diet. Fast food restaurants are full of them, and that could indicate why it is so difficult to resist the drive-thru window. These foods have properties that make them biologically difficult to resist. But the more you resist them, the easier they become to avoid.

Avoiding Addictive Foods

When you get Lap Band or gastric sleeve surgery, you won’t have to struggle with hunger as often. This will make eating healthier a bit easier, as you can more easily take control over your diet without focusing on your cravings. However, that isn’t to say the cravings won’t come.

After weight loss surgery it may help you to develop strategies to help you stand strong against your cravings. Remember, the more you avoid a certain food, the weaker the craving for it will become.

Fight cravings by:

  • Changing your route home: If a certain restaurant is difficult to drive past, then change your route home. It might add a few minutes to your commute, but it might also keep you on track with your diet.
  • Avoiding the topic: The more you think about it, the more you’ll crave it. Don’t give in to the thought. Try to push it out of your head by listening to music or watching a video.
  • Having a meal plan: When you already have a plan of what you are going to eat, you are less likely to stray from that plan for a craving.
  • Get an accountability partner: Find a friend who is also interested in losing weight and buddy-up. When you have a craving, give them a call to get the encouragement to overcome it.

Addictive foods are generally high in salt, sugar and/or fat, and so these are the foods that are most commonly craved. You can avoid foods like these by sticking to your weight loss surgeon’s post-bariatric diet plan.