Weight Loss Support - Food Addiction




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Shadowcat1978
10-17-2009, 08:04 PM
Hi everyone, I think it's been several years since I've posted in the forum. I'm taking a class in college about drugs and society, and I had a moment of insight. We are learning about different drugs and how they affect the body and the chemicals in the brain. Is it possible to have a chemical addiction to food the same way a person can be addicted to a drug?

I have been trying to read as much info as I can get, but I can't find alot. I have had a weight problem all my life (since I was a teenager), and it just keeps worsening. I'm not trying to find an excuse for it, but figure out a way to take care of it.

I've realized that there are many many times when I feel like I "need" certain foods. I physically crave certain foods, even when my stomach is not hungry. I think about food way too much, what I want to eat, what I "should" or "shouldn't" eat, when to eat, how much, when I can eat next, etc.

Does anyone else have this kind of experience? Does anyone have any info on food addiction and how it affects brain chemicals? Does anyone have any advice that could help me?

I was looking into Overeaters Anonymous, but feel uncomfortable with having a "higher power" as a central focus.

I also purchased a book titled "Food Addiction: The Body Knows", but haven't started reading it yet.

I've gotten to a point where I want to focus on being healthy, not on being a specific size or weight.


ubergirl
10-17-2009, 09:38 PM
Hi Shadow Cat,

Try the book Overcoming Overeating, by David Kessler. He goes into a lot of detail about why we overeat from a chemical/biological standpoint.

I found it really helpful and interesting and I think you will too.

luckymommy
10-18-2009, 12:40 AM
I don't have any studies, nor do I know the facts....however, I can completely relate to the food addiction part. I actually did go to several OA meetings and I found them to be somewhat helpful. However, I didn't stick with it.

I am a food addict for sure and what I find helps me is the following:

1. Separate food from emotions. If I want to eat and I'm not hungry, I tell myself it's emotions and I go do something else. Or, I have a piece of gum or a cup of frozen grapes. I have to know what to do because when this happens, I have no sense of logic.

2. County my calories. I keep a food log and a calorie count. This way, I am in control, instead of feeling out of control.

3. Exercise. It helps me keep my mind focused on my goal.

4. Examine why I need to fill a void with food. Of course I love the way food tastes, but that is not why I'm fat. There are plenty of thin people who love to eat good food. I am constantly trying to analyze this part of myself. I think it's a lack of feeling in control in my life. It's as if some part of me is a rebel/child and wants to have what it wants and wants it now!!! However, I must be the adult in the body and realize that when I binge, I am depriving myself of the life that I want...rather than thinking that I'm depriving myself of the food I want.

5. Finally (sorry this got so long!), I take it one day at a time. I try not to think too far into the future. When I used to binge on foods, nothing was good enough...I kept searching for the perfect binge food and I could never find it and truth be told, I didn't really enjoy my food because I ate everything (in mass quantities) in secret. It was horrible. I gained 70 lbs. in less than one year. I remind myself of these things every single day. With my history, I cannot allow myself to ever think that I"m cured of my obsession with food. However, now...I can channel it into something that works for me. I am still constantly thinking about food, but now, I'm the boss of my thoughts about food.

Again, I'm sorry this got so long. I just relate to this a great deal and it pains me to have had to endure it and I hope you will find a way to help yourself because it is not a fun way to live, to say the least!


Stella
10-18-2009, 06:30 AM
I don`t think you can be addicted to food in general, but I`m convinced you can be addicted to certain substances in food - sugar, salt, additives.

If we have a binge problem, we always binge on things which contain those, it`s never apples or other wholesome foods.

TamiL
10-18-2009, 07:34 AM
I guess food can be an addiction, just like drugs, alcohol and sex. I do not have a food binge issue, quite the opposite, I avoid food unless I am starving. On the other hand I am addicted to smoking, I have to avoid alcohol because I can't stop once the bottle is open and I have other odd addictions as well. Our brains are fascinating organs and I really think there is something in our brains chemical balance that causes us to behave the way we do.

QuilterInVA
10-18-2009, 11:03 AM
If you don't feed the cravings, they will stop. A craving lasts about 15 minutes. Get busy and do something and you'll find it is gone. The less you eat that food, the fewer cravings you will have. I think some of what we think are cravings or addiction are really habits - we always get a candy bar in the check out long. Pretty soon we say we crave chocolate. We've just trained ourselves to expect it.

luckymommy
10-18-2009, 11:25 AM
I think that we are all here for a similar purpose, but for a variety of reasons. For example, I truly believe I am a food addict, while one of my best friends is an over eater. She'll eat too much of this and too much of that, but it's not the same level of desperation that I feel and she agrees with me.

Here is some information on food addiction...there is a lot more, but here's a sample:

Research has shown that food addiction is a biogenetic condition. Dedicated to understanding the biological/genetic basis of alcohol addiction, Dr. Ernest Noble and colleagues at UCLA have linked dopamine receptor D2 A1 to addiction. Previously linked to alcohol, cocaine and nicotine addiction, the A1 form of the reward/pleasure gene DRD2 has also been linked to carbohydrate craving and compulsive eating. Noble and his team found that a deficit of these dopamine receptors would cause subjects to be reward or pleasure deficient. To compensate for this deficiency, they discovered that alcohol activated the fewer D2 dopamine receptors stimulating the dopamine reward or pleasure system. According to Dr. Noble, “It is well established that food (particularly carbohydrates), like alcohol, when consumed, increases brain dopamine levels.” He and his team conducted and published a study in 1994, where they found the DRD2 A1 allele to be associated with obesity. “Thus,” he says, “individuals with the A1 allele, having a paucity of D2 dopamine receptors, have a deficiency in their dopamine brain reward system. To compensate for this state, they consume excessive amounts of food which eventuates in the development of obesity” (Noble, 2009; Noble et. al., 1994).

Using brain imaging techniques, neuroscientist Gene-Jack Wang, MD, observed that overeating behavior in morbidly obese individuals is similar to the loss of control and compulsive drug use seen in drug-addicted subjects. He and his team used PET scans to see if obese subjects had similar brain deficits. They measured brain dopamine reward/pleasure receptor levels in subjects with body mass index more than 40. They found these morbidly obese subjects had reductions in dopamine receptors, which were similar to those they observed in drug-addicted subjects (Wang, 2009).

I found this information to be interesting. It's very easy to dismiss the possibility of food addiction, unless one has experienced it themselves. In our society, we are so quick to blame a fat person for their predicament. That is not to say that all overweight people are food addicts. Not at all. But, there are some who truly are and my sympathies are with them and anyone else who struggles with weight, addiction, etc. I'm doing my best to overcome this problem, but if for one second, I convince myself that I don't have a food addiction (which I have tried to pretend many times before), I am going to be in biiiig trouble.

kuhrisuh
10-18-2009, 12:32 PM
I have those same thoughts on a daily basis.. I do believe it's possible to be addicted to food. And I think for people that are, it's really scary. I also know that any addiction can be overcome. Just like quitting smoking or using some drug.. it's gonna be hard, but it's possible. Keep your head up!

kuhrisuh
10-18-2009, 12:38 PM
...However, I must be the adult in the body and realize that when I binge, I am depriving myself of the life that I want...rather than thinking that I'm depriving myself of the food I want....

Very well said.

Stella
10-18-2009, 12:49 PM
I really don`t think that you can be addicted to genuine (e.g. natural whole-) food although I quite believe that you can be addicted to eating.

ringmaster
10-18-2009, 04:29 PM
yes, I've read a few times cheese has a drug like effect..it's probably why pizza is a big binge trigger food for some people. And carbs do release feel good chemicals.

I'm not sure about natural whole foods not being addictive,.. chocolate is natural, but maybe chocolate is just addictive in it's processed and sugared up form?

I couldn't find the past articles I read..but I found this

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=498663058&blogId=511999919

StephanieM
10-18-2009, 04:51 PM
I'm addicted to eating. It's a big problem for me.

I always want to taste something good, so if I'm not occupied with something, I eat, and eat, and eat. The highlight of my day after work is coming home, having a smoke, and making a nice meal. And I eat the meal. And then I eat other food, then I'm making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich and eating it in bed before I go to sleep.

I'm trying to combat that by finding a good natural appetite suppresent, something to make me feel full quicker and not think about food. Though feeling full hasn't stopped me from eating before.

It's definately an uphill battle.

Shadowcat1978
10-20-2009, 01:36 PM
Thank you everyone for all the info and advice, I really appreciate it.

ubergirl: I did a search on David Kessler and found a book called "The End of Overeating". Is that the one you meant? Anyway, I picked it up and have started reading it. I'm only on the first chapter, but it is really interesting so far.

luckymommy: It's great to find someone who can relate to what I am going through. Thank you for sharing with me some of the things that have helped you, and the info on the DRD2 gene. I wonder why this info isn't more widely known?

stella: What you are saying makes sense. The book I just started reading says that eating sugar fat and salt causes us to want to eat more sugar fat and salt.

tamil: Yes, our brains are so fascinatingly complex. Even though there is so much we have learned over the years about it, there is much more that we still don't understand about how it works.

quilterinva: What do you do when the craving keeps coming back, even after ignoring it? I've had cravings that occur on and off for several days.

kuhrisuh: Thanks for the encouragement. Even though I always knew I had a weight problem for most of my life, I never even thought that it could be a food addiction until just recently.

ringmaster: Cheese is definitely one of my favorite foods. And the ingredient in cheese that the blog mentions, casein, is an ingredient I've seen listed in other foods too.

stephaniemuirhead: Yeah, it's really hard. I hate having my mind often consumed with thoughts of food.

Lori Bell
10-20-2009, 02:14 PM
I was looking into Overeaters Anonymous, but feel uncomfortable with having a "higher power" as a central focus.


Just an FYI

OA as well as the other Anonymous 12 step programs are nondenominational. You do not have to believe in "God" to become a member, you just need to admit that you are powerless over your addiction and that you need help.

A "higher power" is anything you feel is greater than yourself. I've never known an atheist to be kicked out of a 12 step program.

Stella
10-21-2009, 02:25 AM
stella: What you are saying makes sense. The book I just started reading says that eating sugar fat and salt causes us to want to eat more sugar fat and salt.


Is it Jason Vale`s "Slim for life" that you are reading? My diet was always healthy (apart from the quantities I ate...), but this book really made a difference to my life!! As I started to eat even more wholesomely, the quantities I need have lessened so much!

Stella

quicinsuc
10-21-2009, 03:52 AM
I really don`t think that you can be addicted to genuine (e.g. natural whole-) food although I quite believe that you can be addicted to eating.


Good work !
Very cool, looking great so far. Keep going, I wanna see it finished!;)

MoveMoveMove
10-21-2009, 08:10 PM
12 step programs are spriritual but belief in God is not required for membership.

The higher power (HP) you embrace is up to you. For some, the "act as if method" is used in choosing God as your HP. But when I was active in OA I knew people who used the following as their HP: a door knob (because that is what they used to pull themselves up off the floor after eating so much they made themselves sick), a toilet (because that's where they ended up after they over-ate, binged, or purged), the largest piece of clothing they owned (because they never wanted to have to buy anything larger), the OA meeting itself, the AA big book, a loving supportive friend or significant other, a journal.

Who/what your HP is is totally up to you and no one but you needs to know who/what it is.

The only requirement for membership in a 12 step program is the desire to stop the compulsive behavior.

Also, OA is not just for people who are overweight. It is for anyone with food issues.

Boomcha
10-28-2009, 04:38 PM
One aspect of food addiction/cravings/overweight that doesn't get discussed very often is food sensitivity/intolerance. Paradoxically we crave the foods that we're most sensitive to - most common are wheat, gluten, dairy etc.

You can either eliminate the offending food or eliminate the intolerance and it will have a massive impact on managing craving/bingeing cycles.

There are a few ways you can determine intolerances. There is an elimination diet which isolates and reintroduces the most common offenders. There is also a blood test called an ALCAT.

Personally I chose a holistic allergist who used biofeedback and then a technique called Bioenergetic Intolerance Elimination. I had done this for my evironmental allergies and the results were pretty amazing (i.e. had developed an allergy to my dog that's completely gone, no suffering through ragweed season this year). The quack sites call it BS but since there are no needles and it worked for me I don't give a rat's *** lol.

When I was tested for food intolerances I was shocked - SO MANY :(

I've done treatments for everything from wheat to turkey to cherries and they've made not only a huge impact on my once emotionally-driven cravings enabling me to stick to my plan, but also my asthma and um, regularity.

I'd highly recommend anyone with 'trigger foods' check for underlying intolerances.

WildThings
10-28-2009, 06:24 PM
One aspect of food addiction/cravings/overweight that doesn't get discussed very often is food sensitivity/intolerance. Paradoxically we crave the foods that we're most sensitive to - most common are wheat, gluten, dairy etc.

You can either eliminate the offending food or eliminate the intolerance and it will have a massive impact on managing craving/bingeing cycles.

There are a few ways you can determine intolerances. There is an elimination diet which isolates and reintroduces the most common offenders. There is also a blood test called an ALCAT.

Personally I chose a holistic allergist who used biofeedback and then a technique called Bioenergetic Intolerance Elimination. I had done this for my evironmental allergies and the results were pretty amazing (i.e. had developed an allergy to my dog that's completely gone, no suffering through ragweed season this year). The quack sites call it BS but since there are no needles and it worked for me I don't give a rat's *** lol.

When I was tested for food intolerances I was shocked - SO MANY :(

I've done treatments for everything from wheat to turkey to cherries and they've made not only a huge impact on my once emotionally-driven cravings enabling me to stick to my plan, but also my asthma and um, regularity.

I'd highly recommend anyone with 'trigger foods' check for underlying intolerances.

Food sensitivities and intolerances are so difficult to explain to others. It has really taken me two different doctors, years of research and trial/error to really understand the extent of my sensitivities. I have systematic candida related complex. I am severely intolerant of corn, wheat, dairy, mold, chemicals, preservatives...not to mention the yeast feeds on any kind of sugars which eliminates all types of sugar (natural and real), fruit, and very starchy vegetables. It's actually scary the hold these foods, especially the sugar can have. When I cut it out, I get physically ill...the cravings are terrible and the yeast gets angry.

Mel
10-28-2009, 07:13 PM
I heartily second the recommendation of David Kessler's book. I read it, and felt like I knew intuitively everything that he was saying, but it was good to read it coming from a well respected research scientist. There are many references to studies in the book that can lead you to further reading.

Here is another scientific study: http://www.isi.uu.nl/Research/Publications/publicationview.php?id=1273

And an abstract of another study with other references: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/139/3/620

I can't find it right now, but I remember seeing pictures of fMRI scans of cocaine addicts and "food addicts" and the parts of the brain that were lit up were identical.

Mel

Boomcha
10-29-2009, 10:25 AM
Food sensitivities and intolerances are so difficult to explain to others. It has really taken me two different doctors, years of research and trial/error to really understand the extent of my sensitivities. I have systematic candida related complex. I am severely intolerant of corn, wheat, dairy, mold, chemicals, preservatives...not to mention the yeast feeds on any kind of sugars which eliminates all types of sugar (natural and real), fruit, and very starchy vegetables. It's actually scary the hold these foods, especially the sugar can have. When I cut it out, I get physically ill...the cravings are terrible and the yeast gets angry.

Food intolerances can manifest in so many ways. For me, I never would have associated food as an underlying cause of my asthma or sneezing/itchy watery eyes allergy attacks. I assumed food allergies would only cause digestive pain and upset, which it does for some people. Other people have skin problems like eczema or acne, or migraines, or arthritis or chronic candida. They can cause a variety of systemic and chronic problems.

That's why I went for BIE rather than an emlination diet - which would have left me miserable with very few choices and high probability of non-compliance. Rather than manage around intolerances, I got rid of them.

Now I don't have to worry about where gluten or yeast lurks. I can eat a piece of pizza without worrying about immune response or the cascading (and lasting) carb craving effect.

Shadowcat1978
09-30-2010, 01:44 PM
It's been almost a year since I started this thread, and I feel like I finally "get it". I did end up reading David Kessler's "The End of Overeating" in addition to "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan and "Mastering Your Metabolism" by Jillian Michaels. It has really helped me to have a better understanding of how different components of food, and chemicals added to food, affect the brain and body. I started following the advice from these different books, along with learning to be more attuned to my body, and I've started losing weight. I mainly just try to eat as few processed foods as possible, and try to eat more whole foods. I also try to keep all of my meals balanced with protein, carbs, and fruits/veggies. It's easier for me now to tell when I feel physically full, and I don't have the extreme cravings for food that I had before. Now that my body is getting used to eating "real foods" again, I sometimes get sick if I try to eat fast food. The other day I was in a rush getting to school and I grabbed a meal at Burger King. I ended up feeling semi-nauseous and sluggish after eating it.
So I do want to keep up my new-found way of eating, and I want to start posting in the forums somewhat regularly for support because I think it will help me even more. I don't really know where I should post. I would like to join a group, but which one?