Are you suffering from food addiction?
Researchers from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity validated a “food addiction” scale.(i) Here are a few of the points on the scale that are used to determine if you have a food addiction. Does any of this sound familiar? If it does you may be an “industrial food addict.”
- I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned.
- Not eating certain types of food or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.
- I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or lethargic from overeating.
- There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often or in such large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreational activities I enjoy.
- I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.
- Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.
- I have had withdrawal symptoms when I cut down or stopped eating certain foods (please do NOT include withdrawal symptoms caused by cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as soda pop, coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.). For example: Developing physical symptoms, feeling agitated, or feeling anxious.
- My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress.
- I experience significant problems in my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social activities, family activities, health difficulties) because of food and eating.
For those with personal struggles with food addiction, remember it is not a moral failing or lack of willpower. Here are five suggestions I offer my patients to help them break their food addictions.
1. Balance your blood sugar: Research studies say that low blood sugar levels are associated with LOWER overall blood flow to the brain, which means more BAD decisions. To keep your blood sugar stable:
- Eat a nutritious breakfast with some protein like eggs, protein shake or nut butters. Studies repeatedly show that eating a healthy breakfast helps people maintain weight loss.
- Have smaller meals throughout the day. Eat every 3-4 hours and have some protein with each snack or meal (lean animal protein, nuts, seeds, or beans).
- Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.
2. Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners and your cravings will go away: Go cold turkey. Eliminate refined sugars, sodas, fruit juices, and artificial sweeteners from your diet, as these can trigger cravings.
3. Determine if hidden food allergies are triggering your cravings: We often crave the very foods that we have a hidden allergy to.
4. Get 7-8 hours of sleep: Research shows that lack of sleep increases cravings.
5. Optimize Your Nutrient Status:
- Optimize your vitamin D level: According to one study, when vitamin D levels are low, the hormone that helps turn off, your appetite, doesn’t work and people feel hungry all the time, no matter how much they eat.
- Optimize omega 3’s: Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity.
- Consider taking natural supplements for cravings control. Glutamine, tyrosine, and 5-HTP are amino acids that help reduce cravings. Stress reducing herbs such as rhodiola can help. Chromium balances blood sugar and can help take the edge off cravings.Glucomannan fiber is very helpful to reduce the spikes in sugar and insulin that drive cravings and hunger.