The Truth About Food Addiction

Is Food Addictive?

Anyone who has ever drowned their sorrows in a pint of ice cream will already know the answer to that question. But I am interested in the actual SCIENTIFIC answer to that question. On a cellular level, does food cause addiction? The answer, quite simply, is yes. But, there are a myriad of variables that factor into this equation. What CAUSES addiction to food? Is it what most people think, overconsumption? Or does it go deeper than that? Looking at the clinical definition of “addiction”, we find that it means “the continued repetition of a behavior, despite adverse consequences”. Anyone who has ever been overweight, or obese will tell you that they WANT to stop eating, but that they somehow “can’t”. No one wants to be obese. This is best exemplified by obese children.

What is the Cause?

We love to reward ourselves with food, which is driving most of these behaviors if not all of them. You may be surprised to learn consumption of sugar and “chemical sugars” such as aspartame, sucralose, and dextrose to name a few, are nearly identical to doing drugs. Shocking, isn’t it?

What Foods Cause Addiction?

The Western diet. You may find this very interesting, I did. Scientists have found opioid activity in wheat, barley, and dairy.

In milk, there is also beta-casomorphin 7, which is an opioid. Remember your mother’s suggestion to ‘drink warm milk’ before bed, to help ease the pain and help you sleep? Turns out that that was scientifically accurate. Why do people have such a hard time giving up dairy and grains? It’s because of these addictive properties and compounds found within. Most elements in nutrition have a biochemical and scientific basis. The Paleo world is well aware of the multitude of problems found in dairy and grains. However, the wider world is completely unaware that their “healthy whole grains” are causing an addiction in their brain and nervous system.

Junk Food

It will probably be less shocking to you to learn that junk food is addictive. The advertisements of “bet you can’t eat just one” or “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is all too accurate, scientifically. As Mat Lalonde, organic chemist Ph.D from Harvard, has put it, “we are living in a world where food chemists make foods addictive for more consumption”. Reading that, it is terrifying and saddening. And too accurate. “Connecticut College students and a professor of psychology have found “America’s favorite cookie” is just as addictive as cocaine – at least for lab rats Oreos have been proven to be EQUALLY as addictive as cocaine.” Down right scary!!!!! 

There are many ingredients responsible for making junk food addictive. The ingredients are salt, sugar, and fat. You will find that they are most commonly used in combination with each other, which is not an accident. Donuts are loaded with fat AND sugar. Potato chips are loaded with fat AND salt. Typically we will not over consume foods that are ONLY fat, ONLY salt, or ONLY sugar. Food companies and food chemists know this, and they use it to THEIR advantage, not yours. Couple that with deceptive marketing, ever-increasing portion sizes and an increasingly unhealthy culture. You have yourself a recipe for where our population is today.

As any obese person can tell you they feel ‘out of control’ and struggle greatly to change their behavior. They say this despite their knowledge of their behavior causing the most damage. That sounds eerily similar to a drug addict’s patterns. 

If you are in need of nutritional counseling we are here to help. We also offer Digital Personal Training programs to assist you with meeting your physical fitness goals.