Food Can Be An Addiction

The idea that a person can be addicted to food has recently gotten more support from science.

20131004-000533.jpg

Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in:

Sugar
Fat
Salt

The right combination of these three items causes addiction and many food companies have scientists who have figured this out and designed foods to “hook” people.

Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again.

The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.

People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.

Scientists believe that food addiction may play an important role in obesity. But normal-weight people may also struggle with food addiction. Their bodies may simply be genetically programmed to better handle the extra calories they take in. Or they may increase their physical activity to compensate for overeating.

People who are addicted to food will continue to eat despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or damaged relationships. And like people who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted to food will have trouble stopping their behavior, even if they want to or have tried many times to cut back.

Once you have managed to get through a diet, or weight loss, you will find that there are triggers that cause you to relapse and eat the wrong foods.

You will encounter triggers in the form of events, people, and subsequent emotions that will make you want to drink or get high again. What can you do in these situations?

5 ways of managing triggers during recovery from addiction:

1. Identify your personal triggers.

Everyone is different, so every recovering addict’s set of triggers will be different as well. Some common triggers are walking by a bar, seeing someone who is drunk or high, getting paid, the end of a grueling workday, getting into an argument with someone, and being bored.

2. Know what you are working with.

Triggers and cravings are a very real part of recovery. Do not try to fool yourself into thinking that they will not happen to you. Instead, know your triggers, stay open to anything that may surprise you, and have a plan for when you feel yourself being triggered.

3. Come up with and Prepare your trigger plan.

Role play, even just with yourself in the mirror, what you will do when you feel like using again. You may save yourself from a rough day, a temporary lapse, or a full relapse back to substance abuse.

4. Take care of yourself.

You can handle triggers more easily when you are eating and sleeping well, exercising, and remaining aware of your emotions.

Don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable to overbearing.

Watch out for H.A.L.T.:
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
These four things are said to cause more lapses and relapses.

When you are taking care of yourself you can identify when you feel any of the four, and that is when you can take action.

Act, don’t React!

The trigger may be emotionally affecting you, but you will not act on it.

If you are hungry, you will eat. Tired? Take a nap or at least rest your eyes or meditate. Lonely and angry can be a little harder to manage, but phone a friend (or your sponsor) and talk it out.

5. Do not test yourself.

If you know that walking by a donut shop is a definite trigger for you, for example, then do not knowingly walk by one to see if your recovery is as strong as you believe it to be. Maybe that time you are able to avoid going into the shop. But the seed of a trigger is planted. Something else you have not identified yet as a trigger can occur, and the combination can lead you right to a donut.

There is no need to test yourself. When you identify your current triggers, are aware of what you are working with, practice a plan, and employ good self-care, you are managing your triggers during recovery from addiction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s