Tag Archives: food addiction

Are You A Food Addict?

19 Jun

Here is a short video on food addiction from the CNN.

What I find most interesting is the comments from the guy at the end who is obviously brought on to dispute the idea of food addiction. Fair enough. But, I  thought his comments were rather redundant. Firstly, he indicates that  food addiction is found in some people by stating that often when people undergo bariatric surgery they will simply switch from eating food to drinking lots of alcohol. This suggests to me that they are simply swapping one form of addiction for another. Secondly, he says that not all people who are obese are addicted to food. Well, um, no shit sherlock. Who is saying that addiction is the root of ALL obesity? Also, who is saying that all thin people are not addicted to food? Someone who responds well to insulin may not get obese, but still be addicted to food. Like I said…..redundant comments.

Which leads me to my next comment. Here are two polls. I would like you to decide whether you think you have food addiction problems. Obviously this might be a bit biased since your reading this blog, but lets do it anyway. It will be nice to know the type of people who are reading this blog. There are two polls – one for people with weight issues, and those for people without. Don’t do both please!

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Getting My Nutrients

14 Jun

So it was hard to mentally get back into the swing of things. But nothing helps more with that than by eating well. So today I ate all the right foods. I am feeling more motivated now. I am also glad to learn that my weight wasn’t effected at all.

I have been on this diet for almost two weeks now. Some days I find my nutrient levels are below the RDA but generally they are over. I thought I would check how my nutrient levels are looking averaged out over the last week to see if I am deficient in anything. Here are the results. The number is the percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). So 500% would mean I am five times over.

Vitamin A: 541

Vitamin B6: 350

Vitamin B12: 471

Vitamin C: 188

Vitamin D: 702

Vitamin E: 242

Calcium: 97

Copper: 353

Iron: 354

Magnesium: 154

Manganese: 218

Niacin: 320

Pant. Acid: 179

Phosphorus: 355

Potassium: 127

Riboflav: 264

Selenium: 434

Sodium: 234

Thiamin: 244

Zinc: 264

So as you can see Im pretty much kicking ass in terms of getting enough nutrients. The only one that was slightly below 100% was calcium. But as Dr Loren Cordain says it is not that we need a lot of calcium it is more to do with the potassium/sodium ratio. Too much sodium and the calcium gets leached from your bones. Im sure thats the theory. However, just in case, I will start drinking milk (yes its not paleo I know).

Anyway this just goes to show that a balanced paleo diet really does give you a whole heap of nutrients. This is great for addiction also. Im sure that what my brain needs right now is plenty of nutrients to help get it past the withdrawal process. To feed it something good. But I guess I probably don’t need to focus on my nutrient intake so much now.

Meals:

Lunch: Almonds

Afternoon Snack: Mixed Berries

Dinner: Beef, Liver and Cabbage Soup + Cod Liver Oil

Calories: 2600

Nutrients:

Fat 58% (sat 15%, poly 8%, mono 35%)

Carbohydrates 11% (75g)

Protein 31%

Calories 2600

The Cookie Monster – The Biggest Food Addict

13 Jun

Our beloved friend the cookie monster. Probably the biggest food addict of them all.

Back Up On The Horse

13 Jun

So I started this blog because I felt that I was not been completely honest in the last one. Well, at the very least, I wouldn’t confess all my sins. So I started this blog because I wanted to be completely transparent, and always admit when I stuff up so that I am held accountable. Not by you, but by me. It is not a nice feeling to admit when you have stuffed up. So here I am writing to you about to confess.

Yesterday, I was invited to go watch a game of soccer. England vs USA. I thought I had been so good lately that I deserved to go. That it was time to take the next step and put on the training wheels. I honestly believed I could go and not eat junk food. I was confident that I now had the ability to resist. While I was there all went well and I didn’t eat or drink anything except for diet cokes. I had to have something and thought this was the lesser of all evils. At this stage I was on a high. I felt that nothing was going to stand in my way, and how easy it was for me to not drink or eat anything I shouldn’t. Yes I was feeling confident and optimistic. Proud of myself even.

And here comes the big BUT. But, then someone invited me out for a drink. I knew this wasn’t a good idea. I knew where it would lead. But I guess a part of me didn’t care. I didn’t want to go home and be alone. I was enjoying the company. I also managed to fool myself that my new resolve would be strong enough to have only a few beers and then go home. So I did. I went and I drank a few beers. Then I drank some more. And then I drank some more. Next thing I know I am walking in the door in the early hours of the morning having consumed many beers and pizza.

Not impressed. The binge fest didn’t end there either. This morning I went and had some more pizza and a slushy. So there you have it. I have managed to reign it in now. Im back up on the horse. Overall Im not convinced it is going to have a large impact on my weight loss. But I can’t let this become a habit. I am making sure I don’t do that by admitting my mistakes. The lesson learned is I cannot go out into situations where there is drink or junk food…….yet. I must be on the ball at all times, and not get cocky. I must not ever believe I have things under control. Because thats when I stuff up.

For the record no I don’t have a drinking problem. But I am also a big escapist. I like to escape reality. Hell thats a part of the addictive nature of things. To escape life! Its especially hard now because I don’t know anyone and I sit at home in this apartment. It can get lonely. So when I do have fun I never want it to end.  So when I start drinking I don’t let it end. Not until very late. Also beer = calories. Non-paleo calories, and I consider this as junk food. So at the moment I feel very let down as I have been doing so well. But I know I have to stay motivated and surge on with the fight. I can’t get too down or I will cave. Thats not an option. .

Bugger.

Cupcakes or Cocaine – Relapse Rates

11 Jun

One of the ideas that has been popping around my head lately is the idea of relapse rates in dieting. We have all heard that a high percentage of people who go on diets end up failing – especially in the long term. Hell if this wasn’t the case why would we be blogging right here right now. But why does this happen?

People who have never dieted tend to believe it is a lack of willpower. To a certain degree I guess they are right. But perhaps the high failure rate is not because of willpower but more because its an addiction. So I thought why not do a little bit of background work and look at the statistics for relapse rates for different addictions. Below is a list of relapse rates ranked from highest to lowest with the number representing the percentage of people who try to give up that addiction and then fail. I consider a diet an attempt to break food addiction.

Food: 95%

Cocaine: 90%

Alcohol: 90%

Smoking – 90%

Heroin – 82%

Im not trying to start  a war of ‘my addiction is worse than yours’ here. There are obviously a lot of factors at play here. But what I want to highlight is the fact that relapse rates are similar for all addictions including dieting. I don’t think this is a coincidence! Is it that surprising that so many dieters fail when you look at it in the light of addiction?

Prison of Boredom

11 Jun

So here I am sitting at home twiddling my thumbs, and watching lots of stuff on the internet. Fifa world cup, Doctor Who and a whole bunch of other geeky stuff. The reason is that I am bored out of my brains. I decided when I started this that I was going to be really strict on myself. So I wont eat tasty delicious junk food, and I won’t let myself have a little bit of alcohol either. At this stage I don’t trust myself. But a consequence of these rules is I have locked myself into a prison of boredom. I can’t go out socialising because that would mean either having eating temptation or alcohol temptation. Arggghhh. When your in a new country and hardly know anyone this kind of sucks.

I think one of the biggest problems with giving up any kind of addiction is the boredom. Once upon a time I could escape this by eating something. Even if it was just for five minutes it was nice to have a break from my head. Now that five minute relief break is gone. But I think thats the point. I think that a large part of addiction revolves around the ‘addict’ wanting to escape from reality. So when you have to face it it can get draining and tough. Now that I have come this far I really need to start thinking of other things I can do that doesn’t involve going out and eating or drinking. Something that is healthy and good for me. Yes like exercise! Because at the moment Im spending a lot of time on the internet and I don’t want that to become a new form of escape.

Meals

Breakfast: Milk

Lunch: Half Roast Chicken, Cabbage Stew

Snack: Almonds

Dinner: Half Roast Chicken, Cabbage Stew

Snack: Almonds

Macronutrients

Fat 49% (Sat 12%, Poly 11%, Mono 26%).

Carbohydrates 18% (132g)

Protein 32%

When You Start Thinking Addict

10 Jun

I cycled down to 2500 calories today, and so was feeling hungry all day. But especially in the evening. The sad thing is I know its not real hunger. That is what has changed since I have started seeing my hunger as an addiction to food. Before this I pretty much believed in the ‘set point’ theory. That you are meant to weigh what you weigh, and any efforts to deviate from that will put you in a war against your body.  So I thought that when I went on a diet I was only going to get more and more hungry as time passed. This made it hard to motivate myself not to eat because I felt that this hunger, this never ending desire to eat something, was never going to leave and only get stronger. Deep down I still believe this to a certain extent. I think it has been brainwashed into my head.

But my perspective is changing. When you see these cravings as some desperate attempt from that little addict inside your head to get a ‘hit’, then it becomes hard to give in to those cravings. This is because the longer you abstain from junk food the less cravings you will get as time passes. So if you eat some junk food its like an ex smoker having a cigarette. Your undoing all that hard work. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This hunger that I feel is TEMPORARY. I just need to tough it out for this moment in time!

But its hard. These thoughts occurred to me tonight as I sat there constantly thinking about eating sugary foods. I desperately want to tell you, and me, to go get stuffed then head down the road and stuff my face with ice cream. I really do want to do that. But I know that if I do then I have given in to this addict. That my life will never get better. That I am just trapping myself into the same patterns. As much I know this it still really sucks. Because I really really WANT to tell you to get stuffed.

Meals

Lunch: 6 x Eggs, Spinach, Tomato

Dinner: 2 x Round Eye Steaks, Cabbage

Late Snack: Cabbage, Canned Tomatoes

Macronutrients

Fat 54% (sat 13%, poly 8%, mono 33%)

Carbohydrates 13% (91g)

Protein 33%

So I stuck to around 2500 calories. I was under this limit (and under 50g of carbs) but I was really really hungry this evening. I was going crazy. Funnily enough I seemed to satisfy the cravings in my head with the thought of some cabbage with tomatoes. No olive oil, no meat, nothing else. So I had that and it pushed me to 2600 calories and 91g carbs. But thats alright as my calories are below maintenance and my carbs are still below 100g. Once again my nutrients were through the roof.

Protein

No Junk Food Today!

10 Jun

Ok quick post today. Went to the meeting today and did my talk. All went well. Today I brought some almonds with me so I wouldn’t have to eat the carb nightmare. But today they actually served fish and vegetables. So I had that instead, then the nuts later. Here is what I had.

Meal

Breakfast – 2 x beef steaks (I loaded up because I thought I was having a small lunch)

Lunch – cod, fish kebab, roast potatoes, salad, seafood chowder

Afternoon Snack – almonds

Dinner – 5 x chicken drumsticks, canned tomatoes, onion

Macronutrients

Fat 54% (sat 11%, poly 10%, mono 27%)

Carbohydrates 15% (156g)

Protein 31%

Well my calories were too high sitting at 3900, and I think my maintenance is 3500. But I am still relieved that I avoided any of the junk food and sort of stuck with paleo. I could have had cheesecake!! Also my carbs were too high at 156g. But tomorrow I am cycling back down again and so will keep my calories under 3000, and my carbs below 50g until I get down to 117 kg, when I will cycle back up for a few days. The good news is that all my nutrients were completely over the RDA limits.

The Goldilocks Principle – Stages of Food Addiction

9 Jun

Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that is thought to mediate reward responses to foods, and drives a person to consume more foods. When neuroscientists scanned the brains of obese individuals, viewing images of desirable food, they found greater activity in brain regions rich in dopamine receptors. These same regions are also activated by drugs. However, another group of researchers believe that there is decreased reward activity in the brains of obese individuals. In these individuals overeating acts as a compensatory strategy to normalise the reward deficit. In other words, they eat more to feel normal.

A recent study supports both these theories showing that they are not mutually exclusive, and used brain imaging and genetics data to prove it. Using fMRI the researchers scanned the brains of adolescent girls with differing BMIs while they viewed pictures of appetizing foods and imagined eating junk food. They also genotyped these girls to determine whether they possessed variants of two genes that have been linked with lower dopamine activity. They followed the girls for one year and then checked their BMI. Overall, they found that adolescent girls with greater BMI showed increased reward activation in response to food images. They found that girls with greater reward activation gained more weight. However, the genetic data also showed that girls whose brains had a lower reward response to foods also gained more weight. It would seem that there may be two types of obesity – those who are overly sensitive to food and those who are under sensitive. They propose the Goldilocks priniciple – too much or too little reward system activation may lead to weight gain.

I think I would like to add my opinion on this. Research has also shown that if you are a healthy weight, and are more sensitive to rewards, the heavier you tend to be. I believe that initially, whether your rat or human, the more sensitive you are to food rewards the more likely you are to consume these foods again and again. So at the start you get a huge hit from eating this junk food and want more! This is why oversensitivity to food rewards is found in heavier normal weight people as it is at the initial stages of the addiction process. As you continue to become more addicted, and eat more junk food, your dopamine system begins to shut down reducing the number of dopamine receptors and thus decreasing your sensitivity to a food reward. Thus, you need to eat more and more junk food to compensate (this mechanism has been shown in rats). By this stage you have entered into stage II of the addiction process, and are likely to be obese. This would explain the above pattern. Unfortunately, if this is true, and this pattern is not broken, an addicted individual is destined to become more obese and to enjoy food less and less as time goes by.

Relapse I

8 Jun

Before I start I suggest anyone reading this go and read my post on how junk food can trigger addiction. If you read that, and don’t walk away thinking junk food is like cocaine, then good day to you sir!!!

I didn’t blog yesterday because I am in the midst of preparing a talk for a very important meeting tomorrow. I won’t bore you, but it is basically about getting some funding to do environmental monitoring of some freshwater ecosystems here. So when it comes to funding I get stressed. Needless to say I was up late last night writing the talk, which I give tomorrow. I only post now because I have finished it. I also didn’t write yesterday because there was nothing much to report. Same day as the last one. Getting hungry in the evenings (which apparently is a tell tale sign of food addiction) but thats about it.

Today I woke up and had some eggs for breakfast. Then I went to the workshop. Now I assumed since this was at a fancy hotel that my options for food would not be strictly limited. I intended on having some sort of salad. Well bad luck for me. There was the choice of carbs, more carbs, or high carb foods. Nothing existed without carbs. I couldn’t even have the insides of sandwiches as there wasn’t much. By this stage my stomach was rumbling and I knew I needed to stay awake and eat something.

I contemplated leaving and getting some food elsewhere but no one else did, and in these types of meetings its all about contacts!!! Going out for lunch by yourself is a big no no!!! So I stayed and I ate some small sandwiches, a pasta salad and some apple juice. I really did feel my hands were tied. Yes I could have been more gungho and simply starved myself. But let me tell you that my ability to not eat carby foods is via a thin shred of willpower. To not eat AT ALL was too much, and lets say I had a controlled explosion.

I feel bad because up to this point I have been perfect. Also, I feel bad because this is similar to doing a line of coke. In other words I have undone all my efforts. I can expect massive hunger now. But I can’t get too caught up in that thinking otherwise I really will unravel. I just have to soldier on and remind myself that everyone has a relapse every now and then. In this case it was a pretty minor incident as I did not have that much, and I did not go into a bigger binge because I had stuffed up.

So here is the damage.

Meals

Breakfast: Two Fried Eggs

Lunch: Assorted Sandwich mix, pasta salad, apple juice

Dinner: 2 X Pork Steaks, Asparagus, Almonds

Macronutrients

Fat 49% (sat 13%, poly 11%, mono 21%)

Carbohydrates 27% (177g)

Protein 24%

All in all its not that terrible. I have had 2600 calories of food. My nutrients were lower than normal and I was deficient in Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium. Could have been worse!