Food addiction is a real phenomenon that is not discussed very openly. As a society, we seem to be understanding that alcohol and other substance addiction is an illness but there is a lag when it comes to food and overeating. We still insist that people who struggle with weight should “just stop” eating the foods that make them gain weight. The responsibility is given to the individual and we expect that if they really wanted it, they would “just stop” and everything would be great. Very little is offered in the way of publicly available programs that offer any support for these people. And we constantly bombard them (and everyone else) with conflicting advertising: on one hand offering encouragement to eat the problem foods and on the other offering a confusing barrage of information about how to lose weight.
Is this helpful? No. Is this confusing? Yes. Is it any wonder people don’t know how to manage this themselves? Not at all.
What the current process fails to recognize is the neurochemical impact certain foods have on the brain and the impact that has on behaviour. Certain foods like sugar and highly processed carbohydrates trigger dopamine, our brains pleasure chemical. It makes us feel good. And it makes us want more. In some people, this loop reaches the point where there is an addiction. As a result, those foods continue to be eaten even when there is evidence of harm and when the person would really like to stop.
So what do you do if you feel you may have a food addiction or addictive behaviour towards food? Listening to this episode is a good first step. Dr. Vera Tarman is my guest this week. Dr. Tarman works as an Addictions Physician in Toronto and is the Medical Lead at the Renascent Program. She is author of “Food Junkies: The Truth about Food Addiction”. Reading this book would be a great second step if you feel you are affected by food addiction.
For more information on the program at Renescent .
To check out the latest version of Food Junkies (amazon.ca link).
If you feel you need help taking the first steps, I am happy to support you on your journey. Book a free introductory session and we can chat.