Diet food addiction

Published on April 21st, 2013 | by George Conte


How to prevent sugar and food addiction

Addiction can occur when we use any kind of substance that can change our mental state and can lead to problematic or antisocial behavior. Such addictions include drug, sex, gambling or even exercise abuse and the common factor is the need for instant gratification while “forgetting” the long-term consequences of our actions.

According to Wikipedia:

 “Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its ‘normal’ functioning.”

This is a very interesting topic for me since I am 100% sure that I had food and sugar addiction back then when I had obesity problems because I over consumed unhealthy food that was high in glycemic index like carbohydrates from sweets.

Is sugar and food addiction a myth?

If you think that food addiction is a myth that is being used from overweight people as an excuse for their condition (unlike the myth of slow metabolism) then think again because sugar and food addiction is a real problem and its existence is backed by science facts.

From wikipedia on food addiction:

“Researchers have speculated there is an abnormality of endorphin metabolism in the brain of binge eaters that triggers the addictive process. This is in line with other theories of addiction that attribute it not to avoidance of withdrawal symptoms, but to a primary problem in the reward centers of the brain. For the Compulsive Overeater, the ingestion of trigger foods causes release of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This could be another sign of neurobiological factors contributing to the addictive process. Abstinence from addictive food and food eating processes causes withdrawal symptoms in those with eating disorders. There may be higher levels of depression and anxiety due to the decreased levels of serotonin in the individual”

Everyone can probably right now create a similar effect by following a low carbohydrate diet and see the results (withdrawal effects) on his body and his psychology.

Also I clearly remember that the cleaner my nutrition was (low glycemic index carbohydrates, less foods with sugars like chocolates) the less “need” I had to eat foods containing sugar. It was like my own body stopped me from eating unhealthy…

More on sugar addiction:

“Finally, a 2008 study noted that sugar affects opioids and dopamine in the brain, and thus might be expected to have addictive potential. It referenced bingeing, withdrawal, craving and cross-sensitization, and gave each of them operational definitions in order to demonstrate behaviorally that sugar bingeing is a reinforcer. These behaviors were said to be related to neurochemical changes in the brain that also occur during addiction to drugs. Neural adaptations included changes in dopamine and opioid receptor binding, enkephalin mRNA expression and dopamine and acetylcholine release in the nucleus accumbens.”

 I really want to focus on the part that food addiction can be as severe as drug abuse. The reason for that is because people need to make this connection in order to realize how important it is to eat healthy. Food and sugar addiction can make you lose control over your own body and this can lead to life threatening conditions. You can read more about that topic in this article where I analyze the dangers and effects of obesity.

According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

“Can food really be as addictive as drugs? In an impassioned lecture at Rockefeller University on Wednesday, Dr. Nora Volkow made the case that the answer is yes and that understanding the commonalities between food and drug addictions could offer insights into all types of compulsive behavior.”

According to

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

In this episode of “The skinny on obesity” we can clearly see the effects that sugar has on the human brains that are clearly similar to the effects of alcohol and drugs:

How to stop overeating and sugar addiction

Fortunately the solution to this problem is very simple. Half of it is to actually realize that this a true condition that you need to take action to prevent. After that all it takes is to slowly make some healthy changes in your diet. Adopt new healthy habits that will eradicate the need for sugars or the compulsion of overeating. There is a good guide here on how to do that by using the stages of change theory.

Also if you need some quick tips in order to focus on the most basic changes you can do right now and have a huge impact you can read this article here. Basically what I did to help myself was to throw away from my home all of my junk food. Prepare my own healthy meals and take them with me at work. Did not buy anything unhealthy from supermarkets by using a premade list of foods and finally when I went out to eat on a restaurant or on social occasions I always had in mind what where my favorite foods that were also healthy to order.

If you need a complete list of healthy food sources to use in order to clean your diet then don’t worry because I have created here three lists one for every basic macronutrient:

  1. Best sources of protein
  2. Best sources of carbohydrates
  3. Best sources of fat

Final thoughts

Food and sugar addiction can be similar to drug addiction. The realization of this fact can be 50% of the solution. The other half of it is to actually take action and adopt new healthy habits by clearing your diet, decreasing the consumption of unhealthy carbohydrates (high glycemic index) and fats (Trans-fats, saturated etc.).

Image by colros via Flickr


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About the Author

George Conte is a student of Nutrition and Dietetics, a fitness and healthy living enthusiast. After seven years of personal experience with weight loss, exercise and a total body transformation where he managed to burn 121+ pounds of fat he became the founder of A website dedicated to help you overcome obesity and transform your life the same way he did!

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