Health Blog – Understanding Food Addiction


I was asked to explain our susceptibility to addiction of highly refined foods and as to whether I was exaggerating when I said that these foods were as addictive as ‘hard’ drugs?

  • Primarily, but very briefly, we should understand the mechanism of  addiction. If we use a ‘susceptibility scale’ we find that about one third of the population are highly susceptible, one third moderately so and one third are mildly addictive. That some people are more suseptible to some substances (and situations) and not others. So when it comes to highly refined foods or anything else) it has nothing to do with a ‘moral deficiency’ – but is a fact for a myriad of reasons. And addiction doesn’t just depend upon the substance, but the susceptibility.
  • So, a tiny bit of science behind this addiction to highly refined foods happens when there is a higher level of insulin in the blood. Insulin is the substance secreted by the pancreas that helps in the digestion of simple carbohydrates (‘sugars’). This blocks the production of lepton in the brain. Lepton is our ‘feedback’ mechanism to stop eating when we are full. So, you get people who have insatiable hunger and who binge eat when a large portion of their diet is made up of highly refined foods – such as sugar and white flour. To stop food cravings and overeating, cut out these foods COMPLETELY out of your diet. Even if you are not high on the ‘susceptibility scale’ you can be affected by this. If you are only a few kilos over your ‘ideal’ weight, if you just do this, it will drop that extra weight…
  • Another interesting point, made by Dr Susan Peirce Thompson, Psychologist and Nutritionist, is that the major mistake people make when they want to lose weight is that they rely on their Willpower – when with our pace of life we are ‘willpower deficient’. That we resist many temptations throughout our day and when it comes to decisions on food choices at the end of the day, we often make poor choices. The solution to this is to rely on the ‘automatic’ mind and have a strict ‘Plan of Action’. And this works, once you develop the habit of eating to plan.
  • Just a few other ideas that will help people to control their eating to reach their desired weight. The best number of meals to eat for the day is three because if they are breakfast, lunch and dinner – so spread evenly throughout the day, they are easier to control. If you must have a snack between meals, prepurchase healthy options like fruit. Try not to eat after dinner – it is only a habit that is not necessary. Drink plenty of water throughout your day. If you have not made exercise an ingrained habit, don’t start as a vehicle to help lose weight as it will deplete your ‘willpower’. Don’t use exercise as an excuse to overeat. Measure your quantities by normal sized plateful.

Know exactly what you are eating and live your knowledge if you want to be successful.

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