Food addiction is real, just like any other addiction. The only difference being with the toxic substance we are addicted to, we don’t see negative results on our body immediately. Take sugar, for example. It might not make us feel great, you might get a belly ache if you eat too much or feel lethargic after the dopamine rush wears off, but other than that you won’t see immediate weight gain, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, heart disease, until later in life. That does not mean it is good for us.
Sugar and flour are the biggest food addictions. Even eating the tiniest bite can start a whole chain of more more more. I am addicted to both and in order to keep my binging in check I rarely eat flour. It causes horrible inflammation in my body and to me that is not worth it, so I remain 95% gluten free. Sugar is a whole other story, and a constant battle for me and I think a lot of people out there. Here is the info on why it is so hard to stop eating sugar, how there is nothing wrong with you, and the one piece of advice I have found that works to stop eating it.
The shocking truth and understanding why we binge.
Sugar, flour, tobacco (nicotine), cocaine, and heroin are all ground up plants, and all affect us in the SAME way. Obviously cocaine and heroin are illegal and can instantly kill you if overused but the whole ground up plant thing they have in common with Tobacco, sugar and flour.
Heroin is made from morphine which comes from the seeds of an “opium poppy plant. Cocaine is from the leaves of a “Coca plant”. Tobacco is the “tobacco plant”. Similarly, sugar is from a sugarcane plant “Saccharum officinarum”. While flour can be from various starchy parts of plants and wheat that are ultra processed together. Also a weird little fact, Tobacco is the only legal addictive substance sold that the FDA enforces a health warning on all the boxes. “Cigarette smoking might be hazardous to your health.”.
Do you see the similarities?
What are the differences? Sugar and flour SLOWLY wreak havoc on your body. Sugar is known to cause excess weight gain, inflammation, leaky gut, heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and the list continues. Flour on the other hand is a little sneaky. At one point whole grains were probably healthy, but now the ultra refined processed flour we get in processed foods has no nutrients, and instantly raises your blood pressure and insulin, causing metabolic dysfunction. The list of ailments include celiac disease, inflammation, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, sore joints, gut issues, weight gain, acne, eczema, and hormone imbalance.
Why in the actual F do we continue to eat this stuff?
When we eat sugar and flour they instantly activate Dopamine, the feel good hormone in the brain. When Dopamine is activated our brains continuously want to feel that rush again and again. We become used to the substance and its effect on our body, so our brain tells us we want more and more. The more we eat, the more dopamine, which in turn blocks our leptin (the hormone that tells us we are full). If we don’t know when we are full, we will not stop eating. This is why kids and adults end up with stomach aches after eating massive amounts of candy, french fries, ice cream etc. You will literally eat until you feel sick.
Sugar and flour confuse the shit out of your brain. It’s not your fault.
Also as a child we were introduced to sugar, so our brains create ingrained patterns and habits and NEVER forget them. So you can help with cravings by not eating the substance and they will gradually go away but as soon as you have a taste of it again your old pattern will come right back and you will have to start all over again.
The one piece of advice I have found that works.
It’s quite simple actually. Don’t buy it, and don’t eat it. If it’s in your house your brain will trick you and you will eat it. I always refer back to the advice of Susan Peirce Thompson, with “Bright Line Eating”. The bright lines? No sugar or flour! Her book and story are incredible, definitely check them out here! I also refer to her “Susceptibility Quiz” for a really cool look into your brain and those ingrained habits we talked about. It is truly eye opening. FYI I am a 10 on the susceptibility scale. Flour and sugar are HUGE binge triggers for me. Take the quiz, experiment with cutting one substance out at a time. See how you feel, and know that it is different for everyone.
My personal experiment.
For me, as soon as I eat gluten I can feel it in my joints, and in my gut. Sugar (even maple syrup and honey) are an instant binge for me. If I start eating them I can’t stop. Both of these substances also affect how I sleep, and if you know me sleep is VERY important in my life. Practicing being gluten free has been an ongoing journey that I have become much better at each day.
My experiment with no sugar was actually amazing, I never felt better. After about a week of intense sugar cravings it got easier. My biggest challenges were associating sugar and junk food with certain life events, birthdays, weekend parties, vacations, a movie theater etc. I have learned to use my creativity and come up with solutions. Bring salads and delicious fruit to parties, at the movies my daughter and I snacked on trail mix and dried mango. There are always delicious options; we just have to convince our brains about it.
My advice to control the food addiction
- Always think ahead and be prepared.
- If you DO (which will happen) eat sugar and gluten when you’re trying not to, don’t worry about it, just try again.
- Listen to your body and write it down. Your brain doesn’t care if you get a stomach ache, poops, or inflammation. They care about getting the next dopamine hit. Writing down that my body felt like crap after eating cookies, cake, and pizza, will help you become aware for next time when you have to fight the urge to NOT do that again.
- In your journal write out the scenario where you DON’T eat the foods that make you feel bad. For example: “I went to the birthday party and instead of eating cookies and cake I had a heaping bowl of delicious fresh fruit.”.
- The easiest way to avoid sugar and flour is to not eat processed food. Anything grown or raised outside (meat, fish,eggs) is not going to contain these addictive substances.
Looking for something sweet? Some alternatives I go to…
- Dried Mango
- Peanut butter with a banana or apple (my favorite dessert)
- A bowl of fresh fruit with cashews and walnuts
Looking for something salty?
- Make kale, beet, or sweet potato chips in the air fryer.
- Measure our ¼ cups of nuts in baggies and always have them with you.
- Boiled eggs with sea salt. My husband doesn’t like boiled eggs so sometimes he will quickly fry an egg to get that protein and fatty snack he needs.
- Handful of peanuts and raisins (sweet and salty combo)
I found some of this info so horrifying and it is definitely a LOT to take in. Know nothing will ever be perfect. It will be a zigzag journey, trust me I’m on it haha. Most importantly know your strength and trust what your body is telling you. For years I thought my body was against me, making me sick to hurt me, when really it was just trying to communicate its needs. Slow down, listen, think of your future health. You’ve got this!