Food Addiction

I’m a food addict (in recovery). I learned about some of the mechanisms of addiction relating to food about three years ago when I starting casting about to find alternatives for a persistent hypertension problem. I became frustrated with a seemingly endless series of medication cocktails being administered by well-intentioned, but ultimately clueless, medical practitioners.

I had the good fortune to come across the website of a husband and wife pair of doctors who run a clinic in Arizona to deal with hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Their regimen to manage, if not eliminate completely, these problems, starts (and pretty much ends) with carbohydrate control. Their take on the problem is replete with the language of addiction.

There are only three elements to nutrition: fat, protein and carbohydrate. Of the three, only carbohydrate has a profound and immediate effect on blood sugar levels. High glycemic-index carbohydrates (raw sugar, bread and potato being the most ‘explosive’) set off an insulin-fueled roller-coaster ride that engenders cravings, binge eating and consequent implications.

My personal experience was that withdrawing from certain types of carbohydrates completely for a couple of weeks almost entirely extinguishes cravings for those things. On a number of occasions, I was able to sit with some colleagues diving into plates of (homemade) french fries with gravy without a hint of regret or envy.

I heard a news item yesterday citing a California study that found “junk foods” to be “addictive”. Junk foods are almost entirely composed of high G.I. carbohydrate (plus FAT). This is, by far, the best formula for both addiction and dysfunctional eating.

I’m glad this information is getting out there. The sooner people see what ‘typical’ eating patterns, including the supposedly well-founded advice of certain medical professionals, are going to lead to, the sooner people will perhaps start working towards the mindset that you need to eat to live, not the other way around.

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