Have you heard about food addiction? It counts on the same level as drug addiction because it is thought to involve the same neurotransmitters and areas of the brain as drug addiction. With high stress levels and lifestyle changes, more and more people are falling into the food addiction bandwagon. Excessive dependence and cravings for junk food including sugar-rich foods, candy, sugary beverages, soda, and high-fat fried foods all come under the purview of food addiction. It is comparable to eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, etc. Food addiction is a tendency where one has no control over the cravings and even though he/she is fully aware of the consequences of eating excessive junk food, is unable to break away from the habit. To come out of food addiction, it requires great will power and resolve of steel (almost). One should make a conscious decision to break out of the cycle of food addiction. You are not alone, food addiction is quite common among people, it varies only in degree to which one indulges in it. In this post, we would help you figure out ways to lose weight with food addiction and more.
What is Food Addiction?
It’s a situation where there is excessive urge to eat junk and processed food like sugar-rich foods, candy, sugary beverages, soda, and high-fat fried foods.
Symptoms of Food Addiction:
1. Frequent cravings for junk food.
2. Binge eating on almost all days of the week.
3. Guilt pangs after eating food.
4. Emotional dependence on food.
5. Stocking up unhealthy food.
Effects of Food Addiction:
1. Risk of developing life-threatening disorders such as stroke, cardiovascular diseases.
2. Risk of developing lifestyle disorders such as pre-diabetes/diabetes.
4. Low immunity due to imbalance in gut microbial flora (reduction in friendly bacteria).
5. Digestive disorders.
6. Low energy.
8. Risk of developing depression (again due to imbalance in gut microbial flora because there are millions of neuron cells in the gut that are directly linked to the brain and any malfunctioning of gut will directly impact brain function).
9. Slow metabolism.
11. Malaise, which is a general feeling of discomfort and uneasiness.
12. Emotional dependence on food.
Benefits of Overcoming Food Addiction:
1. Weight loss.
2. Increased energy and stamina.
3. Low risk of developing diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
4. General feeling of well being.
List of Most Addictive Foods:
- Ice cream
- Potato chips
- Cola, aerated drinks
- Candies, toffee
- Fried chicken
- Instant noodles
- Indian Chinese street food
How Does Food Addiction Work?
Food with high sugar, sodium, fat content have a direct impact on the brain. When you eat such food items, your brain rewards you by releasing “feel-good chemicals” such as dopamine. Such feel-good chemicals make us happy and elevate our mood. Such food items also cause sharp insulin spikes which give us instant energy but the drop in insulin spike is just as steep, causing fatigue and lack of energy. Eating processed and junk food releases a huge amount of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals compared to healthy food. The brain then causes more cravings for such food and it can lead to food addiction. When one indulges in such food, the “reward center” in the brain gets activated and releases dopamine and other feel-good chemicals and this cycle goes on and on, and one is unable to control these cravings.
20 Ways to Overcome Food Addiction:
1. Maintain a Food Journal/Diary: Keeping a journal of what goes into your plate would help you track and cut out extra calories and junk from your daily diet. Noting down calorie-rich food items will help create a calorie deficit which would eventually help you lose weight. In the journal, do keep a track of how many times you are snacking and how much sugar, salt and fat content you are consuming on a daily basis. Go through the journal weekly and keep track of how many times you have indulged in junk food and make a resolve to eliminate that food item the next week.
2. Delete Food-Ordering Apps from your Phone: Ordering food through apps is quite literally addictive! Because of the extreme convenience with which you can get food (also junk food) through such apps, it will soon turn into an addiction rather than an indulgence. The second step towards coming out of food addiction is to uninstall such apps.
3. Meal prep for the entire week: Most of us indulge in junk and processed food when we are confused about what to eat. Meal prepping for the entire week (jotting down recipes and cutting and chopping raw ingredients into separate boxes) leaves little room to indulge in unhealthy food. It’s easy to take out boxes of pre-packed ingredients from the fridge and cook them. In fact, note down snacks also in your meal prep.
4. Read ingredients and labels to weed out high sodium, sugar, fat, and MSG foods: A lot of processed food have high salt, sugar content that can get you into the food addiction cycle. Read the ingredients list of all packaged food and keep back with high sodium and sugar levels. Here’s how you can read food labels.
5. Eat Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are not the same as transfat or unsaturated fat. Healthy fats such as nuts, avocados, can keep you full for long, preventing you from frequent cravings. Healthy fat will keep your appetite in check and avoid frequent snacking. Healthy fats also help build muscle faster and also prevents nutrient loss during the cooking process, which means your body gets more essential nutrients that are not lost during the cooking process.
6. Snack on Nuts and Fruits when you have Hunger Pangs: Instead of picking potato chips or French fries, snack on nuts and fruits when you have extreme hunger pangs.
7. Eat at least one Protein-Rich Food in Each Meal: Protein keeps you full for longer and will help in curbing desire for junk food. Protein in the diet increases the levels of the satiety hormones in the body, also reduces appetite, thereby also reducing the hunger hormone. In order to lose weight fast, you need to consume more protein and less of carbohydrates and fats.
8. Clean out kitchen and pantry of high sodium and junk food: We should have mentioned this earlier in this list. It’s probably one of the first few steps you should do as soon as you decide to come out of food addiction. Get rid of all processed food, instant noodle packets, packaged snacks, transfat food from your kitchen.
9. Prefer Home-Cooked Food: Meal prep every week, eat out less, and prefer home-cooked food each day because you would have better control over salt and sugar levels.
10. Drink one glass of water before every meal: Drinking one glass of water at least 15 to 30 minutes before every meal prevents you from overindulging in food, especially junk food. Most of the times, you are just thirsty and not exactly hungry!
11. Pick healthy substitutes for junk food: For example, replacing instant noodles with zucchini noodles will give you the same level of satisfaction. Here’s a list of 8 Low-Carb Food Alternatives to High Carb Food.
12. Completely Avoid Fried Food Items: Yes, like completely say “no” to fried foods.
13. Don’t go on a Crash Diet: Crash dieting is not a sustainable option. In fact, once you come out of crash dieting, the urge to indulge in junk food will come back stronger. Follow Rati Beauty diet programs to lose weight the healthy way and to break the chain of food addiction.
14. Don’t Starve – Eat Healthy: Starving is not an option to break food addiction because it will lead to stronger cravings and food addiction.
15. Substitute Refined Sugar with Better Alternatives: Refined sugar can make you feel instantly good, however, it is not at all healthy and you can replace it with these 8 Best Healthy Replacements for Refined Sugar.
16. Avoid Addictive Trigger Foods: Make a list of addictive trigger foods that you have the most cravings for and avoid them like plague.
17. Make a list of things you would gain from stopping food addiction: You could fit into a dress that you have been eyeing, you could have increased stamina, better health in the future, etc. Make a list of things you would gain from stopping this addiction.
18. Seek counselling or professional help if you indulge in food for emotional dependence and to get out of depression.
19. Include probiotics to alleviate mood disorders and to boost mood: Studies have found that probiotic food helps to alleviate foul mood. Here’s a list of 10 Probiotic Food Items that you could include in your diet.
20. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep deprivation not only slows down metabolism, there’s an increase an spike in the hunger hormone “ghrelin,” and a fall in “leptin” which is a hormone responsible for making you feel full. As a result, you constantly, you end up being constantly hungry and with an urge to indulge in food addiction.
Hope this article would help you get a control over food addiction.