Eating healthy and losing weight seems almost impossible for many people. Despite our best intentions (I say “our” because I’ve been there), we often find ourselves eating large amounts of unhealthy food, despite knowing that it’s causing our bodies (and minds) harm.
Think about how you feel both physically and emotionally after that fast food run or late night ice cream binge. The “I’ll try again tomorrow” excuse plays over and over again in our minds. That is because many of us are addicted to food. Yes, addicted. We as a culture do not want to talk about this topic. There is nothing glamorous about not being able to say no to sugar, flour and other addictive substances that we are putting in our bodies every day. It’s time to shed some light on this very real and very problematic addiction that is taking over our culture.
We all know that obesity and diabetes are a problem for many people. Many critics are panning the gluten free, wheat free, whole food movement, but I wonder if any of those critics realize what it’s like to live a food addicted life…or maybe they simply aren’t willing to admit they have a problem.
The truth is, certain foods affect the brain and become addictive just like any other drug. Food addiction is one of the main reasons many people cannot control themselves around food, despite how hard they try.
Research shows that neurotransmitters in the brain of a drug addict and food addict are identical. Food addiction is a relatively new term and somewhat controversial. There are few statistics to show just how common it is (which brings me back to people not wanting or knowing how to admit they have a “food problem”).
Having had a terrible relationship with food for most of my life, I did some research about four years ago and found that gluten caused the brain to want more. It’s hard to stop eating sugar once you’ve started, landing many of us in a state of feeling sick and tired after consuming it. I have continued to research food addiction and although I am by far an expert, I am someone who in recovery from this monster of a disease.
I found my way out slowly by adopting the Whole30 lifestyle. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no beans and no alcohol. Some people call this program/lifestyle a cult. I call it a lifesaving program that we can all benefit from. Yes, following this program for 30 days does take weight off, but more importantly it changes one’s relationship with food.
Once the 30 days are over, you slowly begin reintroducing foods and track how they affect you both physically and emotionally. I personally cannot have any of the foods that fall under the aforementioned “no” category because each trigger a response in my body that I am extremely uncomfortable with. They are all addictive substances for me. I even avoid fruit because of the sugar content and my inability to stop myself from eating more and more.
I have never felt healthier or happier. Food is now fuel to get me through the day, simple as that. I truly wish the stigma attached to food addiction would fall away so more people could the kind of peace I’ve found.
Part of my recovery is coaching friends and relatives through sugar detoxes and Whole30 plans. I recently coached a friend through her first Whole30 and not only did she lose 40 pounds (in 30 days), she has found that her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms have dwindled and she’s never felt better. There is nothing that brings me more joy or satisfaction than sharing my story, creating a healthy meal for friends and family, and supporting anyone who wants to feel better do just that.