Food addiction goes way beyond just the easily defined eating disorders; “dis-ordered” eating affects most people in the western world.
Our modern-day food supply has created a confused and unhealthy relationship with food, confusing our views of what food actually is.
For animals, food is a necessary element for survival. For our ancestors too, food was how they survived. There wasn’t much connection between food and the act of binging or obsession. Our ancestors didn’t overeat sweets for the mere experience of instant gratification.
With any “habit” or “addiction” the behavior is repeated due to the release of dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone. In a rat study, when the release of dopamine was disrupted in the brain, the rats stopped eating. Dopamine creates the reward loop for a behavior to be repeated and sought after.
HABIT VS ADDICTION
What is a Habit?
A habit begins with a “loop” based on a reward system where a trigger tells the brain to automatically perform a routine, and if the brain benefits from the routine, it will continue to do the action and receive a “reward.”
In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, they found that on average it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic. It can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
What is an Addiction?
Addiction occurs when you are no longer able to function properly without pleasurable results derived from an activity or substance. Certain pleasurable activities, such as eating, trigger the reward center in your brain, releasing dopamine, and making you want to engage in the activity again.
Substance abuse also excites the brain’s reward center; however, over time tolerance to dopamine develops as the brain adapts to the continued presence of the substance. You end up needing more and more of the substance to achieve the same reward from a higher and higher level of dopamine.
Eventually, you don’t experience the pleasurable effects of the substance anymore as your body has come to need the substance just to function and feel normal. What is occurring is that your body has become dependent on the substance, and it doesn’t take long before the signs become evident that a habit has become an addiction.
Addiction is a biopsychosocial disorder: a combination of your genetics, your neurobiology, and how that interacts with psychological and social factors.
The Role of Dopamine in Addiction
Although everyone’s path to addiction is different, whether it’s a drug, food, or behavior, it is common across all substance and behavioral addictions if there is an ability to increase the level of dopamine.
Dopamine is a molecule that carries messages across the brain’s reward center. It is also what gives people the feeling of pleasure and reinforces behavior critical for survival such as eating food. When someone uses a drug or engages in a pleasurable activity, the same natural reward circuitry is activated.
The problem with drugs is that they do their job better than natural rewards. Different drugs tap into the dopamine reward system in different ways; for example, marijuana and heroin have a chemical structure similar to another transmitter and contradict the brain cells into activating neurons that use dopamine.
Different Types Of Food Addiction
The different forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating; these are beyond just food addiction. Anorexia and bulimia are psychological disorders surrounding control mechanisms that are more than just food-related and are usually connected to traumatic events or psychological triggers.
With binge eating, people eat to the point of regret, bypassing the normal hunger and satiety signals, claiming they will never do it again, and go right back to the same behavior.
Disordered eating encompasses an unhealthy relationship with food where obsessive thoughts about food and controlling food can become exaggerated beyond seeing food as a daily nutrition need, much like an animal would.
Food addiction and drug addiction have similar effects on dopamine in the brain, and similar neural effects. Sugar addiction is equal in magnitude to drug and alcohol addiction.
In a study sugar addiction led to a higher opioid receptor addiction and dopamine release. Sweets on their own led to addiction but not obesity. It was only when fat was introduced to the sweets that caloric intake increased significantly which led to obesity. In other words, it is the combination of carbs with fat that led to multiple metabolic disease factors, not sugar alone.
But food addiction is not centered around fat or protein; it is only around salt and sugar. If you are depleted of sodium, it will evoke a process in the central nervous system that induces the motivated state to satisfy the sodium appetite. But, where this messaging goes haywire is that the neural message can trigger sugar cravings.
Neurons start responding to sweets such as sucrose in response to sodium cravings. When you eat sugar, your brain gets the signals mixed up, and it thinks the salt cravings are satisfied. Just by doing this a few times, your brain has created a habit loop of satisfying sodium needs with a sugar craving.
As you lower the carbs, increase a high-quality mineral salt, like Accelerated Ancient Salt™ which contains more than 60 natural minerals beyond just sodium. Your appetite is satisfied as your cravings for sodium and sweets decrease, and your body is replenished with plenty of sodium.
Fat leads to obesity only when combined with sweets; when fat is included in a low-carb diet, overeating and obesity do not result.
The Role of Low-Carb Diets in Treating Food Addiction
In a study titled Treating Binge Eating and Food Addiction Symptoms with Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diets: a Case Series, results showed success in using a low-carb diet in treating those with food addiction.
Binge eating is generally characterized by high consumption of sweets and high carbohydrate foods, combined with obsessive thoughts surrounding time obtaining food, withdrawal when off the food, regret, and repeated, unsuccessful attempts to quit binge eating behavior.
When participants in the study were coached through a low-carb diet, they were able to reduce their food addiction behavior.
Furthermore, highly processed foods along with hyper-palatable foods accelerate food addiction because they dampen the receptors of sweet and salt to signal to the brain enough. Your brain (not your body) pleads for more of these foods to deliver the same level of satisfaction.
How To Eliminate Your Food Addiction
1. Forgive yourself
Food addiction isn’t your fault. The modern-day food supply is meant to create addictive habits surrounding highly palatable foods. It isn’t caused by a lack of willpower on your part.
2. Identify your triggers
Once you identify the food triggers that set you up for a binge cycle, throw them out of the house or avoid the places they are present so they can’t send you into a tailspin of uncontrolled eating. You want to throw out all processed foods, vegetable oils, bread, pasta, and other high carbohydrate foods.
3. Fill your fridge with wild animal protein, green veggies, and healthy fats
4. Get lots of sunlight
Ultraviolet light exposure to the eyes stimulates MSH, which is a molecule that reduces appetite. It keeps your desire to eat in a healthy range. This is why most people have less of an appetite during the summer months versus the winter months. You need light throughout the day, not just in the morning, and you want exposure without sunglasses.
5. Wake up with Accelerated Keto®
When you take Accelerated Keto®, it flips you into burning your body fat for energy. As a result, your appetite is suppressed because your body no longer needs dietary fuel and can feed off its body fat. While you don’t eat and instead burn your fat stores, blood sugar, and insulin levels lower, and quickly become consistently low and stable. The roller coaster ride of blood sugar and cravings is finished. This helps halt the physical addiction to food and the dependence on dietary carbohydrates for energy.
6. Eat certain amino acids and fatty acids to increase CCK
CCK is a hormone released by your gut that reduces your appetite. It is stimulated by amino acids, particularly L-glutamine, and certain fatty acids, particularly Omega 3 fatty acids which come from fish, algae, kelp, and krill, and CLA.
CCK is stimulated by certain neurons in the gut and by the mucous lining and the microbiome. Your gut won’t signal that you are full until it registers a certain amount of amino acids and fatty acids. This is why carbs and even vegetables don’t satisfy your appetite. If you begin your meal by eating protein, you are likely to eat less, as your brain registers the amino acids and fatty acids.
Additionally, L-Glutamine can reduce sugar cravings. Your body uses amino acids for energy through a process called gluconeogenesis and for building muscle tissue and other cellular repairs in the body.
With sufficient amino acids and fatty acids ingested, you will tend to eat within healthy ranges and not overeat. Furthermore, after hours of not eating and following up with a protein and fat meal first, you decrease the Insulin to Glucagon Ratio, meaning the blood sugar will barely rise, fat burning will increase, and blood sugar won’t subsequently fall drastically. This halts the typical roller coaster of blood sugar seen with a high-carb meal. As a result, this will suppress the physical craving for typical binge foods.
7. Reset leptin sensitivity
Leptin is a hormone that is released by the fat cells to tell the brain it has enough body fat and reduces appetite. However, obese people and people with insulin resistance usually suffer from Leptin Resistance, which creates an abnormal response to the release of leptin. Essentially the brain doesn’t listen to the leptin signals.
As a result, there is no “OFF SWITCH” for appetite when Leptin Resistance is present. As you reset Insulin Resistance, you will reset Leptin Resistance, and your hormone signals will behave normally and lead to not overeating.
8. Supplement with Berberine
Berberine has a similar effect on blood sugar as Metformin, which is a common prescription for Type II Diabetics. It keeps blood sugar low, which helps with appetite and cravings that accompany food addiction.
9. Exercise around meal time
By moving, walking, doing squats, or any type of physical movement, the rise of blood sugar and glucose will be blunted. Exercise can also signal to your brain that you are going to make a “healthy choice” and steer away from caving into your food cravings.
10. Eliminate processed foods
Processed foods are so hyper-palatable that they blunt your normal taste buds and also decrease CCK. These processed foods have emulsifiers in them to extend their shelf life.
Emulsifiers bring together fat and water, but those emulsifiers strip away the mucosal lining of the gut and cause the neurons to retract in the gut. As a consequence, the signals from CCK are shut down and never get triggered to shut down hunger. As a result, you end up wanting to eat more.
Furthermore, your gut now can’t register the amino acids and fatty acids of the healthy food to signal satiety. They are limiting the gut’s ability to measure what is in the food you ingest to be able to shut down hunger. They also affect your brain’s registration of dopamine which regulates your cravings for sugar so that your cravings become unmanageable.
11. Eliminate Fake Sweeteners
Fake sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, dextrose, maltitol, and others not only raise blood sugar but also stimulate your appetite for real sugar and carbs.
Furthermore, these fake sugars wreak havoc on the gut microbiome, which can lead to a leaky gut, bloating, malabsorption of nutrients, and inflammation. Monk Fruit and Stevia are healthy sweeteners that lower blood sugar.
12. Use Acids
Adding lemon, lime, and apple cider vinegar have been shown to blunt the rise of blood sugar. Not only that, but they don’t break a fast or kick you out of ketosis for those of you trying to gain the benefits of fasting and a ketogenic diet. Lastly, they can be used to flavor water with a little stevia to suppress food cravings.
13. Use Accelerated Ancient Salt™
If you are depleted of sodium, it will evoke a process in the central nervous system that induces the motivated state to satisfy the sodium appetite. But, that sodium craving can trigger sugar cravings.
Neurons start responding to sweets such as sucrose in response to sodium cravings. Just from doing this a few times, your brain has created a habit loop of satisfying sodium needs with a sugar craving.
As you lower the carbs, use Accelerated Ancient Salt™, which contains more than 60 natural minerals beyond just sodium, to satisfy your cravings for sodium and sweets.
14. Prioritize a low carb diet
Carbohydrates are what cause inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. A high-carb diet is connected to many metabolic diseases including diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, and thyroid disease.
Carbs increase blood sugar and insulin quickly and then create a quick drop in blood sugar that is followed by a strong craving for more carbs. They also cause an increase in dopamine in the short term which is the reason these foods become the center of food addiction.
When you eliminate these foods, dopamine signaling becomes reset, blood sugar becomes stable, and the food addiction becomes less intense.
15. Join the Ascent Diet Cleanse
The comprehensive Ascent Diet Cleanse incorporates supplements to help flush gallstones and liver stones out of the body safely.
The synergistic combination increases ATP production and efficacy and increases mitophagy, autophagy, thyroid health, metabolism, mental clarity, physical energy, endurance, and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. As a result, clients become more energetic and motivated, lose body fat, increase the cells’ ability to absorb nutrients and release toxins that affect ATP production, while improving mental and physical energy.
Furthermore, dopamine and all of the hormones become regulated, and the “addiction” to a dopamine hit becomes lessened. A connection between “Dopamine Hits” and healthier habits like exercise and laughter grows stronger.
The Ascent Diet Cleanse includes supplements, group coaching and support.
16. LifeWave Energy Enhancer Patches
The LifeWave Energy Enhancer Patches increase ATP production in the mitochondria, increase Heart Rate Variability, improve the “phase angle” or integrity of the cell walls, reduce inflammation, and increase endurance.
After just 20 minutes, the capacity of each cell increases. With age, the cell walls become rigid and hard to penetrate with nutrients coming in and toxins going out. The Energy Enhancer Patches soften that cell wall and improve that phase angle within five minutes of applying the patch.
Additionally, the patches improve digestion and circulation which are essential for nutrient absorption that leads to improved energy.
Lastly, they increase beta-oxidation which is the fastest way to increase cellular energy. As a plus, it increases fat burning and muscle growth. They work synergistically with the Accelerated Keto® in your fat burning and tapping into an endless supply of fuel sources in your body, so that your cravings for carbs and sugar decrease.
17. LifeWave Y-age Glutathione Patches
Glutathione is the master antioxidant, detoxifier, immune booster, and neuroprotector. The LifeWave Y-age Glutathione Patch increases glutathione by 300% in 24 hours. When worn in conjunction with the Lifewave X39 patch, glutathione production increases to 400%.
Additionally, it is Antiviral and great for infections. For chronic issues, it brings glutathione levels up so suffering goes down in symptoms like autoimmune issues, arthritis, autism, MS, and Parkinson’s. It is known to help with fighting foreign pathogens that can contribute to the cravings for sugar.
18. LifeWave Y-age Carnosine Patches
Carnosine is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the body, of which production declines with age. LifeWave Carnosine Patches increase the levels.
Studies on carnosine show that it plays a vital role in overall health, neuroprotection, and anti-aging. In clinical studies, carnosine has also been shown to improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. For athletes, it has been shown to blunt the lactic acid effect that slows muscle and endurance progress.
If the body is deficient in Carnosine and other amino acids, the cravings for sugar and carbs increase to seek out satisfying those dietary needs.
19. LifeWave Y-age Aeon Patches
The LifeWave Y-age Aeon Patch is known as the “Happy Patch”. It increases SOD antioxidants in the body and is turning on our innate immune system. The Aeon patch puts you into the parasympathetic state so you are not constantly in the sympathetic state of “fight or flight”.
Benefits of the Aeon Patch include stress reduction, a healthy inflammatory response, a reduction of cortisol and C reactive proteins, an elevation of DHEA, a calm sense of well-being, and increased energy. Cortisol from stress can increase blood sugar on its own, and many engage in food binges when experiencing moments of stress. As Aeon takes you out of the stressed state, you can rationally make healthy food choices.
Sleep is imperative for cellular health and repair. Without proper sleep, aging is accelerated, and physical and mental energy suffer.
Furthermore, without sufficient sleep, ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increases, causing an increased chance for food binges. It is proven that sleep increases testosterone and human growth hormone which are directly related to anti-aging, improved energy, and increased ATP production.
Everyone needs between 7-9 hours of sleep; no one is exempt from this requirement.
21. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a hormetic stressor that allows the body to increase its mitophagy and autophagy, heal Leaky Gut, increase metabolism and thyroid health, increase ATP production in the mitochondria, and allow the body to switch into Ketosis, tapping into its fat stores for energy. All of these mechanisms help reset insulin sensitivity and blunt food addiction cravings.
Nucnomore® helps eliminate all non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation. Radiation not only causes an increased risk of cancer, thyroid disease, and other chronic diseases but also degrades the health of the cells which leads to unstable blood sugar and cravings for sugar. This is the only supplement able to zero out radiation from the body and can help with stabilizing food cravings.
23. Increase protein
Protein helps stabilize insulin and improve the Insulin Glucagon Ratio; this ratio helps increase fat burning and stabilize a healthy relationship with food; it is difficult to binge on protein. Protein helps control food addiction. The goal is to prioritize wild animal protein in your diet, fill in with vegetables, and include healthy fats according to your weight goals.
24. Group Coaching and Community
Overcoming the emotional part of food addiction can be difficult, and a community can be an encouraging tool for motivation and support.
If you would like to join my Free group coaching, we would love to have you.
Sara Banta is a Stanford University Graduate with a Degree in Economics and Psychology, and a certified Natural Supplement Expert & Graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sara is the Founder of Accelerated Health Products and host of the health & wellness podcast, Accelerated Health Radio.