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the New Buzzword

by Dr. Cali Estes


ou’ve heard of drug and alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, even gaming or Facebook addiction, but have you heard the new term food addiction? Recent scientific research shows that the same reward centers of the brain that are triggered with cocaine and heroin, in both animals and humans, are also triggered with certain foods like salt, sugar and fat. Since the reward signal in the brain becomes overridden, we find ourselves eating even when full. This is why you can’t eat just one potato chip, you eat the whole bag. The salt and fat within the product trigger these reward centers in your brain, enticing you to keep eating. Have you ever seen a woman guard her bag of chocolate? Same concept here, the sugar and fat will trigger these pathways in the brain and override the signals that the stomach sends to the brain when it’s full. Now if you add the reasons why people overeat such as boredom, to stuff feelings down, to numb issues that they can’t control, and even to combat stress, you have the same reasons why people use drugs and alcohol. The problem with a food addiction is that food is not only legal, it’s a necessity for survival. That means while you can avoid the drug dealer, you cannot avoid the grocery. You need to survive after all. Think about how grocery stores are set up. You walk into fresh

baked bread, cakes, pastries, pies, and general foods that are full of sugar. If you go up and down the aisles you’ll see food-like-products, not “real food.” These food-like-products (chips, cookies, pasta, etc.) have little to no nutritional value and are some of the most chemically addictive and mood altering substances you can possibly ingest. Then there’s the social landscape. Every event or party is focused around food. Birthday parties, weddings and office and holidays parties and celebrations offer cakes and other munchies and desserts. “Girl’s night out” offers further opportunities to share a dessert or cake with several spoons. If you are in recovery from drugs or alcohol, the AA and NA meetings provide further challenges with cookies, donuts and lots of sugar for the coffee which are offered. Simply put, food has become our obsession. There are steps that you can take if you’re feeling helpless and stuck in a vicious cycle of eating the wrong foods or being physically and emotionally addicted to it. Start by cleaning out the cupboards and removing sugars from your diet. No white or brown sugar. Instead use Agave Nectar, Honey (unfiltered), or Maple Syrup. Add more fruits to your diet, such as bananas and grapes which are high in sugar and can satisfy sugar


Food Addiction,

cravings. Start removing chips, crackers and white flower substances. Replace these with rice flour or quinoa based items. This means no bread, no wheat, no corn. These are highly addictive and chemical laden items. Keep a food and mood journal it will help you break the connection between emotions and cravings. Monitor how you feel physically and emotionally and when and why you are eating. Review these often and see how your feelings correlate to your cravings. For example, when you are sad, do you reach for pasta, bread or cookies? Be aware and more importantly, be prepared to detox. You will be grumpy, tired and lethargic. But if you understand the two week process, you will make it through and feel so much better for it. Food Addiction can be a serious crippling addiction if you cannot break the cycle. You will obsess about food and how to get it and think about it all day. Dr. Estes is a seasoned addictions coach and addictions therapist. She has over 20 years experience working with drug, alcohol and food addictions. Her multidimensional approach focuses on the underlying cause of the addiction and she approaches each client in a unique manner. For more information contact Dr. Cali Estes, ICADC, MCAP, at 1-800-706-0318, or visit www.theaddictionscoach.com.

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Profile for Natural Awakenings Miami

March 2016 Natural Awakenings Miami  

Healthy Living Magazine

March 2016 Natural Awakenings Miami  

Healthy Living Magazine