Ma Bella Vita: Eating Well Magazine: Addicted to Food?

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eating Well Magazine: Addicted to Food?

So I stole borrowed a magazine from the Gym on Friday, Eating Well Magazine, to be exact:

I just finished reading a very interesting article written by Rachael M. Gorman (award-winning science writer) about whether or not food addiction is possible. The bottom line: it can be. The reason: a little something called Dopamine. In essence, dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is supposed to let us know when we've reached satisfaction and should trigger us to stop eating after a "normal portion". People with low levels of dopamine (from morbidly obese people to drug addicts) find it difficult to stop eating even after the food doesnt even taste good anymore. This was quite a disturbing quote in the article:

"A person eats a gallon of ice cream. He is not even realizing the taste of the food anymore, he's not enjoying the pleasure of the plabatability and experience; it has become automatic. The drive to have more and more [fueled by dopamine] is what maintains that behavior, independent at that point of the pleasurable response that you get. is almost like they become a robot".

To be honest, there has been certain eating episodes in the past where I've felt exactly as that quote describes. As if Im eating just to eat without getting any pleasure out of it. But then again, these episodes are far distant in between and rare so Im not quite sure if that can qualify my as an "addict".

 What interested me the most about the article were the tips they gave for conquering cravings which is something I believe we can all use a little help with. And here is what she has to say:

Anticipate Moments of weakness: For me? Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon when I am at work or right after lunch when my sweet tooth likes to make a sudden appearance.

Take one flavor at the time: The author indicates that some studies show limiting the variety in our plates can help us focus on one thing at the time rather than allowing our brain to wonder through different flavors/tastes/textures.

Ban eating in the car in front of the TV: This makes a lot of sense to me! I think it goes hand in hand with mindless eating and hence, eating more than one should and subsequently craving/wanting more.

Don’t skimp on shut eye: Apparently sleeping 7-9 hours per day can be part of the solution to stop overeating.
Keep your cool: aka: Say no to stress! When stressed some people lose control over all including cravings. So, take a deep breath and calm yourself before reaching for that tub of ice cream.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on food addiction?


  1. I know for a fact that food addiction exists, because I deal with it. For me it is a sugar addiction and if I hit a certain threshold when I consume it, I can spiral out of control easily.

  2. Hi Lori! I agree with you 100%. I have the same issue with sugar so I know exactly what you mean. I guess at the end of the day is a matter of self control and not allowing us to get to that point where out consumption of certain foods spirals out of control, as you mentioned. It might not always be easy but at least we know it's possible :)

  3. Food addiction is so very real. When I eat donuts...I could eat a dozen. And then end up being soooo sick. I have eaten to the point where I just am eating because I love the texture of it!!!

    Really good article:)

  4. i definitely believe it exists. sugar affects the same parts of your brain as any other substance! (and considering it's in EVERYTHING no wonder we're so addicted.) loved the point about taking one flavor at a time. if we're eating "a little of everything" it's so easy to forget it ALLL adds up, ya know? great post!

  5. I don't really think this article sounds like it makes any sense. IF you don't produce enough dopamine, than how could eating a gallon of ice cream be fueled by dompamine? If you are producing and releasing dopamine while you are eating that ice cream, then clearly the problem isn't a lack of dopamine, it's related more to your body not reacting correctly to the dopamine...right? Or you have a hightened response to the dopamine or a depleted response (however you want to look at it) so either way no amount of food is ever enough.

    Hmm, I definitely want to read this article!!

  6. Gina--what you're saying sounds like it makes a whole lot of sense. Im going to see if I find a copy of the article online and will email it to you. I love to hear from professionals on this matter which really intrigues me!

    Thanks for all your comments everyone! I love your feedback.

  7. Well, for me I deal with addiction to diet and energy drinks. I seem to have replaced my eating with the consumption of these unhealthy products (sugarfree Red Bull, Diet Coke, Etc.)

    Sooo not good.

    But I can totally see how there is a chemical reaction that goes on in our brains when any habitual action occurs. I guess food addiction can also be behavioral as well?

    Very interesting post!

  8. Yes. it is crazy how our brains function!!! Reading stuff about chemical reactions in our brains makes me want to become a scientist or something.


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