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Eating Too Much Food? Getting Rid of Food Addiction

Updated on March 30, 2018
TessSchlesinger profile image

In 1983, with doctors unable to cure me, I studied the human body and diet. Since then, food as medicine has been a strong interest.

Are You Eating Too Much Food?

It's really easy to tell if you are eating too much food! You'll be overweight. Yes, of course, some people can eat more than others and not show the weight. That's the luck of the draw. We seem to be born with the kind of metabolism we have. The good news is that it doesn't make that much of a difference. Certainly, some people might be able to eat one or two doughnuts more, but for the most part, when we are overweight, it's because we eat substantially more than others.

The bad part about this is not only that we put on weight, but that something happens in the body. Our systems start to clog up, and then we don't digest food so well anymore, and then we begin to put on weight ever faster. So it becomes increasingly more difficult to shed the weight and kill the cravings.

Yes, cravings develop.

Who doesn't have a problem eating too much of the good stuff?
Who doesn't have a problem eating too much of the good stuff? | Source

Food Cravings! The Sign of Food Addiction.

You're not imaginging it. You really do feel hungry, and you feel so much better after you've had a slice or six of buttered toast and marmalade. Two hours later, you feel depleted and you need to snack on a large slab of chocolate. Three hours later, you go out to lunch with friends and you're ravenous! One large plate of spaghetti coming up. You have nothing but coffee in the afternoon to keept your energy up. You feel despair. You know you've overeaten, but you're so hungry. In the evening, you're too tired to cook a meal so you go to McDonalds and you grab a Big Mac. By nine in the evening, you're snackish again. Out comes the tin of cookies. In the morning, you weight yourself. You sigh with relief. You didn't gain an ounce. Two days later, you note you're two kilos heavier!

You're addicted. You're not hungry.

My Mini-kitchen

My chicken and veggie soup is ready to eat! Scroll through to 'How to stop junk food cravings for recipe.'
My chicken and veggie soup is ready to eat! Scroll through to 'How to stop junk food cravings for recipe.'

What Causes Food Addiction? Why are You Eating Too Much?

In broad strokes, there are three categories of food. They are:

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates (carbs) are divided into several other groups.

  • Fiber - greens
  • Starches
  • Sugars

Starches are divided into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

Starches and sugars are addictive because they produce the same high in your brain that substances like cocaine do.

Both starches and sugars use insulin to break them down into the chemicals that your body needs for energy production. Insulin also stimulates the appetite, so the more we eat foods that need insulin to break our food down, the more our appetite increases.

Examples of starches are grains and potatoes. Any food that is made from a grain is starch rich. That would include bread, pasta, pizza, and cake. Some foods like beans, while containing protein, are also high in starch.

It is irrelevant whether the starch is simple or complex. All that the complex starch does is slow down the process of digestion. It's still starch!

Yes, complex carbohydrates certainly contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than simple carbs do. However, greens and fruit provide far greater quantities of these food elements.

Just as drug addiction means wanting more and more of a good feeling, so food addiction means wanting more and more food. So we crave food even when we aren’t hungry, and we eventually cannot tell the difference between real hunger and an addictive craving.The reason you initally became addicted to food is that, at a certain point, you ate too much sugar and starch. At that point, you 'developed a habit.'

It's the same process whereby if you smoke a cigarette, the first time is pretty nasty. The second time, it's tolerable. By the time you've smoked a dozen, it's become pleasant, and by the time you've smoked six packs, you're addicted. Same thing with starch and sugar. You become addicted by eating too much starch and sugar.

Because I try to avoid coffee and tea, and because we must drink, I found healthier solutions. I fill the flask with rooibos tea every morning and I fill a pitcher with 1/3 100% fruit juice ad 2/3 water. I keep it in the fridge.
Because I try to avoid coffee and tea, and because we must drink, I found healthier solutions. I fill the flask with rooibos tea every morning and I fill a pitcher with 1/3 100% fruit juice ad 2/3 water. I keep it in the fridge.

Grains - Rice, Wheat, Rye, Barley, etc. - Contain Too Much Starch

Starch is a white, stodgy substance that is contained in root vegetables, legumes, and grains. Grains like rice and wheat are are mostly starch while legumes have some protein as well.

It is a myth by the commercial sector that grains are good for you. Anything with a high starch or high sugar content needs to be avoided.

Corn flour comprises 74% starch. According to the FAO, the food and agricultural body of the United Nations, "Starch is the major constituent of milled rice at about 90%." Seventy five percent of white wheat flour is starch. Beans contain between 65% and 70% starch depending on the type of beans.

Some foods contain resistant starch (starch that resists digestion). This means that the starch is not fully digested by the human body. Instead they are converted to short-chain fatty acids and digested by the good bacteria in your tummy.

They then act like fiber in the body and clean up the digestive system. Green bananas contain resistant starch. Raw oats has the highest amount of resistant starch.

How industry makes food addictive

Sugar is Deadly.

According to the World Health Organisation, our diets should only contain 5% of ingredients that are sweet. We eat far more than that. In fact, much of the sugar we eat is unknown to us. That's because sugar is used as a preservative in foods. It's also knowingly used by processed food manufacturers in order to keep us coming back for more. They know it's addtive.

According to the University of California, San Francisco, "Growing scientific evidence shows that eating too much added sugar is linked to serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and liver disease."

We are caught between the desire for well-being and joy which sugar brings us and the deadly diseases that it produces when we take it in excess.


Humans consumed two teaspoons of honey per year 2000 years ago.

Today the average person consumes 150 lbs of sugar per annum.

My Vital Shopping List

In order to stop impusle buying, I laminited my grocery list and pinned it up in my kitchen. It's a steady reminder of what I can eat and the ingredients I need!
In order to stop impusle buying, I laminited my grocery list and pinned it up in my kitchen. It's a steady reminder of what I can eat and the ingredients I need!

Too Much Food!

In my long-ago youth, I used to be able to eat one square of chocolate and that was more than enough to make me feel good. These days, if I can happily eat three large slabs of chocolate

What happened?

Until my early early 40s, I didn't eat a lot of food. My diet was based on a fistful of meat, a small potato, and three green vegetables. I loved spinach, long green beans, cabbage, and peas. I could cheerfully cook up a pot of cabbage, melt butter over it, and then sink into food-bliss.

Another example might be that in my early years, one banana or one orange was enough to take me through two or three hours without needing anything more to eat. The other night, I found myself eating five oranges and six peaches and I was still hungry afterwards. That is food addiction.

I began to feel tired during my early 40s. In those days, I read a lot of chick-lit magazines. They advocated eating carbs like pasta to give energy. So, while up to that stage of my life, it was not something I ate, I started. I began to pick up an enormous amount of weight, and the tiredness did not go. In fact, the more pasta I ate, the more I wanted. I never seemed to be sated. My appetite increased.

Food addiction is the need to keep eating when one is not only overweight but feels compelled to eat more and more. It’s when we think of food all day long. It’s when we finish a jar of peanuts, consume an entire packet of spaghetti, eat five pork chops, and we still have room for more. It’s also when the only time we can stop eating is when we feel ill from the sheer quantity we have eaten.

We cannot stop eating too much food!

This is the kind of food that should be in our fridges.

How to Stop Eating Food We Do Not Need

There are two sides to food addiction.

  • The first one is physiological in that our bodies are craving food because we have triggered an exaggerated insulin response.
  • The second is emotional. We eat because there is either too much stress in our lives or too little joy. In order to eradicate our way eating, we need to deal with the latter before we are able to deal with the former.

The biggest factor in eradicating any addiction is the desire to do so.

It’s impossible to stop cravings if there isn’t a greater desire not to give into the cravings.

How to Become Happy

There are books written on this topic. How do we find joy? How can we get rid of the stress? Why are some people happy and we are not?

I don't know all the answers. I don't think many people do. However, I can give you the following tips which work for me.

  1. Find an exercise you love. If you love dancing, find a dancing school. If you love swimming, find a pool. If you love cycling, join a bicycle club. Find a form of exercise that you will do because you love it - not because you have to. When you do that exercise over and over again, it triggers endorphins in your body, and you feel good. You'll make new friends as well!
  2. The wrong people can be a drain in our lives. I once cut my mother out for five years. It enabled me to start anew. I met her once at the end of five years and that was the last time I saw her. It was no better than previously. She hadn't changed. I had. Yes, it's difficult to let go of family and friends we've known forever, but sometimes we need to let go even if there's nobody to fill the gap.
  3. Work less. This is a tough one. Nobody should work more than twenty hours per week. Our human bodies were not made for it. We will eventually impair our health if we continue to work the hours that are demanded of us by commerce today. We need that extra time for self-care, to think, and simply to unwind. If it means having a lower standard of living or moving to another country where it's easier, we need to consider whether it's better to be addicted to food with growing health problems or to be happy living a different sort of life.

By the way, if you're like me, you believe that the word ‘exercise’ needs to be removed from the English language. That's why the really important thing to do here is to find an activity that you love! I love to dance, swim, and cycle, so I stick to these activities. I also love to walk, but despite what exercise pundits say about walking, it never gives me the same high that dancing and swimming do.

Red Rooibos Tea 100 Teabags USDA Organic - Naturally Caffeine Free - Cederberg Tea Company
Red Rooibos Tea 100 Teabags USDA Organic - Naturally Caffeine Free - Cederberg Tea Company

This is the brand of rooibos tea that I drink. Rooibos tea has many health assets. It is tannin and caffeine free. I like it sweet so I use stevia with it. However, increasingly, my sweet tooth is disappearing. As rooibos tea is grown solely in South Africa and we have excellent growing protocols, I would assume that other brands are okay. I just happen to use this one as I live in the Western Cape. It's brilliant!

 

How to Stop Cravings for Junk Food

This is not as simple as a low carb diet. Fibre, vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, chlorphyll, etc. are needed by the body, and some carbs contain these essential nutrients. We need the 'right sort of carbs.' The greater the nutrient content of your food, the less likely you will develop food cravings.

Here's a bullet list of steps to take to start dealing carb cravings.

  1. Increase the protein. Boiled eggs are excellent. Two boiled eggs in the morning, served with half an avo, and black rooibos tea sweetened with stevia is as good as it gets! Also have a veggie omelette in the evening. Don't add milk to your omelette.
  2. Keep a large pot of home-made soup on the stove, ready to dish out whenever cravings come. To prepare it, combine two chicken pieces with bones attached, two cups of frozen veggies, half a cup of red house wine, a teaspoon of curry powder or tumeric, and teaspoon of salt. Add suffiient water to cover ingredients. Cook for an hour until the chicken is falling off the bone, and the bones are very soft (it frees the collagen inside the bone). Take the pot off the stove. Add a handful of freshly chopped parsley and half a cup of chopped avocado pear. Eat whenever you feel cravings coming on.
  3. Purchase bovine or porcine gelatine. In a bowl, pour a little boiling hot water. Dissolve three heaped teaspoons of gelatine in the water. (Do not use jello.) Stir until all is melted. If you would like it sweet, add some stevia and continue to stir until dissovled. Thereafter add a cup of fresh fruit juice (Do not use pineapple.) Then pour in some cold water. Slice a banana very thinly and add. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Refrigerate at the bottom of the fridge until it is set. I keep two bowls like this in the fridge at all times. Gelatine is pure protein.
  4. Greens are a must and iceberg lettuce is one of the world's best kept secrets when it comes to eradicating food cravings. It contains a massive amount of iron and this frees up energy in your body. The lettuce also has a high water content and is crunchy. This makes you chew more and, therefore, is better at sating your appetite. Mix with small tomatoes, olives, corgettes, and avo. For the dressing, mix freshly squeezed lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil and a dash of stevia. I generally put this in a bottle and keep it in the fridge for when I need it.
  5. Oats are a life-saver when it comes to feeling like some sort of starch. Again, preparation is the key. Add three desertspoons of oats to a bowl. Add sliced apple, banana, berries or some other fruit. Add a handful of nuts (peanuts are acceptable.) Add sufficient water to cover. Scatter some cinnamon over the top and leave in fridge overnight. Eat in the morning or during the day.
  6. Smoothie. Chuck parsley, fruit of your choice, flaxseed, avo if you are not going to eat it in another meal, cinnamon, gelatine (after you've dissolved it in a little hot water), and water in a blender, and mix.
  7. Practice intermittant fasting. I try to eat only for 8 hours a day and the other 16, I don't touch food. Intermittant fasting cures cravings and contributes to weight loss.

You can have as much of any of these dishes as you like.

In a week or two, you shouldn't be having anymore cravings.

Coffee and Tea

There are all sorts of stories about coffee and tea. Here’s one I’m willing to bet you haven’t heard. Both coffee and tea contain ingredients that slow down weight loss. If you ever get to see a Naturopath (a doctor who heals only with food) the first thing he will remove from your diet is coffee and tea. If you want to lose weight, he will explain to you that these items will be destructive to any efforts you make.

My own experience?

I once went to a Naturopath. He wrote out a menu for me and told me not to touch coffee or tea. For the first three weeks, I didn’t. I also lost seven kilos of weight per week for three weeks. The forth week I had two cups of tea. I lost three kilos. The first thing he said to me was, “Have you had any tea? I was hoping you would lose more.”

Here's why coffee is bad for you!

Yes, I also read the articles about how coffee prolongs your life, etc. The problem is that I suspect that the coffee industry pays for that research. I remember well the tobacco industry and its refussal to admit the connection to lung cancer or the sugar industry bribing to Harvard professors to say that fat caused disease - not sugar (it was the other way round).

I 100% advocate you switch to rooibos tea. It is stunningly delicious when combined with stevia. First thing in the morning, I make a flask of it, and then I pop it in my bag and whenever I get hungry, I have a few sips.

Do you believe that you have an addiction to food?

See results

The only dietician I recommend.

Eat. Nourish. Glow.: 10 easy steps for losing weight, looking younger & feeling healthier
Eat. Nourish. Glow.: 10 easy steps for losing weight, looking younger & feeling healthier

Amelia Freer is the only dietician I know of that teaches the exact diet that I spent many years researching and read many, many books about how food interacts with the body. I truly believe she has it right. In addition to anything else, it cuts down substantially on food bills, pots and pans, and time spent in the kitchen. There are those who indicate that they have lost a stone a week on her way of eating (that's 14 lbs). And, believe me, you are satisfied when you finish a meal. :) Sam Smith lost an incredible 14 lbs in 14 days on this diet! She also has a news letter to which she subscribes. I use this book. It's brilliant!

 

Life Without a Diet

The word diet has come to mean a way of eating that reduces weight. I don’t think that works. I think we have to think of diet as a way of eating that will enable us to live healthy, correct-weight lives until the day we drop. We have to have a permanent diet eating food that is:

  1. Inexpensive and always available.
  2. Quick and easy to prepare
  3. Delicious and something we always want to heat
  4. Highly nutritious

Recently Sam Smith, the singer, dropped an amazing 14 lbs in 14 days eating the right way!

I want to advocate that you follow the way of eating that Amelia Freer teaches. Her website provides enough recipes to give going and she has several books available on Amazon. If you're going to use a cookbook, to me, any of hers will do. I like Jamie Oliver as well.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

Comments

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    • profile image

      Lee 

      5 months ago

      This is a very useful article. I am going to share this with my household for their own benefit.

    • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tessa Schlesinger 

      2 years ago from South Africa

      Nice to know PaigSr. I still battle. I go for weeks or months without eating certain things, break the addiction, then I get stressed or upset about something, eat something I shouldn't and in no time at all, I'm addicted. I used to have the same pattern with cigarettes but haven't smoked for some 18 years now. I hope that I can have the same type of solution with food. :)

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 

      2 years ago from State of Confusion

      I admit that I have certain foods that I will only eat when I have a job. Sort of a reward for working. So its sort of a part time addiction. ;-) In the good news I have actually brought that list down to just two items. It was six.

    • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tessa Schlesinger 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you Chitrangada. :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful and informative hub about how to get rid of food addiction. Less of physical work, more of junk food and a bad lifestyle leads to obesity. Its important to understand what not to eat and what to eat, at what duration and in what quantity to get rid of those extra pounds.

      You have suggested some great tips here. Thanks for sharing, voted up as useful!

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