For many reasons, processed food addiction may be more difficult to put into remission than drug addiction. Due to availability of cheap processed foods, lots of triggers, misinformation, and skills required for recovery, food addiction can be a tough disease to overcome. Millions have tried to treat food addiction as a weight-loss issue and have failed. We all know that drug addiction is hard to beat and without the right training, food addiction may be even more difficult to conquer.
The Food Addiction Intensive Training works to overcome these challenges because it is built from extensive research showing addictive overeating to be a broad and serious problem. The Training recognizes the nature of the problem as a conditioning of the craving pathways in the brain in response to triggers for addictive foods and additives in our environments. It incorporates research showing that processed foods appear to damage our ability to learn, make decisions, and remember.
Fortunately, there is also research showing how to recover. The Training recognizes the need to protect the brain not just from eating addictive foods, but also from intense advertising and availability. We also need to rebuild the brain's abilities to learn, decide, and remember. We educate about how to accomplish withdrawal, maintain a non-addictive food plan, restore stability in the brain, and build protection from relapse.
The following list shows that we are subjected to virtually constant pressure to relapse into overeating. The long list of relapse triggers helps explain the need for the comprehensive structure of the Food Addiction Intensive Training. The list illustrates the need for a wide-reaching approach to food addiction.
Processed foods and relapse triggers are everywhere.
Addictive foods are everywhere. They are available at home, workplaces, along our roads, at our entertainment and sports events, faith organizations, and shopping venues. They are much easier to get than recreational drugs. And they’re cheap. Addictive foods are woven into our family, social and business traditions. People may push them on us.
Household members may pressure the recovering food addict to keep processed foods in the house. Food addicts agree because they feel guilty about ‘depriving’ others of processed foods. This availability has been shown to trigger cravings.
Unlike recovery from other substances, visual triggers from overuse of processed foods are present in recovery. Heroin addicts can avoid the triggering sight of needles, but food addicts cannot avoid the sights of knife, fork, plate, table, grocery store, etc.
Our bodies and minds are susceptible and vulnerable.
All of the major addictive brain pathways are activated by different processed foods. These pathways include the opiate, dopamine, serotonin, endorphin, and endocannabinoid pathways. These pathways contain cells which are easy to condition to crave.
When many different substances are being used, the addiction is harder to put into remission.
Food addiction can be made worse by dysfunction throughout the body. Processed foods have been shown to disrupt many functions including enzymes, peptides, hormones, and even the bacteria growing in our guts.
Food addiction is reinforced by survival instincts which drive us to seek calorie-dense foods.
Food addiction can start at a very young age. The processed food industry targets children. The younger an addiction starts, the harder it is to put into remission.
The food industry, government, media, and schools promote food addiction.
The processed food industry was owned by the tobacco industry for about 20 years. Tobacco executives are reported to have taught the food industry the value of addictive business practices such as product formulation, intense marketing to youngsters, lots of outlets, and low prices.
It is possible that food industry may add addictive additives to our food without our knowledge. Regulation of additives and labeling is ineffective.
The food industry is 13 times bigger than the tobacco industry which means it exerts a powerful influence on government, as well as the health, diet, and media industries.
The US government encourages food addiction through publicity campaigns such as the food pyramid which promotes the use of sugar, gluten, and dairy. The US government subsidizes addictive crops such as sugar, wheat, and corn. Government regulations require schools to buy and serve addictive foods containing gluten and dairy.
Media asserts that we don’t have time to cook and that eating healthy is expensive. Media earns about $10 billion per year from the processed food industry.
The diet industry promotes the use of addictive processed foods through the marketing of these products and books that advocate recipes for addictive triggering foods.
Schools make addictive food and drinks available to children in the classroom, cafeteria, and vending machines. Teachers use coupons for addictive foods to reward students.
Food addicts come into recovery deeply confused about weight-gain versus food addiction as the nature of the problem. The misinformation was gained in many cases from sources that the addict trusted. Letting go of misguided advice adds to the burden of recovering from food addiction.
Processed foods have been shown to be addictive.
Different processed foods are combined into ‘poly-substance’ use which is harder to treat than single-substance use. Fast food meals typically contain sweeteners, flour, gluten, processed fats, excessive salt, dairy, and caffeinated drinks.
Processed foods can be more addictive than recreational drugs. Sugar has been shown to reach the brain faster and more powerfully than cocaine when administered similarly. Rats choose sugar and saccharin over heroin and cocaine. High Fructose Corn Syrup has been shown to act on the body like corn alcohol. A withdrawal syndrome has been shown for processed fat and for packaged foods. Caffeine has several diagnoses in the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Illness published by the American Psychiatric Association. Dairy and gluten both contain naturally occurring opiates that act on the brain like morphine.
Expert help is hard to find.
Health professionals commonly don’t know how to treat food addiction. Training is unavailable to health professionals. Treatment may be inadequate with addictive foods being left in food plans. If food addiction is misdiagnosed as a weight-loss issue, addictive foods might have been re-introduced at goal weight, thus re-establishing the addiction. Food addiction may have been intensified by misguided treatment for weight-loss including restricted calorie dieting, weight-loss surgery, liquid diets, diet pills, etc.
Food addicts may be isolated and unable to find meaningful support. The addiction may have damaged finances making treatment unaffordable.
Dieticians are trained by the processed food industry to recommend the use of processed foods. Hospitals and health professionals may be required by law to rely on dieticians.
Support groups may be misguided about best practices.
Food addiction recovery requires skills.
Processed foods have been shown to impair learning, decision-making, and memory. In spite of this, food addicts must learn to follow a food plan in heavily triggering environments such as grocery store, restaurant, and even home kitchen. Food addicts may have debilitating physical, emotional, or mental diseases such as fatigue, depression, brain fog, heart disease, or obesity which may make it difficult to acquire the skills and meals needed for successful recovery.
Food addicts need to learn the difficult task of setting effective boundaries with family, colleagues, and friends. Loved ones and colleagues may try to sabotage recovery, unintentionally or otherwise.
The adult food addict may be faced with helping to manage addicted children through withdrawal which is stressful.
Taste functions may be impaired making non-addictive foods seem bland for the first few weeks.
A comprehensive solution.
From this list, perhaps now you can see why it is so difficult to control addictive overeating without an expert approach. Thinking that we can manage such a difficult disease without extensive and long-term help is unrealistic for many.
However, you might also see that by breaking down the process into easy steps, it’s possible to overcome food addiction. Although it’s a complex disease, it can be overcome if taken bit by bit. Conquering food addiction takes systematic exposure to good information taught in easy-to-learn segments in a sympathetic group.
Eliminating addictive foods, making beautiful meals, and avoiding triggers will be helpful. Learning techniques for repairing learning, decision-making, and memory functions will make all the difference to success. Gaining graceful ways to defend against food pushers makes it ‘doable.’
The many forces promoting food addiction in our government, food and health industries, media, and schools show why it would be valuable to learn from an expert at a reasonable pace over the course of a year.