Monday, November 7, 2011

Understanding Food Addiction and Weight Loss

Losing weight has been the second most important and difficult thing I have done in my entire life. Second because being a parent is the most important, and difficult, thing I've ever done.

Both are equally as rewarding as the other. Unlike parenting, however, sometimes weight loss is something I want to give up on. I say this because with parenting you see the differences you make daily, in sometimes dramatic ways, and other times in subtle ways. But as a parent I see it. And those who more than have a chance meeting with me see it as well.

With weight loss, however, people can see you and automatically judge you and make jokes without even realizing that you've been striving and actually making a difference. And if they see you tomorrow, they still won't know.

It needs to be understood that weight loss is a very long process. I may feel the burn when I do my weight training, but you cannot see it, and the outer effects won't be seen for months.

In order to understand weight loss, you must also understand binge eating, which is most commonly the cause of weight gain. You must understand that it is an eating disorder just like anorexia and bulimia. None of it is healthy, obviously, but they are all equally eating disorders.

The average binge eater isn't going to the fridge and carting celery and carrots to the couch. They don't have the same effect on the brain.

Processed foods and foods high in sugar cause an excess release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the 'feel good' neurotransmitter affecting the brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and the ability to experience pain and pleasure. It's also the most active neurotransmitter in addiction.

We all know addiction is difficult. But it's treatable. Food addiction, however, is tricky.

It's as every bit detrimental as alcoholism, heroin addiction and smoking, among other things. But the body does not need these substances to continue functioning. It does, however, need food. You can't just stop eating. There's no such thing as weaning yourself off of food or going 'cold turkey'. Food is everywhere. You need it in your home, and when you run out, or are near out, you go to the store, where you are bombarded with every type of food and every ingredient for meal preparation.

On the way to the store there are restaurants and fast food joints. When shopping at Wal Mart or the mall there's at least one food stop you can make. And the mall typically has a food court. You can't even go into a gas station to pay for your gas without there being drinks and food.

And when there isn't food there's advertisements for food. Nearly 50% of all commercials are food advertisements, and 17% of the total commercials are for fast food alone. Eighty percent of Nickelodeon's food commercials target fast food and junk food. Out of those, nearly 60% don't even meet the recommended nutrition standards for food marketing to children, according to the BBB's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. What's more disturbing is that foods such as Eggo Waffles and Kid Cuisine's actually get the CFBAI's green light.

Not only are we bombarded by food, but the advertising is reaching to our children. No wonder childhood obesity is also on the rise. This isn't to say that these companies are solely responsible for childhood obesity. Ultimately it lies on the parents, but the threats and pressures are still there.

Because food is necessary to survive, it becomes one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. If you make the decision to end the cycle with yourself, you have to do so wisely. When I first began to aim for weight loss, on my own accord, I went for portion control and exercising. But this did not work.

Then I went for counting calories. This did work, however the weight loss wasn't the way it should have been.

I failed come the holidays. Instead of accepting that I let the holidays become the crux of backpedaling, I just let it go and continued with the unhealthy choices.

When I decided I was tired of the shit and to get back on track, I did something I never had previously. I began doing research. I counted calories while I researched. I researched binge eating, food addiction, weight loss and health.

I learned so much, hence my decision to follow the WWPP program, as it focuses on the most important aspects of weight loss and maintenance as well as overall health.

In my endeavors for an increased knowledge base, I've come to the understanding that those who suffer from obesity will not lose weight by starving yourself. And yes, by consuming only 500 calories a day, even if it's because you're 'too busy' or 'not hungry', you are starving yourself. You're starving your body of vital nutrients and the fuel it needs to burn the very fat you wish to lose.

I feel it is so important to understand weight loss, the science behind it, in order to achieve it. You don't need to understand how every cell in your body works or all of those big scientific words to gain a general understanding of how weight loss works.

I also feel that it's important to understand the reasons behind obesity. I have no doubt in my mind that there are some that simply don't give a shit. I know... I once sat in that chair. But obesity goes beyond the fat. It's a mental problem. It's an illness. An addiction. If you don't judge those who suffer from depression, why judge those who suffer from food addiction?

As a person who has suffered from depression, I can tell you that I would much rather suffer from depression 1000 times over than suffer from food addiction for even one day. At least my depression was treatable and medications were not a permanent way of life.

Food addiction is something I will always battle. Food addiction doesn't fade with the weight that is lost. It is still there. Every advertisement. Every car ride. Every shopping trip. They will be constant tests of will power.  Food will always be a focal point. It's something that people surround during celebrations and during a moment of self pity. But for a person who suffers from food addiction, slipping up and giving in just one time could be the one time that results in all the work lost.

So the next time you make a fat joke or insult a person based on their weight, think about it. Do you make fun of a heroin addict or an alcoholic stumbling the streets? Addiction isn't funny. It's a real medical condition. So is food addiction and obesity.


  1. Great post. Clearly you have put in a lot of thought and research into it. It needed to be said. And I have tried explaining the food vs. drugs,etc. and going cold turkey thing to people before. Its a very valid point. You can't quit food! Good luck with everything.

  2. Thank you. I find that many people don't believe food addiction actually exists. They seem to find the effects of artificial sweeteners, chemicals and overall processed foods on the dopamine transmitters to be a load of BS and another 'excuse' fatties make. But if they bothered to pull their heads out of the sand for a fraction of a second and do research, they would find that I am indeed correct. I'm not just another fat girl making excuses. I've done my research. Hell, like I said, I feel that my research is what has helped me make it as far as I have.


Phat Archive