Just read this and thought it might help many of you . . .
From the book Eating in Freedom, by Tom Coghill
No mysterious ingredient. The Cadbury’s secret is out. Chocolate is drug-like in its effect. Artificial taste explodes in the mouth with crunchy, smooth, sweet flavors, supplying intense pleasure. Every texture and nuance of taste contrived to stimulate your 9,000 taste buds into sending pleasure signals to the brain. The intensified pleasure effect is addictive. We don’t care about the additives or empty calories. Chocolate junkies crave a fix, driven by the desire for that chocolate pleasure. Pleasure for which we will pay any price, even our health.
Chocolate bars are loaded with salt, sugar, caffeine and fat, up to 300 calories per bar. Like a body demanding heroin for its balance, the body will crave sugar, salt and fat. Take candy from a sugar junkie, and look out! Quitting causes withdrawals. Remove sugar, processed fat or salt from your diet, and you will crave them. You will go through the discomfort of facing withdrawal similar to the withdrawal from drugs.
Strawberries and bananas don’t cause cravings. You never feel guilty about eating too many cantaloupes. You never hear little voices in the back of your head saying eat, eat, eat cantaloupe. No, because natural foods balance the body and physical cravings are caused by biochemical imbalance. Street drugs, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, salt, saturated fat, refined starch and refined sugars cause cravings because they imbalance the body’s chemistry.
Addictive substances cause the body to become dependent on an unnatural substance for homeostatic balance. Removing it will cause withdrawals. During withdrawal, the addict suffers through the painful readjustment as the body cries out for the missing substance. In a desperate attempt to maintain homeostasis, (chemical balance) the body demands the very substance that caused the imbalance.
The body’s homeostatic balance is affected by diet. Consumption of massive amounts of sugar, salt, caffeine or fried foods drastically affects homeostatic balance. Natural hunger becomes distorted as the body craves for the substances necessary for balance. The body reacts as it would to any addiction. Powerful cravings override the body’s natural needs.
Food allergies can also cause an addiction-like dependence due to homeostatic disturbance. Your favorite foods are usually the ones to which you are addicted. You usually feel better immediately after eating the food that you are addicted to, but shortly afterward the allergic reaction produces a feeling of irritability. It causes flatulence, nausea, depression or headaches. Milk, wheat and eggs are the most common allergic foods. Each contains large protein molecules with strong glue-like bonds. If the appropriate enzyme necessary for digestion is not available, these protein molecules enter the blood undigested. The immune system attacks these fragments as if they were invaders. Homeostasis has been imbalanced, and if these foods are continually eaten, the body will need them for homeostatic balance, causing an allergen-based food addiction.
The brain has 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connectors for memory alone. Each brain cell is dependent on homeostatic balance to function properly. High doses of sugar, salt, fat and caffeine can cause imbalances in the brain’s normal chemistry. Eating natural foods allows the brain’s chemistry to function normally. Natural foods assist homeostasis, supplying vitamins, minerals, soft fibers, cell salts and enzymes to assist the body in maintaining balance. In a balanced state, hunger is in relation to the body’s need for nutrition.
Eating processed food creates cravings for more processed foods. Eat fried foods, and you crave more. Eat cooked food, and you crave it. Eat sugar-filled food, and you will crave it. The Hostess Munchies are nothing more than disguised cravings for salt and fat. They promise satisfaction, but artificial pleasure never satisfies. It is a pleasure that takes by first giving. It steals valuable nutrition from your diet by feeding your body empty calories.
Addiction in the Brain
Scientists are discovering that psychological addiction has a common factor. All mood-altering drugs elevate levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain, called dopamine. Tobacco, cocaine, heroin and caffeine elevate dopamine levels and cause a feeling of euphoria. Dopamine may be the master molecule of addiction.
Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, control how the brain works and what we feel. When you feel pleasure from eating or falling in love, receiving a compliment, it is dopamine that causes the feeling. Every experience that humans find enjoyable may be linked to dopamine whether that be listening to music, savoring chocolate, sex or shooting heroin.
Fifty neurotransmitters have been discovered to date. A good half dozen are associated with addiction by causing a feeling of euphoria. Serotonin is another interesting neurotransmitter. It has a sedating effect. This neurotransmitter can be affected by rhythm, such as stroking the hair, slow deep breathing or a rocking motion. It is possible that the desire for the serotonin effect enforces repetitive habits such as nail biting, playing with hair or nose picking. There is a repetition and a rhythm to these habits. It may be an unhealthy attempt at trying to gain comfort from the serotonin effect. Starches have been known to have a calming effect on the brain due to increased levels of serotonin. We are using junk-food, starch, drugs, and bad habits to adjust our feelings through stimulating our neurotransmitters.
The pleasure effect of neurotransmitters is designed by God to form healthy, natural dependencies. A wholesome pleasure that motivates us to find good tasting food, comfortable shelter and loving relationships. Dopamine and serotonin reinforce healthy actions and behaviors.
Dopamine has a powerful ability to form triggers. During pleasure, neurological pathways are being formed that will trigger a physical and emotional reaction to repeat that pleasure. We know it as an urge. We feel impelled. Our minds can become fixed on pleasure until we think of nothing else.
Intense pleasure forms the most powerful triggers. For this reason, sex, drugs and food create the most powerful urges. A syringe, rolling papers, an X-rated video, McDonalds, anything that is associated with the pleasure, becomes a trigger for these powerful urges. Compelled by an urge, we feel pulled toward pleasure like steel to a magnet. The emotions overdrive and our body quivers with adrenaline. An addict may shake and sweat with the anticipation of pleasure. A tennis player may also experience the same reaction before a championship. The body and mind are being prepared for action.
Urges are powerful at motivating us towards good or evil. We can feel the urge to pray, the urge to be kind, the urge to create or build, or we can feel the urge to destroy. Yet, even the most powerful urge cannot negate our responsibility. We can never blame an urge for the action we have formed, built and accepted. We have given it power from the thoughts that we allowed to form.
Drugs hijack the natural reward system of humans. Smoking a joint feels like the relaxation similar to two hours in the gym. Heroin gives a pleasure similar to “runners high,” the euphoric state experienced during long distance running. But, like all mood-altering drugs, the pleasure is stolen. It has not been gained honestly through effort, achievement or challenge.
Processed food hijacks the taste buds, stealing pleasure without giving nutrition. In nature, foods that taste good are good for us. Sweetness is an indicator of calories. Saltiness is an indicator of mineral content. A bittersweet taste, like lemon, is a sign of cleansing acids and vitamins. We like food with fats and oils because they supply calories and essential fatty acids. Natural oils and fats are high in calories and fat-soluble vitamins. Healthy food has a wholesome taste, a pleasure intended to reinforce healthy behavior.
KEY: Compulsive addictive obsessive overeaters binge to find peace. By running from fear it controls them.
A Security Blanket
Food can be used to medicate our feelings. Its pleasure gives a predictable lift. When we feel cranky, tired or lonely, food offers comfort. A comfort on which we can depend. A comfort that brings peace in an emotional storm. However, the reliance on food or any substance to feel better forms dependence.
The pleasure offered by mood-altering drugs and food can easily become a security blanket, insulating us from a harsh world. An emotional crutch that makes us weaker by leaning on it. Each time we use it natural emotional responses deteriorate, and the addict becomes emotionally dependent on the pleasure to control mood.
When we are dependent on a chemical or food to feel good, our self-worth is eroded. We no longer are in control. We are dependent. An addict never feels good about needing a drug. There is a feeling of being powerless that destroys self-esteem.
Every time we are tired, upset or frustrated and use food to feel good, that behavior is being etched deeply into our neuropathways. Whether that be eating potato chips, gambling, sexual perversion, horror movies or healthy activities like exercise or playing an instrument, the pleasure is creating triggers to repeat that behavior. Every time you enjoy a food that is unhealthy, use a mood-altering drug, engage in a perverse fantasy or enjoy being lazy you are creating triggers. Triggers that will activate emotions, becoming powerful urges to repeat that behavior.
After a lifetime’s worth of indulgent triggers and twisted behaviors, we are out of control. Tidal waves crash upon the shore of our soul. There is no peace. The storm is relentless and the pain is endless. Hope is darkened. Only a glimmer remains. But it is enough to see.
Place a huge CAUTION sign over your pleasures. Choose your pleasures with great care. The pleasure of dopamine can move us forward towards a healthy, fulfilling life or endless indulgence. Through discipline, we can receive dopamine’s pleasure from healthy activities and actions. We can feel good about doing the right thing while enjoying the benefits of a clear conscience and a healthy body.
Through discipline, you can control your neurotransmitters. Imagine being able to create nice, warm feelings … a neurotransmitter high without harsh drugs or side effects. Just warm dopamine fuzzy feelings. Bet you’d be one happy person. In a few chapters you are about to discover how. We call it the Dopamine Diet Plan.
When emotional and physical cravings rise up like a tag team punching from both sides you can hit back with a few uppercuts. No more beatings from Mr. Big. Be the aggressor. Fight back. Chase those cravings away with a scowl. Flex some muscles. Show no mercy. Take no prisoners. This is war!!
Addiction is profitable. It sells. Cravings are good for business.