“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” Carl Jung
I am a food addict.
More specifically, I am addicted to sugar or any refined carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, it took me too many years to break free of this addiction. Now I have blood sugar problems and have to carefully manage my intake of carbohydrates.
The good news? As long as I stay away from my drug of choice, I can lead a happy, healthy life, free from the control of food. I do, and so can you.
How can we be addicted to food?
It happens in the same way that an alcoholic can be addicted to alcohol but needs fluids to survive. By drinking water (or some other nonalcoholic beverage), instead of alcohol, the alcoholic stays sober. In my case, I eat real foods that will keep my blood sugars stable and keep me healthy. Things like bread, pasta, cookies, and ice cream all send my life spiraling out of control.
So how does food addiction happen?
There are two answers. First, there is a physical response to refined carbohydrates that is beyond your control. That’s right. You CAN’T control it. The only way to control it is complete abstinence, at least in the beginning as you try to break the cycle of addiction.
Second, there is a psychological addiction, which involves emotional eating.
Let’s explore the physical reasons first. According to Zoë Harcombe’s book, Why do you overeat? When all you want to be is slim, your intense cravings can be linked to three things: 1) Candida, 2) Food Intolerance, 3) Hypoglycemia.
You have a health problem. To solve it, you don’t stop eating, but you do stop eating the foods that contribute to the conditions that cause your cravings.
How do I know if I have an addiction?
If you are wondering if you even have an addiction, you can use Dr. Zoë Harcombe’s defining factors of addiction to decide for yourself. Zoë, is an independent author, researcher, and speaker in the field of diet, health, and nutrition. She states the following four characteristics when defining addiction to any substance:
- An uncontrollable craving.
- Increasing tolerance so that more of the addictive substance is needed to produce the same effects.
- Physical or psychological dependence – consumption of the substance produces a feeling of wellbeing when you first consume it. However, later on, the substance is then needed to avoid unpleasant withdrawal feelings. Has this ever happened to you with chocolate? In the beginning you use it to feel better, but later you find that you need the chocolate to stop feeling bad?
- Side effects such as headaches and fatigue, or any other undesirable result.
How bad is overconsumption of sugar?
You may say to yourself, “Okay, I know I have a problem with sugar, but it can’t be that bad.”
Did you know that the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates contributes to or is directly responsible for most of our chronic illnesses?
According to Jason Fung, Canadian nephrologist and author of The Diabetes Code, the excess of refined carbohydrates in our diet is linked to skin conditions, fatty liver disease, infections, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, visual problems, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, heart attack, strokes… Well, you get the idea.
Jason Fung helps many people who have had complications from Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is a terrible disease that is caused by excessive refined carbohydrate consumption, and the complications are many. It can affect every cell in your body. The good news is that you can reverse it with diet and lifestyle. He states two steps to doing this.
Step 1: Put less sugar in (eat less sugar and refined carbohydrates).
Step 2: Burn off remaining sugars (move your body and allow more time between eating).
Bingo, problem solved.
It sounds easy. But why do these steps seem so overwhelming? Part of the answer may lie in the characteristics of addiction stated above. However, remember that not only do you have the physical reasons to deal with, but the psychological ones as well.
Think of a time when your day seems to be running smoothly, and then, out of nowhere, you are triggered by something that makes you angry or sad. The next thing you know, you’re stuffing your face with doughnuts sitting in the break room at work that you easily avoided earlier in the day. That trigger changed your “willpower” into nothing more than a distant memory. And the cycle continues…
In conclusion, I want you to remember the following: You are not a failure. None of this is your fault. There are reasons behind the behavior.
But there is HOPE. I am living proof of that. You do not have to live like this forever. There are resources out there. Educate yourself, and if you still need support, reach out. Grab a lifeline to help you navigate these murky waters. I hope to hear from you.
Dr. Cywes the #CarbAddictionDoc (link below)
Dr. Jason Fung (link below)
Dr. Lucy Burns – Carb Addiction is not your fault (link below)