Food addiction is definitely real. I think it is much more challenging to deal with than drug addiction because at least one makes a choice to take a drug to satisfy the addiction. Food labeling practices today make it challenging to try to eliminate foods that we may experience adverse affects from. Sugar is a big food addiction as Joan states – but just as big of a problem and equally responsible for obesity, chronic diseases and brain disorders is MSG and the precursors that convert to MSG (glutamic acid). It’s hidden, ubiquitous and I guarantee we all are addicted to one degree or another to that little molecule. It excites our neurons and tells our brains that whatever food we are eating that contains MSG is yummy.
Food addictions have a neurochemical, thus physiological, basis, making them absolutely real. Those who claim they are something else tend to be unaware of the neurochemistry/physiology of addiction and/or the neurochemical effects of foods.
Genetic predisposing factors may be involved, including family history of alcoholism, diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypertension, and more. There are non-genetic predisposing factors, as well, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress disorder (which alters neurochemistry) and body type. It does no one a service to encourage them to regard an addictive response to specific foods (sugar or saturated fats, for example) as if it were not an addiction when the brain response is often as genetic as eye color. We each got what we got. The good news is that changes in diet can alter neurochemical levels and result in beneficial modifications in cravings, appetite, mood and food preferences.
My dissertation was on Psychoactive Nutrition in the Treatment of Women with Binge-Eating Disorder (1999). Controlling sugar intake was found to have a profound effect on bingeing and craving. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Joan S. Kent
Ph.D., Psychoactive Nutrition
M.S., Exercise Physiology
I have been in this business for seven years and have studied this subject extensively.
I have come to the conclusion that most addictoins are manifested by one’s past trauma and experienceds in life. Most people with eating disorders are seeking inner peace. They are trying to fill a void within. It is not that they are lazy, or don’t care. IF they did not care, they would not be seeking help.
Eating disorders are very complicated, and not resolved by most standard approaches such as diets and exercise. This may help, but if there is truely a eating disorder that is in place, the client needs professional help..couselling, which is not in the scope of personal trainers.
I have worked with many clients who have had eating disorders and I found my successes were with those who were exercising, eating healthy balanced meals (no diets) and getting counseling.
I have had gastric by pass clients who gained all their weight back even when they were following my program, because they refused to go to their schedule counseling sessions.
Stress is the number one factor for triggering addictions, as well as low self esteem.
Consider how much stress your client is under. Maybe a divorce, or highly stressful job, or even you are working with someone who is a perfectionists and puts too much stress on themselves. Suggest ways to reduce stress such as medition, yoga, or mind body biofeed back sessions with a professional.
Be aware that obesity is a disease not to be taken lightly.
But also be aware that IF someone does not lose weight under your guidance, you have done everything you can do help them. You are not a failure, and neither are they. They just may need professional help.
I think they are addicted to what food gives them, PLEASURE or comfort or any other feeling is what they are after.
A lot of times I have noticed that people that overeat have very good excentuated taste buds which makes it even harder to eat right. Usually they can describe how the food tastes and what is in it far better than some.