How To Overcome Food Addiction — Tips, Ideas, and Expert Advice
It is widely known in the scientific community that certain foods have a very addictive effect on the brain. You find yourself sitting and wondering how to overcome your food addiction and blaming yourself, when in fact it’s not entirely your fault.
Certain types of food addictions operate similarly to drug addictions on the brain.
This is why despite not wanting to, people may end up repeatedly finding themselves eating a lot of unhealthy foods — even though they know that it can do them more harm than good. This explains why some people can’t control themselves around certain foods — no matter how hard they try.
This article provides easy to follow tips and advice on how to overcome food addiction and takes a deeper look into what it is.
How Does Food Addiction Work?
Scientists say that certain sugary snacks have a similar effect to hard drugs, making them addictive foods. Here’s why some people are more prone to craving junk than others – and how to overcome addictive foods for healthier habits.
Don’t plunge deeper into self-loathing as you grab your fifth custard cream – your biscuit blowout might not actually be your fault. The treats that sabotage our weight loss attempts could be physically addictive. What’s more, food scientists working for fast food chains may deliberately create meals that are literally irresistible.
A study at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, USA, found lab rats became addicted to a bad diet, in the way that people become dependent on cocaine and heroin, and now studies are finding similar effects on humans with addictive foods.
“Scientists have found that fatty, sugary foods make the brain release dopamine just like drugs,” says diet expert and psychotherapist Marisa Peer, author of You Can Be Thin. “The dopamine gives you a slight high, but the dopamine receptors become less sensitive, so you need more and more to get the same feeling. So, although your body doesn’t want junk like doughnuts, it starts to demand it.”
It seems some of us find it harder than others to resist these cravings. “In our diabetes study, we found people with a particular gene have lower dopamine receptors than normal so that the brain doesn’t register the effects of dopamine as much as it should,” says clinical researcher Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Breaking The Food Seduction (St Martin’s Griffin). “
So they need to eat more to feel pleasure and are more likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes.”
What Is The Most Effective Way To Overcome Food Addiction
There are many things you can do to tackle an unhealthy food addiction. But before you do that, let’s first put things into categories to know where to start.
All approaches on how to overcome food addiction can be categorized into two groups:
- Practical (working with your conscious mind)
Building the right habits is all about noticing that you need to take care of some of your basic and surface behaviors that may be sacrificing your everyday health.
You’ll need to take into consideration to start developing the following habits:
- You can control what you eat: Do whatever you need to do to avoid backsliding.
- Controle your environment: If you know you can crave junk then you’ll need to clean your body and home from junk food. One method would be to rid yourself and your home from junk food for 90 days.
Remember: Any habit or a diet that relies on willpower never lasts
- Adopting a mindful approach to eating: Next time you go eating a burger from a fast-food restaurant, try this:
- Pay close attention to how it feels, taste, and how you are feeling in that moment. Try to savor the moment as they say.
- After you swallow each bite, again take a moment and pay close attention to how you feel.
- Keep repeating that process throughout your meal until you go home for at least another hour.
By the time you go, you’ll notice that the fatty, sugary salt bomb of a burger you had is beginning to make you feel bad.
Just keep up this mindful process you’ll see for yourself how you can overcome your food addiction. Over time your mind will start craving this junk less and less simply because you paid attention.
Remember: Observation alone can be curative.
- Inner (working with the subconscious)
If practical approaches to overcome food addition don’t seem to really stick in the long term. Looking into your subconscious will allow you to dig deeper beyond the surface and into your suppressed emotions and memories.
You may have an underlying problem that you are not aware of. Then getting to the bottom of why you are harming your body should be a priority. Some of these methods include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This enables you to become more self-aware of negative patterns of behavior and thinking.
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): This approach focuses on behavioral strategies like thoughts, language, and patterns of behavior learned through experience to achieve specific outcomes. You learn how to apply them to your life in order to reach personal goals and break bad habits.
- Tapping: This a combination of ancient Chinese techniques and Modern-day Psychology. It works to physically alter your brain, your body’s energy system at the same time enabling you to dig deep into traumatic experiences you may have that led to your food addiction problem.
- Hypnotherapy: Also referred to as “guided hypnosis”, It is a form of psychotherapy that takes place while you are relaxed, in a heightened concentration and intense attention to achieve a heightened state of consciousness or mindfulness. In other words, it places the individual into a “trance” or altered state of awareness.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This enables you to become more self-aware of negative patterns of behavior and thinking.
Reprograming Your Mind To Curb Overeating
Many people who overeat do so because they don’t feel enough; they don’t feel good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or successful enough and they feel empty inside.
They try to curb that feeling by eating more so that they can feel full but it never lasts long. So how do you curb overeating?
- If you overeat, before every meal start by saying to yourself: “I am enough and I have enough I don’t need more.”
- Your stomach is the size of your fist and doesn’t need much food to feel satisfied, as long as you eat slowly and chew properly rather than bolting your food. Eating slowly allows your body to take more nutrients from the food as we have a lot of digestive enzymes in saliva.
So slow your eating down. At every meal put your knife and fork down and take twice as long to eat as usual so that your stomach can register you have eaten and you can stop before you get bloated.
Squeeze your hand into a fist just before and during eating and keep telling yourself “My stomach is the size of my fist and I feel full and satisfied halfway through eating.”
- Drink more water as dehydration is often interpreted as hunger when it’s not hunger but thirst. Hot drinks like tea and bouillon have a very comforting effect on the body when you feel stressed, which helps curb overeating.
All these tips that we mentioned can really help you to overcome pretty much any food addiction. But most definitely, if you noticed that all these tips have to do with your behaviors and habits, which all begins in the mind.
One of the most effective ways to reprogram your mind quickly and efficiently is through hypnotic sessions for weight control or taking control of food addiction.
Learn more about reprogramming your mind with Marissa Peers’s hypnotic weight control and see for yourself all the things you can do to reprogram your mind and take control of any bad habits.
Practical Tips And Advice On How To Overcome Food Addiction
Sometimes overcoming a food addiction all starts with your intention. If you want to get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to take certain habits and actions to rid yourself of this physical addiction.
Being mindful of your diet
You would be surprised to learn that in order to know how to overcome food addiction, practicing mindful eating is key. You have to be aware of what is good and what is not when you put food into your body.
When you follow a diet that is low in carbs and free of wheat, you can sometimes find yourself craving carbs. You must make sure your diet is full of high-quality fats and proteins (like those found in meats, nuts, eggs, and omega-rich oils), fruits and vegetables. This is important in making sure you keep yourself satisfied.
Ancient grains are a good choice as rice and pasta substitutes and are becoming increasingly easy to find in supermarkets.
If you’re wondering why ancient grains are better than wheat, go to your grocery store. One of the problems with wheat is its prevalence in our diet. Once you stop eating wheat or gluten (the latter of which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) you immediately notice that nearly half the grocery store is off-limits.
Highly refined, nutritionally bankrupt flour is in nearly 60% of the foods we eat in a standard diet and for many people, wheat-based foods make up 80% of their food intake.
If you see wheat growing in a field, you notice that it is not in a form that is anywhere close to being edible. It requires machines, factories, and chemicals to process and refine it in order to get rid of the poisonous outer husk and turn it into the flour which makes a loaf of bread (a process which strips it from its nutritional value).
Ancient grains, on the other hand, are nearly identical to the grains harvested in the days of early agriculture and thus don’t require massive factories and machines to make them edible.
In addition to being less refined, ancient grains are more fiber-rich, thereby making them slower to digest and causing your insulin to spike less (if a certain food makes your insulin spike quickly, it is also an indication that it can cause weight gain and fat-storing in the body).
Here are four ancient grains you can start integrating into your diet as a pasta substitute, couscous (which comes from wheat), cereals, and rice:
I’ve long been advocating quinoa. Since it’s a seed, it’s technically not even considered a carb, but it’s a perfect stand-in for rice and pasta. It also cooks quickly and can be found in all grocery stores now.
his is gluten-free and a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also rich in magnesium, iron and potassium, and makes for a wonderful breakfast porridge with almond milk, cinnamon and berries and is excellent in place of rice in risottos or curries or in place of pasta.
This grain is from the Mediterranean and is chewy and nutty in texture/taste. It’s also high in iron. Because of its hearty texture, it’s cook to use in stews and casseroles as it can withstand high cooking temperatures (note: avoid “pearled” varieties as they are more processed)
The fact that this is used for bird food in the US is a good sign that it’s a whole, nutritious food. It doesn’t have to taste like bird food though. It has a subdued flavor and fast cooking time which means you can easily add it to salads and stir-fries in place of rice.
How to overcome food addiction: Is all about knowing what foods to avoid
Whether it’s emotional health, relationship problems, or weight loss, I am always a fan of simple, nearly effortless solutions that give produce big results. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to making improvements in your diet.
You don’t have to go on a full-on deprivation diet to lose weight. You can make simple, and healthy swaps that will have a huge difference. Diet swaps can help you lose weight.
When you eat starchy carbs you go into fat storing mode, and when you eat protein you go into fat burning. So the simple trick for effective and permanent weight loss is to swap starchy carbs for a protein whenever you can.
Healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods:
- If you crave salty crisps, salty crackers, and processed pretzels, remind yourself these things are not real food and full of carbs and calories you don’t need.
When you’re in the mood for something salty to nibble on, switch to olives, nuts, home-made popcorn with a little light soya sauce, or edamame. If you have time at home, bake your own kale crisps
- Lots of people crave something sweet in the afternoon. Instead of reaching for a biscuit, slice a sweet green or pink lady apple and spread natural peanut butter or almond butter on it.
This is a protein and fiber-filled snack full of really healthy oils that will fill you up better than chocolate or biscuits.
- If you love pasta and rice so much and just can’t seem to rid your meals of carbs, you can find pasta made of quinoa instead of flour.
Equally, you can julienne courgettes to use to replace pasta, then can add chicken, prawns or other meat and sauce.
- Cauliflower Rice Alternative? Yes, you read that right.
Take a head of cauliflower, cut into chunks and discard the core, as it’s too bitter. Add the florets to a food processor and use the grating blade to grate until the whole cauliflower has been used.
Alternatively, you can use a cheese grater. The cauliflower crumbles really fast, so give it a blast of a few seconds and then check it and repeat until it’s crumbled. Once you have your mound of ‘rice’ you can add it to salads raw or use with curries, sauces or as a substitute for any dish, you would have had with rice. You can also cook it in a wok for no more than a minute with a little oil, to make dishes such as Spanish rice, savory rice, risotto or kedgeree (my favorite).
- Looking for an alternative to potatoes? If it’s mashed or baked potatoes you crave, or the topping of a shepherd’s pie, swap starchy white potatoes with mashed cauliflower, swede, or sweet potatoes. Additionally, you can try roast Jerusalem artichokes taste almost like roast potatoes.
Breakfast go to’s to consider
- Fruit with almonds
- Soya yogurt with seeds, nuts and fruit,
- Fruit and vegetable smoothie
- Scrambled eggs with coriander
- Occasional oats with nuts or seeds made with non-dairy milk or water.
- Any kind of fish.
Lunch and Dinner ideas
For lunch you can have protein, salad and vegetables or soup. For dinner you can have protein, salad and vegetables. You can eat potatoes, rice, and bread, but aim to not eat them daily and best not after lunch. Quinoa is a much better choice than rice or potatoes to eat with meat or fish or put in soups and salads as it’s a seed and a very healthy food that gives you a lot of energy. You can add sweet potatoes (as they are actually yams, not potatoes) to lunch and dinner.
Go to snacks
Eat a banana daily as a snack and you can snack on seeds, nuts, edamame, and drink smoothies and rice milk lattes. Your staple snack could be unsalted almonds – they are so good for us and so portable. In the winter you can make a lot more soups and in the summer snack much more on berries when they’re in season and therefore cheaper.
All these swaps are delicious, so much more healthy, have a much lower glycemic load and tons more vitamins and fiber.