Willpower is not the key to dieting success if you have a food addiction. Joy Martina explains how to tell if this is the case and how you can overcome it.
Our waistlines are continuously expanding and over half of the U.S. population is labeled obese. At the same time, the diet industry is cranking out one miracle diet and magical pill after the other and earning billions off the overweight and frustrated.
We are lead to believe that all we need to do to stay slim is exert willpower and “just say no” to certain foods in order to lose weight. So why is it then, that although we theoretically know what to eat (and what to avoid), we find it downright impossible to stick to it?
The truth is, we are being tricked by our brains and manipulated by the food industry. In fact, most of us do not lack willpower, nor do we need to see ourselves as failures just because we cannot stick to the latest diet regime. All we need to realize is that we are suffering from severe food addiction.
This is one of the most overlooked underlying reasons why people are getting fatter and fatter; it’s one of the main reasons people are unable to control themselves around certain foods, no matter how hard they try. Yet once we understand:
- What food addictions are
- How food addictions tamper with the chemistry of our brain
- How to crush food addictions
Then we can:
- Achieve real lifestyle changes effortlessly
- Finally shed the extra pounds for good
Are you a Food Addict?
Food addiction manifests itself in the uncontrollable urge for certain foods like industrially processed (junk food) and high sugar, high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, doughnuts, and chips. To see if you have a food addiction check how often you show the following signs when it comes to the food you tend to crave.
The 9 Signs of Food Addiction
First of all, think of the food (or foods) you crave most often and then consider these nine statements.
- You crave it, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal.
- When you eat it, you eat much more than you intended to.
- You sometimes eat so much of it that you feel “stuffed”.
- You often feel guilty after eating it, but you still eat it.
- You find excuses for why you should eat it.
- You have repeatedly tried to quit eating it or setting rules (like having cheat days), but been unsuccessful.
- You secretly eat it because you feel ashamed about eating it in front of others.
- You feel unable to control your consumption of it; despite knowing the consequences it is causing you (health issues, emotional impact, and weight gain).
- You rationalize your intake of it and convince yourself that it’s ok to eat it.
If you can relate to 4-5 of these, chances are high that you are a food addict.
The Good News is You Are Not Alone
In his book The End of Overeating, David Kessler, a professor at UCSF and former commissioner of the FDA, estimates there are more than 70 million food-addicted adults in the United States.
Despite their best intentions, food addicts repeatedly find themselves eating large amounts of unhealthy foods, even though they know this is causing them harm. Many of the symptoms of food addiction are identical to those of a drug addiction; they involve the same areas in the brain, the same neurotransmitters and override normal willpower in exactly the same way. Telling a food addict to “just say no” to junk food is as effective as telling a cocaine addict to stay clear of cocaine.
Processed junk foods, for example, have a powerful effect on the “reward” center in the brain, which secretes the pleasure chemical dopamine. These foods cause intense dopamine signal “hijacking” of the biochemistry of the brain. This means that the brain produces a flood of dopamine as a reaction to these foods thus preventing the prefrontal cortex, the CEO of our brain, from functioning properly. As a result, the prefrontal cortex is no longer able to help us rein in impulses (i.e. food cravings) or stay focused and vigilant about what we eat. That’s why, when someone is in full-on addictive mode, moderation is no longer an option. They can devour enormous amounts of foods like ice cream, cookies and chips and in a short period of time.
Because of this, food made in a plant (factory) rather than from a plant is biologically addictive. These foods are also called “hyperpalatables” and when we consume them too often, natural foods (such as apples and broccoli) lose their appeal. Our brain becomes desensitized to this constant hyperstimulation and we end up needing more and more hyperpalatable foods to get the same fix.
And to compare: How many people binge on a pile of broccoli or apples?
Our past conditioning rules today’s behavior
Attempting to tackle addiction with willpower is like declaring war on yourself. As much as we might consciously desire to lose weight, stay away from our craving foods and make healthy choices: if our subconscious mind is not aligned with our goals, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Think of all the things you were told about food as a child:
- Did you have to eat your plate clean or children would die in Africa?
- Did you get sweets to reward you for good work or comfort you when you were upset?
- Do you connect certain food brands with fond childhood memories?
Like it or not, these past conditionings are still active within you. They act like a computer program silently running in the background, prompting you to behave the way you do. This mechanism is not always the best advisor as our behavior around food often proves; some rules you have learned are still useful (eat your greens!), others are not (“an ice-cream will take away your boo-boo”).
The 3 D’s
The subconscious mind is a bit like a child’s mind. It acts in an emotional way and whenever it associates something with one of the 3 D’s, the triggers for addictive behavior:
it can go into a full-blown tantrum and sabotage our best intentions to lose weight. So in order to be successful in weight loss, we need to stop fighting ourselves. We need to get the subconscious mind to team up with us and support our weight loss goals. The good news is that this is quite easy to accomplish!
Breaking the addiction cycle
There is a simple 3-step process to breaking the cycle of addiction:
Step 1: Notice when you have a craving attack
Does it happen more in certain situations? Around certain people?
Step 2: Notice how you feel when you have a craving attack
Are you bored, lonely, stressed, upset?
Step 3: Consciously respond to your craving in a powerful way
We recommend the following 2 methods for curbing your cravings and reducing emotional hunger. They are the fastest and most effective techniques we know.
- Stress Point Hunger
Every time you feel a craving, you can respond by tapping between your nose and your upper lip (what we call your Stress Point Hunger).
For a short demo on how to do this, you can click here.
- Emotional Balance Havening Technique
This is complicated to describe so click here for a short demo.
Let’s sum up the most important points
- Weight gain is often linked to food addictions
- Cravings are a sign of a food addiction
- Food addictions are:
- Caused by a chemical reaction in your brain
- Not solved by willpower
- Often due to past conditioning and programming buried deep in your subconscious mind
- You can train your brain to eliminate food addictions, make healthy choices and lose weight
- You do not need willpower to lose weight and keep it off
If you want to know more about how you can beat your food addiction please go to our website Sleep Your Fat Away where you can leave us your name and email address and get instant access to our 20-minute webinar that includes the 2 techniques we have described above.
If you’d like to learn more about training your brain to lose weight, subscribe to our blog! We’d also love to hear about your experiences with food addiction. Please leave a comment in the comments box. Thank you!
Roy and Joy Martin