Lets talk seriously about food addictions for a minute. Do they exist? The latest research presented at the Seattle Summit on Obesity and Food Addiction says they do. There is even a scale to measure it called the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Certain foods – not kale – are more addictive than others. According to an online article published by Authority Nutrition, the number one addictive food is pizza! On the flip side, nuts and cucumbers – not so much. Foods that are processed or high in sugar and fat are labelled “hyperpalatable” which means in a taste test, they are going to win hands down when compared to healthier choices like vegetables.
How do you know if you have a tendency toward food addiction? The Food Addicts Anonymous website (http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/) is a good resource. Here are some signs that you can watch out for: Eating in private, snatching other people’s food, emotional eating, over-exercising, obsessive thoughts about eating or obtaining food, multiple failed diets, and eating beyond what feels comfortable physically. Even thoughts or behaviors like “not wanting to accept outside help” or thinking “others need to change for life to be better” might be a sign that you are living to eat instead of eating to live.
How do you combat a food addiction? The answer can be complex. But some simple tips include: eating whole foods like avocado, almonds, strawberries or kale. These foods can be satisfying and are complete without elaborate preparation. Be patient. Give yourself some time to address food addictions and take baby steps toward healthier eating. It will not happen overnight. Cut out caffeine because it can lead to cravings for sweets according to the Food Addiction Research Organization. Instead, drink enough water which is a quarter to a half of your body weight in ounces per day. Or try herbal teas or hot water with lemon. If you are a practicing perfectionist, let go of achieving the unattainable because we all stumble on the way to our health goals. For more information on food addiction, there are many good books like, “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating” by Geneen Roth, or you can self-assess by checking out the document provided by the Yale Food Addiction Scale entitled YFAS at: http://www.midss.org/content/yale-food-addiction-scale-yfas (located under files at the bottom of the page). And although eating kale is a good choice, being addicted to any particular food or habit can be detrimental to your health.