Monday, October 4, 2010

How Diabetics Can Fight Food Addiction

There is probably no better way to enhance fast weight loss than to stop food addiction, and the basic principle is very simple: Just say no sugar, fat, and salt, especially combinations of sugar, fat, and salt. Just say maybe to wheat, meat, and milk products.

Dr. David Kessler, a medical school dean who was also head of the US FDA, has been researching the issues of food addiction since he himself had problems sticking to a low-calorie weight loss diet. What Dr. Kessler has discovered is that the "mouth feel" of foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt is in itself addictive.

When you get the feeling of sugar, fat, and salt in your mouth, your brain releases dopamine. There's a good reason for that. For most of human history, sugar, fat, and salt were in short supply. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical, and feeling good makes it easier to remember everything about where you eat foods that contain sugar, fat, and salt.

If you get your sugary, fatty, salty yummies at a restaurant next to two golden arches, then you'll start feeling good when you see golden arches. You also will feel hungry when you see golden arches.

If your nana took you to that restaurant when you were good to give you a treat, then when you eat hamburgers you will think of Grandma. If you see a cheeseburger wrapper, you will think of Grandma and feel good.

The same thing happens at other places you eat foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt. They are physically addicting, and your brain wires itself to look for them anywhere it can. That doesn't mean, of course, that you'd only love your grandmother because she took you to McDonald's. However, you might love cheeseburgers because she took you there. Becoming aware of the overlays of experience around the foods that make you gain weight helps you separate food from future happy experiences.

However, there are special reasons to be careful about any foods that contain beef (actually, products that contain beef blood), wheat, or cow's milk. These three categories of food are all high in chemicals known as mu-opioids.

As their name suggests, mu-opioids have the same effect on the brain as opium. They numb the brain to physical and emotional pain. The intense concentration of mu-opioids is the reason you can literally enter a state of bliss when you eat a cheeseburger. And if you add bacon and a side of fries, then you get the double whammy of beef, wheat, and dairy along with sugar, fat, and salt. Sugar, by the way, the second ingredient in the bun--and "whole wheat" buns typically contain more sugar than white.

It's very important to replace the habits that take you to places where you eat the "wrong" foods with habits that take you to places where you eat the "right" foods. It's still a great idea to have a happy meal--just make the meal happy because of the setting, your company, or the fine cooking, not because it was advertised by Ronald the Clown.

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