Betcha Can't Eat Just One?
Have you ever experienced strong cravings to sugar, wheat or dairy? Ever struggled with the cycle of emotional eating, binge eating, preoccupation or fixation on food? I want you to truly hear me when I say, you are not alone and most importantly, that this is NOT all in your head or as simple as sheer "will" power. It is truly my passion to expose the facts around the foods that we are promoted, marketed and pushed towards consuming and the realities in how they are impacting us physiologically and psychologically. No.. it is not as simple as "just chew a piece of gum and walk around the block!" How feasible is that when our bodies and minds are screaming to be nourished? Unfortunately, we tend not to crave celery and broccoli in those moments, but there is science behind why that is and understanding this is truly where empowerment lies.
Now this post is not intended to freak you out about food. Quite the contrary. I am a total foodie and am the first to preach that we need to reconnect to food! In fact so many of us disassociate from our relationship with food due to convenience foods, our fast paced lifestyles and as a result of our "beauty" and image driven society. Indeed, a lot of shame has sifted into even the very act of eating in general, which impacts so many of us not only in relation to our feelings of self worth, but metabolically as well.
Well today I am eager for you to read and continue to educate yourself on the reality of food cravings and really, food addiction. I call it addiction because so many of the food and products being sold in our supermarkets today contain highly addictive substances that trigger an opiate like response in the pleasure centres of our brain, to which triggers a vicious cycle of cravings. Indeed, a whole array of research has now been investigating the realities of our food industry. One significant thought leader who I highly recommend you read up on is Michael Moss who exposed in his investigatory novel "Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked us", the extensive research and labour that actually goes into producing foods that create consumer demand. As Moss discusses, exact formulations of foods that are addictive such as junk foods and beverages, are not accidental, but methodically calculated and perfected by scientists, specifically hired by big corporate food companies, to establish what he calls the "bliss point", or the exact amount of sugar, fat and salt to which will guarantee to have consumers hooked. Ever eaten a "cheesie"? It's got that perfect cheese, salt, sweet, the perfect crunch and melt in your mouth like butter effect...that is science. Oh ya and the whole "betcha can't eat just one?" chip campaign?... yup science. They know you can't!
Following Michael Moss is an array of recent studies of the brain through MRI imaging that have demonstrated how the same areas in the brain light up when consuming high sugar "junk foods", as does those who were administered an opiate. In fact, exposure to especially palatable foods, such as cake and ice cream, has shown to activate several brain regions including the anterior insula and right orbitofrontal cortex which underlies the motivation to continue to eat despite feeling full.
As I mentioned in the previous post, sugar is the main culprit in terms of its affect on the brain and yet surfacing research has now shown how the breakdown of both wheat and dairy interestingly have similar effects on the brain as well. Indeed, several studies have shown that protein components of wheat and dairy (gluten and casein), when not fully or properly digested, breakdown into gluten exorphins and casmorphins peptides. These proteins and their molecular structures are closely related to the well known opiod, morphine, and exhibit many of its addictive properties. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, gluteomorphins and casomorphins cross the blood-brain barrier causing an opiate response in the brain that researchers say is similar to that of heroin or cocaine, based off of the behavioural responses that are associated. Most interestingly for me, is how several recent studies have detected large quantities of gluteo-morphins and casomorphins in the urine of those specifically suffering from schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, post-partum psychosis, epilepsy, depression, and some autoimmune problems, like rheumatoid arthritis. There is a reason why so many children who are autistic are being put on a gluten and casein free diet. Remove the casein and gluten and so many children with autism have had a reduction in what once were debilitating symptoms, some of whom have regained significant levels of functioning and speech.
The bottom line is educate yourself. Be a smart, conscious consumer. Spread the word and help to shift public recognition of the importance of sound nutrition on our bodies and mind. So many suffer with lack of access to healthy nutritious whole foods. So many financially just cannot afford organic produce and simply have to resort to cheep takeout or food banks to support their families. This is not a solution to our Nation's lack of policy on Food Security. In fact, it is total backwards thinking. Support your local community gardens, farmers and think consciously when you donate to food banks. Swap Kraft Dinner donations with dried beans, fresh produce, gift cards to grocery stores, etc. and most importantly, speak out about what you learn to help spread awareness and shift public recognition.
1. David H Epstein and Yavin Shaham, 2010. Cheescake-eating rats and the question of food addiction.
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7. Micheal Moss - Salt, Sugar, Fat Politics - How the Food Giants Hooked us
8. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD - Gut and Psychology Syndrome
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