Sung to the tune of Tom T. Hall’s “I Like Beer”.

Have you ever wondered if you are a food addict? Does food seem every bit as addictive as alcohol? Do you want to know why? And do you want to know what you can do about it?

Are You a Food Addict?

First, let’s see if you meet the stringent criteria used to determine if you are truly a food addict. You may not be able to find these criteria in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual!

  1. Do you get weak-kneed and misty eyed, with a silly grin on your face every time someone mentions pizza? Then you just might be finding your way as a food addict.
  2. While eating a delicious piece of pizza, do you worry that one of your children might grab that next big piece of pizza? Then likely you are well on your way to being a food addict.
  3. Do you find yourself looking through your garbage can for the remaining pizza that someone threw away yesterday? Then you definitely are on track as a serious food addict.
  4. Does your spouse question you about daily charges on your credit card from Pizza Hut? Do you then rave about their great salad bar? Then you just might be showing the social signs of a food addict.
  5. Are you well beyond initial signs and symptoms of “Dunlap’s Disease” (Where your belly has dun’ lapped over your belt)? And, do you finish an entire pizza still using your mother’s encourager (When you were young and skinny), “You know, there are children starving in China”. Then you just might meet the physical criteria as a food addict.
  6. After making yourself sick by stuffing yourself with more pizza than seems humanly possible, do you think fondly of old Roman times when they would throw up, so they could eat even more? Then you just might meet criteria as a dual diagnosis, food addict!
  7. When your Bible study teacher asks you what you are most thankful for, is the only thing that comes to mind is the cold pizza you left out in the car? Then you definitely meet the full criteria of a food addict.

The Challenge of Making Lifestyle Changes

Let’s stop for a moment to consider some of the physical reasons that changing to a healthier lifestyle can be so difficult. Many of the references for this article can be found in my podcasts with Dr. Steven Masley (Healthy Meals and a Rejuvenating Lifestyle and Boost Brain Function with a Healthier Diet) and in his new book, The Better Brain Solution. There has been an explosion of information around the effects that blood sugar and insulin have on your executive mental functions. These are the mental functions that allow you to make good business and relationship decisions.

Although your blood sugar levels remain important, insulin levels are giving us startling clues to a more insidiously toxic problem. What more, the damaging effects caused by your body’s decreasing response to insulin usually starts ten years prior to any changes in your blood sugar

As your weight, abdominal girth, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory factors and life stress increase, your body resists the beneficial effects of insulin. Insulin is responsible for transferring fuel (blood sugar) into each cell of your body. The nerves cells that make up your brain and then spread throughout your body are very sensitive to this and literally begin to starve. This is particularly true in the very active executive centers of your brain. This is the part that learns to love God and others. This provides insight into the mental dullness and lack of motivation that accompanies this lifestyle. This evidence of neurotoxicity now extends to later life issues as it causes up to 40% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease today!

Allowing insulin resistance to progress also contributes to many of the other problems common to those with Diabetes. Nerves throughout the body degrade and die. Damage to nerves in the retina can lead to blindness. Damage to sense nerves in the skin can lead to terrible numbness, tingling and burning pain that usually starts in your feet and hands. Nerves in your stomach stop functioning and food remains stuck in your stomach causing nausea and bloating. Nerve damage between your brain and your heart lead to light-headedness when you stand up. Damage to your microvasculature (very small blood vessels) and arterial plaque growth can result in strokes, unusual muscular pain and poor healing throughout your body.

You now know why you should make change your lifestyle, but this doesn’t change the fact that even thinking about such changes is a struggle! The reason this is so hard is that a food addiction slows the function of your entire body. The includes all executive functions of your brain including working memory and processing speed. This numbing effect of food (misty eyes and weak-kneed, silly grin) has a purpose as, like any addiction, it counters the stress and anxiety in your life. This grows over time as without necessary changes, your addiction grows. You will increasingly notice a pattern as you cycle through anxiety, anger, self-soothing and judgmentalness.

Motivation to Kick Food Addiction

Here are a few critical suggestions that will get you “over the hump” and on your way to an exciting life:

You are being drugged!

Living this way is toxic to your brain and the rest of your body. Thankfully, many of these mental effects pass quickly with the following suggestions:

  • Take a multifaceted approach. Studies indicate that addressing each issue in a thoughtful, organized way creates more rapid and sustained results.
  • See your medical provider to establish baselines and look for any other issues
    • In addition to routine testing, blood tests should include Vitamin B12 and D levels, homocysteine levels, sex hormone testing and inflammation testing with hs-CRP. Urine tests should include testing for toxins like Lead and Mercury. Arterial plaque testing with IMT provides insight into your levels of arterial plaque formation.
    • Aerobic fitness is critical to mental sharpness so ask about metabolic equivalency (MET) testing at your doctor’s office or your local gym.
    • Ask about home sleep testing. Many aren’t aware of sleep difficulties and education around sleep hygiene can be very effective when necessary.
    • Anxiety and Depression testing. There are many scales that your clinician will be familiar with. Further brain testing, and training can be done when necessary on line at www.BrainHQ.com
    • More sophisticated testing of brain and body function can be ordered when necessary.

Let’s begin!

These are Dr. Masley’s four pillars.

  1. A Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based foods flavored with herbs and spices; healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds; and small amounts of organic animal protein.
    1. Dr. Masley is also a chef and offers many options to suit your taste.
  2. Nutrients that correct for imbalances and round out your diet such as:
    1. Vitamin D3
    2. Omega three
  3. Exercise
    1. Ask your doctor about this.
    2. Start slowly with ample warm-up time. Don’t eat for one hour before each exercise session. Remain hydrated throughout the session. Maintain your posture. Protect your joints.
    3. Avoid soreness by favoring possibly “feeling a little tight” the next day. Allow a day of rest to provide complete healing between sessions. If you can’t keep your form during an exercise, either decrease the weight or slow down.
    4. Build aerobic fitness, strength, balance and flexibility with an emphasis on aerobic fitness.
    5. Make it fun! Exercising with someone is much more fun and inspiring. Listen to inspiring music, close your eyes, listen to the words in the song and let your body go with the flow! Use mirrors to watch your form and posture and to get to know yourself better.
  4. Stress reduction – See the Grow in Oneness video series for more on these strategies.
    1. Develop a richer spiritual life.
    2. Find a mentor or accountability partner that inspires you.
    3. Develop habits that engage your spiritual understandings into relationships that inspire you.
    4. Manage your time to decrease the time you spend in “emergent mode”.
    5. Allow 20% of your day for personal growth and opportunity.
    6. Maintain sleep and hydration. Few drink enough water! 50% of your weight in pounds equals the number of ounces of water you should drink each day. (More with exercise on a hot day!)
    7. Consider journaling what you learn each night to document what works for you and so later you can write YOUR book!