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Includes Expert Content
Eating/Exercise Habits
sunriver1073 posted:
Is it possible that I could be addicted to food? It is on my mind most of the time and it seems all of my favorite things are bad for me (pasta, burritos, chicken lo mein, etc.). I currently weigh 180lbs at only 5ft. Recently, I have begun hitting the gym. Unfortunately, the coming month, I will be away from the gym and exposed to more unhealthy food. I will be going back to the gym in January. What can I incorporate in my exercise plan and how can I get past this over zealous need for food?
totallywiggedout responded:
Hi sunriver, welcome.
Yes , there is food addiction... that's why there are support groups like Overeaters Anonymous. But most people don't suffer from true addiction , just lack of control.
First off, you need to assess what are the triggers for your overeating. I guarantee it's not from true hunger. So you need to really assess the situations that put you in danger of bingeing. We are creatures of habit, change your habits that involve eating, and you will be able to better control your intake.
Like if you always stop at the same pop shop going to or coming from home, and pick up your munchies. Don't go there. Even go so far as to take another route. I had to do this, and lo and behold , about a month of not stopping at my fave munchie store, I didn't miss it.
If you munch while reading in bed, sit outside if it's nice , to read, or better yet, go to a park, library or even a shopping mall bench to read. Take that temptation away.
My guess is, you are an emotional eater and that you eat when you are bored. And I'm betting that if you start a bag of chips or cookies, you eat most if not all of it.
Eating straight from a package doesn't let you visually SEE how much you are actually consuming. You need to portion out A SERVING (serving size found on package label) and control yourself.
Drink water. Your body can't really tell your brain it's thirsty. Your brain can't distinguish between thirst and hunger pangs like you'd think it could. It kinda reads it all the same.... So, if you have the urge to eat, Drink at least a 16 oz bottle of water first. Then, it takes 20 min for your brain to receive "input" messages from your digestive system, If and ONLY if you still feel hungry after the 20 min, try something good for you, like a cup of raw baby carrots and 1 Tblsp of peanut butter. The fiber in the carrots and the protein in the pb will help fill you up and keep you full longer than any storebought prepackaged munch food out there.
It's all in choices. If you want to lose weight, you need to slow down, think, commit, and start making healthier choices of the foods you consume.
Think foods that fuel your body, not your cravings.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work --- Thomas Edison

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger---Friedrich Nietzche
Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP responded:
Hi and thanks for your posting. The answer is yes, you can be addicted to food. In my book, The Hunger Fix, the new science of food addiction is presented as well as a practical strategy. Take this quick test
It was developed by a team at Yale university and is a scientifically validated tool to assess food addiction.

The key foods involved are what we in science call the "hyperpalatables" or some combinations of sugary/fatty/salty foods, most often refined and processed. As the book describes, too much exposure to these foods leads to changes in your brain's reward center identical to that of any addicted brain (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes). The brain changes also include the part of the brain that helps you rein in your impulses and plan and organize (the prefrontal cortex). This part of the brain is damaged and impaired making it difficult to make the right decision while you're still in full on addictive mode. How do you help yourself?

You need to do what anyone with an addictive process going on must do--- get off the stuff, substitute with healthier fare, and enter a lifelong recovery. You sound like someone who likes the fatty, crunchy, salty foods especially. There are plenty of great substitutions for those kinds of foods. In addition to the food plans i have presented in my book, there's also wonderful ideas on the WebMD Food and Fitness Planner, which i reference throughout my book.

When it's hard to hit the gym and your life gets crazy during the holidays etc, the best strategy is to assume the vertical and walk as much as you can throughout each day. It's like pennies in a piggybank---it all adds up.

Then, assess how you can start to do some smart substitutions for the typical food fixes you've been used to consuming. Read up as I've noted and make a plan. Know the foods that when you have one serving, kick you into a binge. These bingeables have to be eliminated. Yes, there is life without mountains of burritos.

Have a read and let me know how you're doing. You CAN do this. Read the stories in the book. Many have. Join'em!

Good luck

Dr. Peeke

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Everyday Fitness - Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP

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