Mind Over Matter: Overcoming Food Addiction
Is food addiction just a state of mind?
The taste buds of most Americans are adapted to high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are not inherently more enjoyable than healthy, whole food. But most people will choose to die prematurely of strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, diabetes complications and cancer anyway.
Modern technology has chemically and hormonally engineered our food to stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain. Artificial foods comprise a whopping 93% of the American diet. And when the concentrated, adulterated, and processed foods are consistently consumed, they quickly become preferred. Our palette adjusts to “normal”, and it’s a slippery slope. Eventually, these foods take on a hollow flavor, driving us to eat more in search of that initial high that we found so briefly intoxicating. Food addiction is real, but only a terminal disease if you allow it to win.
Have you ever noticed that you really don’t taste what you are eating after the first few bites? This is because the majority of our sensory nerves are only activated when something new is presented…we squint when the light suddenly brightens, flinch when the music blares as the car starts, and salivate as we take the first bite of grilled barbecue.
We simply “get used” to things quickly. When our sensory nerves fire, our brain adjusts accordingly. Our pupils dilate and our eyes adjust. We no longer notice the music in the background, and we don’t taste the grease by the third bite of pizza. This phenomenon is referred to as neuroadaptation. We become desensitized once we become familiar. But given time, the sense of deprivation fades and “normal” enjoyment returns. And creatively delicious meals that exceed expectation will provide the same sense of satisfaction as junk food once did.
Scientific evidence suggests that re-sensitization of taste nerves can take between 30 and 90 days of consistent exposure to less stimulating foods. So making the switch to a healthy diet can feel like a downer. It’s the exact opposite of jumping into cold water on a hot day, as there is little exhilaration to the “shock” of a unfamiliar diet filled with fresh vegetables.
Our food addiction to chemically engineered products quickly trumps our motivation to do what we know is right. Tragically, many people don’t have the self-discipline to recalibrate their taste buds because they don’t believe that life won’t taste this bland forever. (Only 30-90 days!) But like a frog that refuses to jump from a pot on course to boil, we don’t realize that our taste nerves are desensitized by the ever-increasing concentrations of flavor chemicals that food manufactures use to capture our dollars.
Only when we truly understand that the foods we eat create the health we experience, will we recognize that we have a CHOICE. Ultimately, it’s not modern food addiction that destroys our bodies. It’s the inability to recognize our own power, and outsmart the inner two-year-old that needs instant gratification.
Whether you see yourself as a sugar-fiend, carb-addict, junk-food junkie or meat-eating maverick, if you say, “I could never give up __________!”, then it is absolutely true. But put some space between your craving and your response, and look at who you want to be instead of who you were. And then act accordingly…
What distinguishes the majority of men from the fewis their inability to act according to their beliefs.