Sunday, September 28, 2014

Food Addiction: Why Move-More-Eat-Less Does Not Work for Everyone

If you've ever read the comments section of a blog post about diets, you've noticed there are always a few smugsters who write, "You don't need to diet. Just move more and eat less. Works for me."

That's nice. You probably floss your teeth every day and clean behind your refrigerator, too.

But if moving more and eating less worked for everyone, we would not have a multi-billion-dollar diet industry and enough diet books published each year to fill a motor home.

What these wise guys fail to realize is that some people are food addicts, or more specifically, they are addicted to certain types of foods. Some people call them junk foods. Some people call them bad foods. Some people call them trigger foods. Some people call them addictive foods. Some people just call them crap (as in "I can't believe how much crap I ate today").

No matter what you call them, these foods are different for different people.

To its credit, Frito-Lay
was totally overt about its
serpentine marketing strategy
You can put a package of Oreos in every room of my house and I would never be tempted to rip open the plastic, but lock up fresh-baked cookies in a metal safe and I'd turn into the Cookie Monster trying to figure out how to get inside. Ditto for chips with guacamole or cheese dip. Which explains why Lay's Potato Chips' "Betcha can't eat just one" advertising slogan resonated so strongly with chip junkies.

In recent years several books, such as Michael Moss's "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us," have revealed that food processors purposely add just the right amount of salt, sugar and fat to our foods to make them addictive.

What chance do we have against a conspiracy designed to pad food companies' bottom lines while padding our bottoms with extra pounds?

As with all addictive behaviors, there are chemicals involved that turn us into invertebrates in the presence of certain foods. Just the thought of eating an addictive food activates our brain's pleasure center (a.k.a. nucleus accumbens), which causes it to release dopamine. This in turn creates a strong compulsion to find and consume that food.

Our bodies further betray us big time by releasing the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes us think we're famished even if we just ate a perfectly filling meal.

Adding to this perfect storm, the more we eat the bad foods, the fewer dopamine receptors we have, and the more of that food we need to eat to attain the same level of pleasure. It's a wonder we don't all weigh three hundred pounds.

Trigger foods, such as sandwich buns,
activate the pleasure center in our brain
For me, the best weapon for battling my addiction to junk food was finding a diet plan that helped me sublimate my cravings by eating something similar that did not trigger me to eat crap. A year ago I started the Take Shape for Life program and lost 35 pounds in less than four months by substituting Medifast bars, soft bakes and cheesy puffs for analogous snacky foods.

Of course, I couldn't subsist on space food forever; so what happened when I stopped doing the Medifast 5&1 Plan and had to maintain my weight? Why didn't I just balloon right back up like most yo-yo dieters who no longer have the crutch of their diet program to keep the bad foods at bay?

That is a question I have asked myself many times in these past eight months. I've had a few instances of quasi-binge-eating trigger foods, but overall these instances have been rare. It's possible that by doing Medifast I have found permanent substitute snacks that satisfy me and make my trigger foods less compelling. The fruit and vegetable green blast I drink mid-day, for instance, makes me forget about eating again for many hours.

I will probably always be a food addict. And if I were to stock my cupboards with trigger foods, I would likely indulge my cravings and get back on the diet merry-go-round.

Instead, I focus on finding healthier foods I enjoy that will not make me over-consume empty calorie foods and regain all the weight I have lost. So far it is working.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast replacement meals on Amazon

Similar posts:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast?

How Medifast Helped Me Develop Better Habits

Medifast Centers Vs. DIY Medifast

Irrational Numbers: Doing the Math on Medifast Popcorn

Medifast Vs. Lean Cuisine Diet

Visit my other blogs:

Fit Kitty

Food Trends 


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