FOOD HABITS AND ADDICTION
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Addiction may be defined as an unhealthy attachment, habituation or dependency to anything, or even to anyone or any place. This is a very general explanation of a complex process, however. For more general information on addiction, view the article Addiction on this site. This article focuses more on food addictions. However, we will first review the basics of addiction, from the point of view of body chemistry.
WHAT IS AN ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE OR HABIT?
Anything that causes a temporary 'high' or feeling of well-being, followed by a 'low', will tend to be addictive. As the effect wears off, another dose or 'fix' is needed to regain the temporary high.
A negative addictive substance or habit is one that weakens the body or mind. It stimulates, rather than nourishes. When the 'high' wears off, one feels even worse than before. One is attracted back to the substance or person to feel good once again. This is the basic principle of all addiction.
Nourishment Vs. Stimulation. Something that causes well-being by nourishing the body is not usually considered addictive, although one could become devoted to it in a positive sense. The feeling of being nourished is usually different. Instead of a temporary high, there is a gentle, lasting effect from nourishing substances or habits.
It is also possible that a drug, food substance, habit or a personal relationship is in part nourishing or nurturing, and in part addictive or co-dependent.
For example, exercise is excellent for the body in that it promotes better circulation, sweating and teaches discipline in many instances. However, exercise is also hard on the adrenal and thyroid glands, and often can damage parts of the body if one is not careful, such as harming the knees and feet by running on pavement.
Another example is coffee. Coffee contains nutrients, but is also stimulating and irritating. Cigarettes encourage deeper breathing, but contain cadmium, nicotine and other poisons. Alcohol can be used as a fuel, but depletes zinc and magnesium and damages the liver. Thus, it is not always clear if something is a pure addiction, or if one is receiving some type of nurturing or nourishment from it. Now let us discuss some common addictive foods.
Recently, a teenager consulted me who admitted he was addicted to Coca Cola. He had spent time in a local mental institution for severe depression. During his stay, he was allowed all the Coca Cola he wanted. No one understood why he made poor progress. When his nutrition was corrected and he was placed on a healing program to heal his addiction to sugar and caffeine, his depression lifted and he no longer wanted so much soda pop.
Sugar is addictive for millions of people today due to 1) weak adrenal glands, 2) impaired blood sugar regulation that causes fluctuation of blood sugar during the day, 3) diabetes in many, including may who are not diagnosed yet with this condition, 4) the presence of candida albicans infection or other conditions that feed on sugar in the diet, 5) an inability to process or derive benefit from more complex foods, including starches, proteins and fats.
There are many other reasons why sugars are addictive, but these are among the major ones. Let us discuss a few of them.
ADDICTION AND THE ADRENAL GLANDS
A simple mechanism of addiction is that many addictive substances stimulate the adrenal glands. Hormones secreted by the adrenal glands provide a 'high' or euphoric feeling.
If you doubt this, ask someone who is taking high-dose cortisone. They feel no pain. Ever wonder how football players smash into one another at full speed, and often jump up again smiling? It is not just due to knee and shoulder pads. Many professional athletes receive cortisone shots for their injuries. Also, the excitement of the game revs up their adrenal glands and they feel less pain.
In part, the adrenal high is due to raising the blood sugar level and increasing the metabolic rate. Most people with addictions have weak adrenal glands. They crave the euphoric feeling that goes with more active adrenals. They gravitate to substances or situations that stimulate the adrenals. These can range from caffeine and sugar, to cocaine, anger, fear or even job or marital drama. Any stimulant eventually weakens the adrenals, causing a deepening of the addiction.
Weak Adrenals. Have you ever noticed how much coffee with sugar is consumed at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings? Weak adrenals often result in hypoglycemia since adrenal hormones such as cortisol raise blood sugar. This condition is very common.
When the blood sugar level drops, cravings can be very strong for sugar, soda pop, a cigarette or another adrenal stimulant. Alcohol craving can also be caused by low blood sugar.
One can normalize blood sugar by adding protein or fat to the diet, and with supplements including zinc, manganese, chromium, B-complex vitamins, selenium and others. However, usually this is only a temporary fix at best. We recommend a complete nutritional balancing program over a period of time will correct the blood sugar handling mechanism at deep levels. Correction may take a few years, but is far more permanent.
THE PEPSI GENERATION
Soda pop is an interesting addictive substance. Not only does it contain caffeine and up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per can, but it also contains phosphoric acid.
This highly toxic chemical is added, in part, to reduce the sweetness of the product. However, it also binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in the intestines and removes them from the body.
This may temporarily increases the metabolic rate, making one feel better for a while. The sugar also does this, of course, on a very temporary basis, however.
Unfortunately, it also always leads to mineral deficiencies, which are aggravated by the sugar content of the beverage. Thus, sodas are one of the worst foods on the planet.
Diet Sodas. These pernicious beverages are even worse in some cases. They do not have the dextrose, fructose or other refined sweetener. Instead, they are laced with an artificial sweetener such as aspartame, also labeled Nutrasweet or Equal in many cases. Up to 70 other chemicals are in the drdink but are not required to be labeled.
The intense sweetness can and does mislead the body into thinking it has consumed a sugar-laden beverage. As a result, the insulin mechanism is activated, but without any need for it. So it is deceptive food, if one can even call it a food. Diet soda, therefore, perpetuates the sweet taste and can even aggravate sugar cravings. Perhaps this is why studies show that those who consume diet beverages do not lose weight and may gain even more weight.
Sugar in millions of other foods is no better. There is probably no food item that is intentionally used so much to induce addiction to products for the sake of sales. Sugars are used universally in restaurants in sauces, dressings, desserts, breads and much more. Candies, of course, are full of sugars, as are many other food products. Ice cream is another horror, nutritionally speaking, thanks to its huge sugar content. Baked goods almost all have lots of sugar hidden in them.
Teach your friends and your children that advertisements for soda pop and other junk foods are total lies. Drinking Pepsi won't make you slim, beautiful or popular, even drinking gallons a day.
THE CANDIDA ALBICANS CONNECTION
Deranged body chemistry, especially combined with sugar consumption, often leads to chronic intestinal candidiasis. Deficiencies of zinc and other minerals weaken the normal immune response.
Weakened adrenals cause copper to become biounavailable. Copper is the body's natural yeast killer. Also, eating sugar feeds the yeast, which encourages its growth.
Candida produces alcohol and acetaldehyde, both toxic substances. The alcohol can produce its own addiction, even though a person hasn't touched a drop of alcohol!
Both substances further weaken the body, affecting the will power and mental clarity. Repeated antibiotic therapy, birth control pills and steroid therapy may be additional addiction factors as they contribute to yeast overgrowth and weaken body chemistry.
MSG AND FOOD ADDICTION
This is a simple food addiction, but one that affects millions worldwide. This is no exaggeration. MSG or monosodium glutamate is found in hundreds, if not thousands of food products found in stores and restaurants, in particular. It creates more appetite and gives more flavor to some foods, so people will want more of it. Food made without it can seem bland and tasteless.
MSG goes by many names on labels, but doesn’t even have to be on the label many times. Some of those names include Accent, “natural flavorings”, yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and more. Restaurants use it all the time, especially fast food places. To read more about MSG, read the article entitled MSG And Aspartame. Both of these substances can be addictive for some people.
This is another common food addiction in adults, in our experience. As with sugar, it can be the sugar content of the milk, though cheese and yogurt are usually not sweet unless they are sweetened in some way.
More often, the addiction is to the calcium, fats, tryptophan or other calming nutrients the milk or cheese provide. It can also be a combination of these nutrients or perhaps other substances in the milk.
Milk allergy can cause an addictive process. This means that one can have a sensitivity or allergy to a food that causes a craving for it. This is a difficult concept to grasp for some, but very important to discuss in relation to foods. It is not unlike alcohol, to which some people have a great sensitivity. However, some of these people crave the alcohol anyway. It is complex in the way it interacts with the body chemistry in these people, and by continuing the habit the body handles the allergic reaction. However, if one stops the food or alcohol, the craving returns with a vengeance. Perhaps if one stops drinking the milk, the body goes through an unpleasant withdrawal reaction and craves more milk to stop the reaction. In this case, the solution is to suffer through the withdrawal and the craving will then disappear.
Emotional craving for milk. Milk could have an emotional craving potential because mother’s milk was the first food we all had. If there was a problem with love or attention early in life, it can leave scars that continue the early craving for nourishment, love or attention in the form of milk.
What To Do About Milk Craving. As body chemistry improves the craving for milk usually lessens. In the meantime, it is important to know that regular pasteurized cows milk is not a healthful food at all. In contrast, up to 6 ounces or so of raw or perhaps organic cows or goat milk is a fine product for most people, unless one has an allergy to dairy products. Goat milk is actually better than cows milk in most cases.
Substitutes for milk. Almond milk or rice milk are fair, but not nearly as nutritious as raw cows or goat milk. These are okay in small quantity once in a while, but are not very good products.
Soy milk is definitely an inferior product because soy contains anti-nutrients and estrogen mimicking chemicals that are not that helpful, even for menopausal women, I might add.
Almond, rice or soy milk will usually not satisfy a craving for milk because they are not high enough in fat and other nutrients.
BREAD OR CARBOHYDRATE ADDICTION
This is also very common. It may be the most common food addiction in adults and in some children, after sugar. For many people, eating bread, they say, calms them down. This type of addiction is discussed in a separate article entitled Carbohydrate Addiction.
Supporting the adrenal glands is an excellent way nutrition can be used to end the cycle of addiction. Nourishing the adrenal glands to enhance their activity will provide some of the same euphoric feelings without the harmful effects of stimulants. Adrenal activity is related to the level of tissue potassium and especially sodium. Substances that raise sodium can enhance adrenal activity. Nutrients that raise sodium include vitamins B, C and E, manganese, chromium and molybdenum, and eating protein with each meal. High-dose intravenous vitamin C has been used to help alcohol and heroin addicts reduce withdrawal reactions.
Understanding how substances, habits and even emotions affect the adrenal glands can be a key to understanding their addictive power.
STRENGTHENING THE WILL
Strengthening the adrenal glands can improve a person's resolve or willpower. The adrenals are called the fight-or-flight glands. Our ability to secrete adrenal hormones in large part determines our ability to handle stress. Adrenal glands weakened by sugar consumption, stress or anything else may reduce one's ability to resist the temptations of other drugs.
In other words, our ability to cope with our reality depends in part upon a balanced body chemistry. The use of any item or habit that weakens or unbalances the chemistry reduces the ability to handle stress.
The temptation to go into denial then increases, and with it the temptation to utilize drugs or other habits to deny reality. It is possible to overcome a weak will through faith, concentration or a support group. However, fixing your body chemistry can also be a great help!
As some people know, before real healing can occur one often has to feel the pain, exhaustion and depletion of the body. Alcoholics Anonymous calls this 'bottoming out'. It leads to a shift in attitude. One no longer seeks the temporary high, but rather seeks the truth about what one has become. This rests the adrenals. Without rest, little rebuilding can take place.
Practicing the old virtues of forgiving, loving, allowing, accepting and non-judgment rests the body. One gives up fighting and running, so that true rebuilding can occur.
Along with an attitude shift, depleted glands and deranged body chemistry can be supported and balanced through a nutritional balancing program of the type we design for people. Check this website for a list of practitioners who offer this. We cannot recommend anyone else at this time, because most doctors do not understand how to delicately balance body chemistry using food, nutrients, sauna therapy and other simple methods.
Once the emotional and the physical aspects of addiction are understood, one is on the road to a solid basis for health. Completely balancing and rebuilding the body can help dramatically to lessen and remove most of the causes of food addiction. Patience and persistence are required, but most everyone can get over their food addictions, in my experience.