Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Healthy Habits: Holidays and Food Addiction

The holiday season is a time of parties and family feasts. People consume more calories during the holidays than any other time of the year. This high calorie intake usually begins with Halloween. While everyone knows that most people traditionally gain weight during the holidays, what might surprise many is that holidays foods can actually cause addiction problems and the holidays are the time of year that many develop drinking and drug addictions. Dr. Keith Kantor, a leading nutritionist and CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking Program (NAMED). Dr. Kantor says there is a direct connection between high calorie holiday foods and addiction.
Why is food addiction not as recognized as other forms of addiction?
Binge eating disorder may be the closest form of food addiction that is recognized on a large scale.  Binge Eating Disorder is defined as a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

Food has many emotional ties to people and there are several reasons that people are overweight and obese, using a blanket term such as food addiction does not give lead to the best course of individual treatment etc. Food is hard addiction to treat since it cannot be eliminated, we need to survive it.  Education and therapy, specifically focusing on triggers, self-awareness and behavior modification, is the best way to treat a food addiction. 

How can food addictions develop?
They develop individually, some people turn to food for comfort, sugary, fatty processed foods stimulate the opiate receptors and cause a dopamine response for a short period of time (the same as drugs and alcohol), making a person feel happy.  If these foods are consumed regularly, the body becomes addicted to that response, especially if the person eating these foods is uneducated and not motivated to consume a balanced diet, rich in nutrients. 

What is the link between food addictions and the holidays?
Holiday foods tend to be high in ingredients like sugar, carbohydrates and processed fats, these food stimulate the opiate receptors and lead to that addictive dopamine response.  It is important to consume a healthy balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein and heart healthy fats, in addition to half of your body weight in ounces of water. Alkaline Hydroxide water AQUA-OH! Is our favorite for reducing acid and inflammation which in itself can decrease cravings. 

How can people recognize if they have a food addiction and where can they go for help?
Food addictions are best defined as BED (Binge Eating Disorder), review definition above and if you feel like you are out of control eating or craving foods, then you may have addiction issues. Seek a counselor who specialized in food addiction behavior therapies. 

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