13. Food Addiction
People become overweight because they overeat. They may overeat because they are overtired, unhappy or bored. Some individuals overeat because of psychological and emotional factors—such as compulsive eating as a compensation for frustration, defeat or loss. Anxiety and a poor self-image are so uncomfortable that relief is urgent.
Food reduces the energy level in brain and thus relieves anxiety and depression.
People overeat to satisfy these emotional needs which translate into vague cravings which seem to be never satisfied.
Or they may be overeating because of poor mastication, stomach enlargement due to a history of
overeating, or because their inadequate diets leave them physiologically unsatisfied. The result is food addiction.
Any type of addiction—be it addiction to sugar, salt, condiments, coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, vitamin pills—or even food in general—inhibits pancreatic efficiency, and pancreatic efficiency has a relationship to both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (diabetes). William Phillpott, M.D., specialist in cerebral allergies and psychiatry, says, “Addiction is dangerous, because it suppresses pancreatic function.”
Mehl McDowell, M.D., says that irresistible cravings for food can be understood as the typical cravings of addicts, stemming from cyclic biochemical processes. The addiction can be made to temporarily disappear in several days after totally avoiding the foods to which the individual is addicted. The addictive food will frequently be one or more in the sugar/white flour group, but it can be any foods, which, when discovered, are “enemy foods” for that person.
Dr. McDowell says that total abstinence from the “enemy foods” is only the first phase, which must be followed by a “conditioned reflex response”—the “instant yuk technique.” The person trains himself to react with disgust to thoughts about the “enemy foods.” (See article “Say Goodbye to Compulsive Eating,” in this lesson.)
Once the addiction is under control, even overeating syndromes with psychological bases can be more easily restrained.
Binge eating is the way that bingers cope with life’s problems, and this may contribute more to overweight than any other factor. Binge eaters may compulsively pile in hundreds, or thousands, of calories, almost without any true realization, satisfaction or enjoyment. They are trying, unsuccessfully (perhaps unconsciously) to escape from reality. Some people drink, some use drugs, some go on shopping sprees—and some eat. They usually eat rapidly, as though fearful they will be deprived of the mountain of food.
13.2 How To Escape From The Slavery To Overeating
An article in “Food for Thought”—a brochure found in health food restaurants—suggests, “With or without outside help,” (the best is Overeaters Anonymous), “the binge eater can learn to apply some principles of behavior modification. First, binge eaters must learn to pay attention to what’s happening at the start of the binge—the time of day, where they were, what they were doing, what they were thinking, what they were feeling. It helps to keep a daily log or diary. Second, they must analyze what they discover. Divorced individuals might find, for example, that the binge usually occurs in late afternoon when they become acutely aware that the former mate won’t be coming home to share the evening meal with them.
“And third, they can learn to break the chain. In the example we just used, the individual could make a point of being somewhere else in the late afternoon—the library, an early movie, a gym or an adult education class, for example. Learning to control binge eating is difficult, but not impossible, and it’s worth the effort.”
The individual must work to initiate whatever changes are necessary for release from slavery to the appetite; that will help to break the habits of unwholesome redundancy which are threatening physiological, efficiency. When major sources of former eating pleasure are eliminated, they must be replaced by a new eating style that can gradually grow to be even more pleasurable, and by a new life that can be psychologically, emotionally, mentally and physically rewarding. The individual must be encouraged to not concentrate on what is being given up, but rather on what will be gained.
The body chemistry is influenced by the food that is eaten. When the diet is altered and the new diet maintained for a given length of time, the enzymes, body fluids, and glandular secretions become increasingly adapted to the influences and requirements of the new food program, just as the organism necessarily struggles to adapt, when it is bombarded with junk food, or too much of any kind of food. The important difference is that the prior adaptation to the misguided food program involved health deterioration, while the readjustment in the direction of an ideal food program is towards improved health.
We are not referring to calorie restriction in the usual sense. Reducing diets are always frustrating and frequently unsuccessful, since they involve countless decisions and the exercise of power at every meal. It never becomes any easier to eat half portions and to refuse the dessert, because the reducing diet continues and accentuates the perverted tastes and cravings of the malnourished (even though adipose) body.
Rather, we are referring to a planned program of meeting all of the body’s nutritional requirements in a pleasant, satisfying, rational manner, with no redundancy or surfeit, which will tend to gradually reeducate perverted appetites—and produce such a sense of well-being that cravings will become easier to handle, and gradually all but disappear.
Ideally, such a program should be preceded by a thorough indoctrination into the precepts of the Hygienic system. The initial period will require mind control and firmness of purpose—but the potential rewards for those who have the determination to succeed are almost incalculable.
The first thing to do is to determine one’s goal, make plans, and don’t stop until success is attained. Those who stumble along the way should pick themselves up, forget about the fall, and keep right on going. The only failure is giving up.
Learning to do something—to drive, to play a musical instrument—takes many hours of practice, and so many mistakes!
13.3 Forming New Habits
It is not easy to break a habit. At first, you may dislike or even hate what you are trying to do. Tough it through! Soon it won’t seem so difficult and the worst part is over. But the best is yet to come, and you will eventually experience the delights of good food and good health.
A simple approach to the whole problem of overeating is the elimination of cooked food to the greatest extent possible. It is difficult to habitually overeat at meals when no cooked or processed foods are served. (However, snackers can overeat, even of uncooked food.)
John M. Douglass, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Southern California Permanente Medical Group (in his reports in the Medical World News and the Annals of Internal Medicine) says that raw food diets reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in many diabetics, reduce blood pressure, and develop an inner feeling of cleanness that causes people to want to reject such habits as smoking, drinking and overeating (from Organic Gardening Magazine, July 1978).
13.4 A Practical Program
A very practical program to eliminate the over-consumption of food is to begin with a short fast (about three days), followed by a program of twelve meals weekly —a thirty-six hour fast one day out of seven, and two meals a day on the other six days—with probably one meal around noon and the other in the early evening—no snacking.
Most people do well on such a program. Occasionally, we find a person who tends at each meal when he is limited to twelve meals weekly, or who keeps to this program, eating moderately, but who never feels satisfied. Such a person might do better on a semi-monthly fast of thirty-six hours, and alternating between two and three meals daily. Experimentation may be necessary to help the individual to determine his or her own requirements and capacities, which may be influenced by the rate and efficiency of the metabolism and assimilation.
- 1. Foreword
- 2. Quintessence
- 3. “Appetite” Is Not Hunger
- 4. Development Of The Habit Of Overeating
- 5. Overeating Undermines Health
- 6. The Remedy Mentality
- 7. How Overeating Vitiates The Body
- 8. If You Want To Eat More, Eat Less
- 9. Light Eaters Vs. Heavy Eaters
- 10. The General Rule
- 11. Building Health And Strength
- 12. Willpower Is Supported By Knowledge
- 13. Food Addiction
- 14. History
- 15. Today
- 16. Fasting Fanaticism Vs. Rational Fasting
- 17. Special Problems
- 18. Diet Fanaticism
- 19. Bulimia
- 20. A Rational System Of Weight Control
- 21. Heroic Methods For Compulsive Eaters
- 22. Knowledge And Wisdom
- 23. Epilogue
- 24. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: It’s All In the State of Mind By Walter D. Wintle
- Article #2: How To Make Yourself Over by Self-Programming
- Article #3: Say Goodbye to Compulsive Eating By Mehl McDowell, M.D.
- Article #4: Well! You Wanted to Know By Vivian V. Vetrano
- Article #5: Why I Don’t Fast To Lose Weight By Marti Fry
- Article #6: Help! I Can’t Stop Eating