Is It Food Addiction?

Joseph E. Scherger MD, MPH

I recently read the 2012 book by Dr. Pamela Peake titled The Hunger Fix (Rodale).  Here Dr. Peake presents detailed advice for how to get over your “false fixes” to unhealthy foods and replace them with a “healthy fix” to better nutrition and greater well-being.  If you feel that you are addicted to sweets and other foods, this book is uplifting and provides lots of good advice.

My comment, not meant to be a criticism of her book, is that we know what foods are truly addicting and what are not.  The problem is not “food addiction” but rather addiction to sugar and other high glycemic carbohydrates.  These are the foods that trigger the addiction receptors in our brain, much like alcohol and drugs, and get us hooked.  The detox is to sugar and other carbs and once you get beyond that, you no longer crave these unhealthy foods and can enjoy the pleasures of feeling healthy.

I have yet to meet a person addicted to broccoli and other healthy foods such as nuts and seeds.  However these foods are satisfying and you feel good the rest of the day if you eat them, as long as you do not ingest the sweets or grains.  Eating healthy requires discipline since the temptations for unhealthy foods are all around us.  Dr. Peake rightfully points out that getting over food addiction may be the hardest of all because of our culture and the omnipresent advertising for sweets, breads and other flour based foods.  Here is where getting a “healthy fix” becomes important.

Thank you Dr. Peake.