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  • Cookhouse Hero

Food Addiction: Why is this reality controversial?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) doesn't include food addiction. Yet, cheese is clearly addictive due to it's opioid compound called casomorphins, found in casein (the protein in mammal's milk). For mostly recovered food junkies like me, we don't need proof this is real. 

  • Real Food Recipes: Polenta crust pizza?! Check out WPF pizza recipes from Forks Over KnivesLINK

  • In the News: Symptoms, triggers, and environments - steps to address food addiction. LINK

  • Feeding Families: The Beet offers five tips to help transition your family to eating plants. LINK

Food Addiction

(what's your "heroin" of choice?)


Addiction is beginning to show up everywhere. 

     For example, neuroscience has uncovered that we’re not only addicted to drugs and alcohol, we’re also bio-chemically addicted to less tangible things like anger, war, being right, and dogmas. Yet, humans are reluctant to embrace the reality that we’re all suffering from our “heroin" of choice, whether it’s less visible like addiction to money or likes on social media (ie greed or narcissism) or obvious like loaded nachos with low-and-slow BBQ pig. So, what's at the core of our denial? One main reason is that we don’t want to expose ourselves as a flawed human with one or more addictions, and denial seems to be more enticing than waking up and smelling the stink in our brain and behaviors. It’s the same phenomenon for unfortunate souls in abusive relationships who deny their experiences and bruises, inside and out. You see, it takes profound effort to tell the truth. Instead, us humans take life-long medications for preventable and reversible lifestyle diseases, get cut open for heart stents, and give up an active life filled with body-brain mobility.

The words ABUSE and ADDICTION are filled with fear because we emotionally connect skid-row junkies from film scenes... to one of the most common conditions on the planet.

The mainstream psychology world is reluctant to admit that food addiction is real, too. 

     Why all the controversy? The most obvious reason would be the influence of Big Food, Beverage, Pharma, Medicine, Education, Research, Law, Marketing, Agriculture, and Public Policy. All of these players benefit directly and/or indirectly from the status quo of pills, procedures, and perpetual illness via misinformation and disinformation campaigns. A second reason would be that the people in charge of classifying what an addiction entails are, themselves, addicted to something. It might be inconceivable for them to admit this privately let alone expose this publicly. This could be porn, tobacco, or food. It doesn’t matter what the objects of our desire look like, because the reptilian part of our brain called basal ganglia doesn't care about the source. Dopamine is dopamine. Addiction is addiction.

Another reason why food hasn't been classified as an addiction is emotional. 

     For example, when schools introduce more whole plant foods into meal programs, many kids and grown-ups alike fight back. Intellectually, kids and grown-ups understand that apples and WPF bean burritos are smart food choices. However, even the mere thought of including more nutrient-dense options has shown to create serious push back. Our emotions then subconsciously twist this threat onto other things like our beloved Grandma’s pecan pie made with love (and filled with sugar, fat, and inflammation-causing ingredients). We think our favorite dishes need to be fiercely protected... and how dare anyone throw shade against our Nana?! It doesn’t matter that this isn’t a rational reaction and doesn’t make objective sense. The tangled web we humans weave - with our knee-jerk responses to solid, evidence-based research - seems to be more influential than reality. Emotional reactions to foods and beverages are gorilla-glued to our experiences as children. Sadly, they're also stuck to our food and beverage addictions.

This cuts DEEP, because it's hard to acknowledge that the people we trust(ed) directly contributed to our addiction through junk food, diary, sugary and fatty foods, processed meats, and other processed foods and beverages. Ouch. To be fair, we all don't know what we all don't know, including our Nanas.

What to do? 

     For me, I’ve trained myself to see beyond the so-called expertise of talking heads with conventional accolades and degrees, and this comes from someone who taught in academia for 11 years! Plus, I've stopped engaging in the madness via the media hype, “expert” panels, and too many studies (but not all) which were funded by the very people who created - and continue to create - this mess in the first place. Most importantly, I’ve finally learned to forgive the culprits of my own food addiction, including myself, and I've let the resentments and regrets go. Exhale. Because I crave non-nutritious foods that can make humans sick and dead, and since I've learned that I’ll occasionally cave to these cravings for the rest of my life because unlike beer, food abstinence isn't possible, I’m transforming anger into action and calling foul.

     Through an abundance and variety of WPF, I'm a mostly recovered food junkie, and I'm here to officially report that food addiction is real. Full stop. It's time to address, once and for all, what this is, where it comes from, and how to manage it better. The truth is: food addiction is far more common than any of us would like to think.

Click on the links below to learn more about food addiction and how to shift towards food freedom!

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