COMPULSIVE OVEREATING AND BRAIN CHEMISTRY

Question:

For the food addict is the solution to their addiction a food plan abstaining from sugar and flour laden or high glycemic foods, and, is this always and forever? Food, unlike cocaine, is necessary in life and all around us.

I find it difficult to imagine that an individual will realistically be able to completely abstain from those foods forever. Is it realistic???”

Reply

No one has a definitive answer. My guess is that long before we “developed” processed foods, people got along fine without sugar, corn syrup, and most of the variants of refining sugars and flours along with most of the items you find in today’s supermarket. That said, I believe it may be dose dependent and would suggest someone would do better with long term “abstinence” from high glycemic foods. One can live (and eat) quite well without them.

Likewise, alcoholics and drug addicts do better abstaining than attempting “controlled” consumption. Consider the nature of the person (physiology and psychology) and the nature of the substance. Combining an addictive substance with an addictive person usually culminates in dependency.

Like the cocaine addict, the food addict over time may (or may not) replace or regenerate the D2 receptors (as well as replace depleted stores of dopamine) and therefore approach “normalcy” – However, this only affects the physical piece – what about the learned / conditioned / psychological dependency? Also, lowering tolerance may be the net effect – with the “addict” soon destroying the D2receptors yet again through repeated abuse. Most of the foods we consume today that are “problematic” did not exist 100 years ago. By the way, if I had a dollar for every recovering alcoholic or drug addict that said “you mean I can NEVER have a drink again”…. The issue is not that one can’t, but one day at a time one can make a choice. Anyway, the fact is one can attempt to reintegrate “trigger” foods and if, indeed, they relapse back into disordered eating then they have their answer. Problem is it can be insidious and take weeks or months until someone wakes up one morning and asks themselves how this happened again.

Hope this answers some of your question.

Marty Lerner, Ph.D.