Surely, you may say, as long as it is RAW then it is HEALTHY!
Or you may think to yourself “as long as I eat raw, my body will be able to tell me how much to eat”
Alternatively, you may be thinking “surely, we must make sure we eat an abundance of healthy fats”
Unfortunately, a healthy raw diet is not as simple as “as long as it is raw it is healthy”
Especially as many foods are labeled “raw” but in reality they have been dried, processed or dehydrated in some way which has changed the nature of the food completely.
Have you ever eaten truly RAW nuts? They are not as moreish and hard to put down as those in a bag.
Let’s get back to diets in general.
When we look for clues as to how we should design our diet we could do much worse than looking at the diets of the “blue zones”. These are the areas in the world that are renowned for producing the highest proportion of centenarians (people who live to age 100 and older) and healthy older people per capita.
The researchers have looked at the similarities between these populations and have found a few things in common. When it comes to diet they all consume a mostly plant-based diet.
And what was also remarkable was that carbohydrates made up the vast majority of the diet, 70% and upwards for each population with no exceptions.
When we look into the science of nutrition and of sports performance we find that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source for fuel. Top athletes maintain a high carbohydrate diet when they wish to perform at there highest level.
But perhaps this equation is different for a raw diet?
The work of Dr Douglas Graham would suggest not. With over 35 years of experience working with people who were eating raw diets he often found that people were consuming as much as 60% or more of their diet from fat.
Often this was in the form of processed fat like oils, nut butters, seed spreads and tahini…which quickly add up to a LOT of calories as FAT is more than double the calories of carbohydrate sources.
Do we have long term studies on a high fat raw diet versus a low fat raw diet? Sadly not.
We have to assume the same rules apply regardless of whether the diet is raw or not. We should head towards a diet made primarily of fruit to make sure we will feel and perform our best on a raw diet.
Fruit provides us with the perfect balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that help us to feel and perform our best. But if we do not eat enough fruit to satisfy our caloric need we will inevitable start being hungry for almost anything else.
At that point, our cravings for fatty foods will become much more intense. But when we eat these foods we are left with a heavy feeling in our stomach and still no real sense of satisfaction
Fruit is truly where it is at for performance and health!
Have you seen all of the hullabaloo about when is the best time to eat?
Or how restricted your eating “window” should be?
Perhaps you should not eat in the morning, or not eat at night, or only eat when the sun is up?
There is a lot of confusion out there about when to eat but a lot of this comes back to problems created by how poorly most people eat.
Think about it:
If you are eating a BAD diet, of course you are better off restricting how much you eat!
It is probably best not to eat hard to digest, junk foods late at night as it could interrupt sleep.
But what about the healthiest foods?
As fruit is what our body is designed to digest it is very easy for our body to digest and takes very little energy compared to other foods. Fruit does not stay in our system for day after day continuing to rot and cause gas and other issues.
Should we be worried about restricting our eating window when it comes to fruit?
I had a friend who told me it was very bad to eat fruit after 6pm. What I have found over the years is that people share these ideas with often no evidence for why this is a bad thing apart from perhaps their own interpretation of their own personal experience.
What about not eating in the morning?
I don’t have any problems personally with eating fruit in the morning though I tend not to eat first thing. I think it is good to give your body a little time to wake up and also best to eat a little slower first thing.
If it works for you then do what works. But I would suggest not worrying too much about your eating window.
You are far more likely to under eat if you do this and under eating is already a big problem when it comes to a raw lifestyle.
How To Know You Are Eating ENOUGH On A Raw Vegan Diet
One of the most controversial questions in the raw vegan world is “how much should we eat on a raw vegan diet”?
There are a number of differing opinions on this topic so it can be very confusing for a beginner.
You may also wonder whether you can simply follow your body’s own hunger cues. Unfortunately, this can be confusing on a raw diet as the body responds differently to a raw diet than to a cooked diet.
In this message I hope to go over some of the issues surrounding this question and give, hopefully, some very common sense guidance.
First off, we can perhaps throw out some ideas. For example some people claim that we should eat a particular weight of food. So they recommend you eat 2 pounds of food per day as long as it is raw.
This is too vague an answer. Different foods vary a lot in terms of the level of nutrition and calories so it just doesn’t make sense to use weight as a reliable measurement. 2 pounds of nuts is a lot different to 2 pounds of lettuce.
The most reliable way to know if you are eating enough is to track your weight. If you are losing weight (and this is not your intention) then you know you need to eat more. If you are gaining weight (and it is not your intention) then it is a good indication you are eating too much.
But exactly what are we eating too much of?
The most accurate way to measure the value of food in terms of the energy that it provides us is to measure the calories in a food. Some people may suggest that this is different when it comes to a raw food diet but there is little reason for anyone to believe it is different. There is some debate as to how accurate this process is, but it is the most accurate method we have.
If we can work out how many calories we need to maintain our weight and stay healthy then we could work out how much food we require and translate this to what is available to us on a raw vegan diet.
A method for determining how many calories we require comes from Dr Doug Graham’s book, the 80/10/10 Diet.
He states that we first work out our Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the energy we use if we were just to sit in bed and do nothing all day. In the case of a 150 pound person, their BMR would be 1500 calories. We figure this out simply by multiplying the weight of the individual in pounds by 10.
Once we have done this we must add on how many calories we use up in our day to day activities and exercise.
To get a more accurate reading you can use the Harris- Benedict equation for working out BMR and then multiplying this by an activity factor.
The average for a woman is around 1800 calories and for a man is around 2500 (per day).
If we translate that to raw food we have a few options. We can certainly make up these calories easily by eating nuts,seeds or oils as these substances are very dense in calories (mostly from fat).
However, to maintain a raw vegan diet long term it is important to feel good. When we eat a high proportion of our calories as fat we reduce our body’s ability to supply nutrients such as oxygen and sugar to the blood cells as efficiently as possible.
The ideal ratio of macronutrients in our diet is signified by the 80/10/10 proportion. At least 80% of our calories should therefore come from carbohydrates.
This matches the ratio that is inherent in most fruits. This is one of the many reasons that basing our raw food diet on fruit rather than fat is a better option.
Therefore, we simply now have to look at how many calories we require on a daily basis and aim to get most of those from fruit with a smaller percentage gained from vegetables, nuts and seeds.
For example, a woman requiring 1800 calories per day could make up her diet with 18 bananas. This would roughly be what she would require.
If she preferred more variety she could have 8 bananas (800 calories) , 6 large mangoes (approx 800 calories) and a large salad with some avocado (approximately 200 calories).
Someone looking at these quantities of food may start to think that this is “too much”. They are reacting to the volume of the food. With raw food we must eat a greater volume of food to get the same calories as we did from cooked food.
If we do not, then we will struggle to maintain our weight and struggle to avoid the temptations of other foods. When you are satisfied from eating enough fruit you are much less likely to be tempted by less healthy foods.
BEWARE: Not eating ENOUGH is by far the biggest reason people struggle to feel good on this lifestyle long term or remain successful on it. It is also the reason we hear about “emaciated” raw vegans. Almost all of the time, people were simply not eating enough.
1. Calories: Work out your daily calorie needs.
2. Fruits: Become familiar with the amount of calories in all of the common fruits and other raw foods that you eat.
3. Eat Enough fruit to satisfy the majority of your calorie needs and make up the rest with vegetables, salads and nuts and seeds (at first this will seem like A LOT of food. You will get used to this over time and enjoy the real feeling of satisfaction that comes with this)
4.Track Your Weight to see if you are eating too little or too much.
That’s about it.
You may wonder why you need to put this work in. Surely, if this is a more “natural diet” then our body should tell us all we need to know?
The problem with this is we simply don’t live in our natural environment and we were not brought up on our best diet. We have not learned from experience how much we need to eat to feel good.
I hope this works out for you, you can get back to me if you have some thoughts of your own.
Have you ever heard of the term “Snake Oil Salesmen”?
It is a term that is broadly used to describe a con man selling a scam product. But the term has a real origin.
This concept originated in the US many years ago. It is said that Chinese immigrants had a salve made using snake oil that helped with aching joints. Whether this is true or not we can’t be sure.
But the idea of selling snake oil as a cure-all sprung from this story. Con men started to put on elaborate shows at fairs and markets to sell the product, sometimes involving a demonstration of how they killed the snake and added it to boiling water to extract the oil.
These elaborate sales presentations worked remarkably well and many people were bilked out of their hard earned cash to buy a worthless product that had never been found to be effective in curing anything.
Though snake oil is no longer sold, the same process is used to sell modern products that are just as ineffective.
There is a particular sales pitch that is as old as the hills and has worked for at least 100 years, if not longer. Using this style of presentation, numerous supplements, herbs, gimmicks and other ineffective solutions have been sold...and many people have become rich off the back of the ignorance of the audience.
This fraud was well known as far back as the 1960s and was documented in a film called “The Health Fraud” which was put together by the US department of health.
I came across this video on Youtube and could not believe what I saw. it showed examples of fraud in the health industry and what I was most amazed by was that the sales pitch used was almost exactly the same as things we still hear today.
The presentation starts by instilling fear in people. They will say:
– the food no longer has enough nutrition
– the soils are depleted
– the foods are full of chemicals and deadly pesticides
The insinuation is that a person’s bad health is not their fault. No, it is the fault of the farmer…the government…the scientists!
The only solution, is to consume supplements…and it just so happens I have some right here…..
(by the way, this is my personal youtube channel if you wish to subscribe to it)
What frustrates me, is that many people have bought into these ideas. They have heard them so often that they assume that there is truth to these statements.
But what is the reality around the level of nutrition in our food?
Luckily, the government conducts ongoing surveys to make sure the nutrient content of the food we are eating is not changing significantly. Here is what a recent report has to say:
“These results are broadly similar to existing data held. There is no evidence of major changes in the nutrient content of fruit and vegetables based on this survey and any changes are unlikely to be nutritionally significant in a varied diet”
– Nutrient Analysis Of Fruit and Vegetables: Summary Report, Department of Health (UK)
So when we hear someone telling us that the food we eat no longer has enough nutrition, first check out whether they are looking to sell supplements or nutrient testing services.
The truth is there is very little need to have fear about the nutrition you are getting when eating fruits and vegetables. You are eating the best and healthiest foods it is possible to consume.
And thanks to the modern day food supply, diseases of deficiency have basically vanished.
If you do suspect you have a deficiency, it is best to seek help from a doctor who will be able to arrange the required testing for you. This is important as your deficiency may not be to do with the food you eat but could represent something else going on in your body.
A raw food guru would not be able to tell you that. But some will have some superfoods or a herbal remedy to sell you.
If you are looking for those products or testing, UK Fruitfest is unable to help you. But if you are looking for world class education provided by the most well known and respected raw food leaders, food provided by the best raw vegan chef in the world and an amazing community of people to share it with, we have the event for you.
If you want to join us, the best time to register is now. A price hike is coming very soon.
In this episode of the Love Fruit podcast we are joined by the Raw Viking, Rob Rehmark.
Rob has been on a vegan and raw vegan diet for many years and made his transition through following his own path. He has attended many fruit festivals around the world and inspired others with his videos on his Raw Viking page.
He now intends on moving to Ecuador to build his own fruitful paradise. I think you will enjoy this episode and Rob’s ideas a lot.
There is no doubt that one of the most controversial questions in the raw food world is whether cooked food is addictive or not.
Most people who eat a 100% raw diet, or close to that, usually admit that they believe that cooked food (and even some raw foods) are addictive in the same way that other substances can be. They talk openly about their struggles with giving up cooked food. Many struggled for a long time before finally getting on a 100% raw path long term. Often, they will not eat any cooked food as they know that it will lead them back to eating a lot of cooked food again.
However, many other people laugh at the notion that cooked food is addictive. They may counter that if bread is addictive then fruit is addictive too. That we have a drive to eat and that their preference for keeping cooked food in their diet is nothing to do with addiction but instead it is a choice they are making.
Of course, it is impossible to really assess this properly by just taking stories and personal experiences into account. What does and examination of the research around this topic suggest?
Let’s take a look in this article and see what conclusions we can come to.
What is the definition of Addicted?
So that we start off on the right foot. Let’s be clear on what addiction actually means. Here are some definitions:
Dictionary.com, Oxford Dictionary
– physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance.
– having a compulsive physiological need for a habit forming substance (such as a drug)
Wikipedia (American Society of Addiction Medicine, and Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD* )
– Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences
We can also talk about addiction in an informal way. A person can be “addicted” to going to the gym, or “addicted” to running but these are more informal ways of using the word not intended to actually suggest the person has a true addiction.
So is food truly addictive like a drug or is it more likely that we simply love eating and are enthusiastic about anything we eat to the point of it looking like an addiction?
Can Food Be Addictive?
We commonly talk about people being addicted to food. We use words like “chocoholic”. Even in advertising we hear phrases like “once you pop, you just can’t stop”. Let’s look further into this:
Some researchers suggest that food is not addictive, the act of eating is addictive
This article, VIEW HERE, suggests that food is NOT addictive:
“Food is not addictive … but eating is: Gorging is psychological compulsion, say experts,” the Mail Online reports. The news follows an article in which scientists argue that – unlike drug addiction – there is little evidence that people become addicted to the substances in certain foods.
Researchers argue that instead of thinking of certain types of food as addictive, it would be more useful to talk of a behavioural addiction to the process of eating and the “reward” associated with it.”
It is clear that not all scientists agree with the notion that food is addictive. But when we look further into this it seems like the evidence in favour of the idea of food addiction is overwhelming.
Some Of The Largest Reference Websites In The World Support The Theory Of Food Addiction: WebMD, Healthline, Wikipedia
WebMD on Food Addictions
Full article: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/mental-health-food-addiction#1
Researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy have developed a questionnaire to identify people with food addictions. Here’s a sample of questions that can help determine if you have a food addiction. Do these actions apply to you? Do you:
End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods
Keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry
Eat to the point of feeling ill
Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods
When certain foods aren’t available, go out of your way to obtain them
The questionnaire also asks about the impact of your relationship with food on your personal life. Ask yourself if these situations apply to you:
You eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities.
You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
You have problems functioning effectively at your job or school because of food and eating.”
Full article: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-overcome-food-addiction#section1
“The truth is… the effects of certain foods on the brain can lead to downright addiction.
Food addiction is a very serious problem and one of the main reasons some people just can’t control themselves around certain foods, no matter how hard they try.
What Is Food Addiction?
Food addiction is, quite simply, being addicted to junk food in the same way as drug addicts are addicted to drugs.
It involves the same areas in the brain, the same neurotransmitters and many of the symptoms are identical (1).
Food addiction is a relatively new (and controversial) term and there are no good statistics available on how common it is.
How This Works
Processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the “reward” centers in the brain, involving brain neurotransmitters like dopamine (2). The foods that seem to be the most problematic include typical “junk foods,” as well as foods that contain either sugar or wheat, or both.
Food addiction is not about a lack of willpower or anything like that, it is caused by the intense dopamine signal “hijacking” the biochemistry of the brain . There are many studies that support the fact that food addiction is a real problem.”
Addiction And Eating Disorder Sites
What do organisations involved in treating addiction have to say about food addiction?
“However, for many individuals, food can become as addictive as drugs are to a substance abuser.”
Food addiction can be recognizable by numerous signs and symptoms. The following are possible symptoms of food addiction:
1. Gorging in more food than one can physically tolerate
2. Eating to the point of feeling ill
3. Going out of your way to obtain certain foods
4. Continuing to eat certain foods even if no longer hungry
5. Eating in secret, isolation
6. Avoiding social interactions, relationships, or functions to spend time eating certain foods.
7. Difficulty function in a career or job due to decreased efficiency
8. Spending significant amount of money on buying certain foods for bingeing purposes
9. Decreased energy, chronic fatigue
10. Difficulty concentrating
11. Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or oversleeping
15. Digestive disorders
16. Suicidal ideations
Binge eating disorder is a medically recognised disorder that is characterised by excessive eating over long periods of time.
A person who suffers from the disorder will typically demonstrate the following symptoms:
1. Compulsions to eat when not physically hungry
2. Routinely eating past the point of feeling full
3. Routinely eating more quickly than others
4. A tendency to try and keep eating habits a secret
5. Feelings of guilt after eating episodes
6. Persistent feelings that one is abnormal
7. Persistent feelings that food is taking over one’s life
8. Routinely attempting to compensate for overeating through dieting or purging.
There is no doubt that food addiction is a serious problem that can lead to physical and mental issues. Not treating the addiction only makes matters worse. A person who is struggling with food to any extent, whether through bingeing or compulsive eating, needs to seek out treatment right away.
How Food Addiction Is Treated
Although food addiction, as exemplified by conditions such as binge eating syndrome and compulsive eating, does share many similarities with other kinds of addictions, it has one characteristic that makes it unique: human beings cannot live without food. We can live without drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and so many other things; stop eating and you will die of starvation. Therefore, abstinence is not a cure.
The goal of food addiction treatment is to identify what causes compulsive thoughts and behaviours so that these can be managed. Some of the more common triggers of food addiction are:
underlying emotional stress
more and stronger cravings for food
a need for comfort that only food can provide
an inability to say no to food when entertaining or being entertained.
Articles In The Media
The Guardian- Food Addiction: Does It Really Exist?
About a decade ago, a group of American psychiatrists studying obesity decided to look into whether some people’s anecdotal claims of food addiction could be proven. They devised a series of studies in which rats were offered highly palatable sugary or fatty food (they had the option of their regular healthy food, too, but that didn’t get a look-in).
Nicole Avena was one of the researchers: “We found signs of tolerance, withdrawal, craving and measurable changes in neural chemicals such as dopamine and opioid release,” she says. In short, it looked very much as though the animals were addicted to a drug, even tolerating “foot shock” (running over an electric grid) to get their fix.
There have been surveys on the foods people say they find addictive. Many of the human studies into food addiction have been based around the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a questionnaire used to determine whether someone could be classified as a food addict. One of its questions is about which foods the subject finds most problematic, and Ashley Gearhardt, the co-creator of the scale, has shared the top 10 nasties.
Top 10 Most Addictive Foods
From 10 to 1 in a survey these were found to the foods people perceived as most addictive:
– White Bread, Donuts, Pasta, Cake, Cookies, Chocolate, French Fries, Candy, Ice Cream
Notice that all of these foods are cooked or processed foods. Most have either additional sugar, salt or oil making these foods highly palatable.
What constitutes addiction anyway?
“This is a subject of ongoing debate. Avena and colleagues used the diagnosis criteria in the standard American guide for psychiatrists, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This stipulates that three of the following must have applied to an individual over the past year to qualify them as addicts:
• The substance is often taken in larger amounts than intended.
• A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down substance use.
• A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance.
• Important activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.
• Substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.”
The Extraordinary Science Of Addictive Eating – New York Times
This article talks more about the things that food companies are doing to make foods more addictive to consumers. This is includes creating flavours that hit the ideal “bliss point” but without being so focused on one flavour that the brain is triggered to stop eating.
Moskowitz’s path to mastering the bliss point began in earnest not at Harvard but a few months after graduation, 16 miles from Cambridge, in the town of Natick, where the U.S. Army hired him to work in its research labs. The military has long been in a peculiar bind when it comes to food: how to get soldiers to eat more rations when they are in the field. They know that over time, soldiers would gradually find their meals-ready-to-eat so boring that they would toss them away, half-eaten, and not get all the calories they needed. But what was causing this M.R.E.-fatigue was a mystery.
“So I started asking soldiers how frequently they would like to eat this or that, trying to figure out which products they would find boring,” Moskowitz said. The answers he got were inconsistent. “They liked flavorful foods like turkey tetrazzini, but only at first; they quickly grew tired of them. On the other hand, mundane foods like white bread would never get them too excited, but they could eat lots and lots of it without feeling they’d had enough.”
This contradiction is known as “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating.
Wikipedia- Article: FOOD ADDICTION
As we have seen, Wikipedia can often be innacurate with it’s information or biased. We always must use it as just one source and not the be all and end all. The sources used in this article seem to be very strong which is why we share it here:
“Food addiction” refers to compulsive overeaters who engage in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating (binge eating). The term binge eating means eating an unhealthy amount of food while feeling that one’s sense of control has been lost. People who engage in binge eating may feel frenzied, and consume a large number of calories before stopping. Food binges may be followed by feelings of guilt and depression; for example, some will cancel their plans for the next day because they “feel fat.” Binge eating also has implications on physical health, due to excessive intake of fats and sugars, which can cause numerous health problems.
Can Fruits And Vegetables Be Addictive?
It appears that we are pulling together evidence to show that food can be addictive. When we look closer into that we see that the foods that are found to be addictive are exclusively processed and cooked foods. But are fruits and vegetables also addictive?
Researchers at the University of Michigan studied addictive-like eating in 518 participants . They used the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) as a reference. This is the most commonly used tool to assess food addiction. All participants got a list of 35 foods, both processed and unprocessed.
They rated how likely they were to experience problems with each of the 35 foods, on a scale from 1 (not at all addictive) to 7 (extremely addictive). In this study, 7–10% of participants were diagnosed with full-blown food addiction.
What’s more, 92% of participants had addictive-like eating behavior towards some foods. They repeatedly had the desire to quit eating them, but were unable to. Below, you’ll see the results about which foods were the most and least addictive.
Once again we see a strong showing for cooked and processed foods. Animal products are among the most addictive also. However, we see no sign of fruit or vegetables in the most addictive group.
17 Least Addictive
Cucumbers (1.53), Carrots (1.60), Beans (no sauce) (1.63), Apples (1.66), Brown rice (1.74), Broccoli (1.74), Bananas (1.77)
Salmon (1.84), Corn (no butter or salt) (1.87), Strawberries (1.88), Granola bar (1.93), Water (1.94), Crackers (plain) (2.07)
Pretzels (2.13), Chicken breast (2.16), Eggs (2.18), Nuts (2.47)
We see clearly that the raw fruits and vegetables are all in the top 10 least addictive foods. The results here are a little confusing however. Water, for example, is showing as more addictive than crackers or pretzels! Some whole foods that are usually cooked are showing in the top 10 least addictive also. Salmon is showing as less addictive than Strawberries!
Broadly, the pattern we see here is that the raw fruits and vegetables are among the least addictive foods. Of the most addictive foods, cooked and processed foods make up the entire list.
The Opinions Of Vegan Doctors
Many vegans and raw vegans respect the advice of some of the well known vegan doctors. Whether these doctors can be truly said to be experts in nutrition is debatable but their opinion is influential in vegan circles. What do they have to say?
Dr Joel Kahn
Dr Joel Kahn is a cardiologist from the USA. Known as “America’s Healthy Heart Doc” he has been treating patients with a plant based diet for many years. In this article he wrote about animal products, sugar and fat as being addictive but also believe that wheat and rice have addictive properties:
6 Foods That Behave Like Addictive Drugs In Your Body
“Dairy– No food group has been studied more for opioid activity than dairy, particularly milk and cheese. The protein in dairy, casein, is digested into smaller peptides and there are a family of active agents called casomorphins. The desire for cheese can be blocked by the same medicines used to reverse drug overdoses in emergency rooms!
Meat- The blood in meat contains albumin, hemoglobin and gamma globulin and all of these chemicals activate opioid receptors. When meat eaters were treated with a drug used to block opiate receptors, ham consumption fell by 10%, salami by 25% and tuna by 50%!
Wheat and rice– Gliadin is a protein in wheat that has opiate activity and is sometimes referred to as gliadorphin. There is also a protein in rice that produces similar effects. If you can’t stop reaching for the bread bowl, it’s most likely because of this feel-good chemical trap.
Sugar and fat- Headlines worldwide last fall reported on a study in rats showing a preference for Oreo cookies, used for their high sugar and fat content, that was similar to providing the rats cocaine and morphine. Actually, prior studies in humans had already shown the opioid like effects of mixing sugar and fat (think: donut) that could be reversed with narcotic blockers.
Dr Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org)
Many vegans look to Dr Michael Greger as the font of all wisdom when it comes to what is healthy to eat. In a number of articles he has confronted the idea of food addiction:
“Evidence from PET scans suggests brain activity changes from the overconsumption of sugar may parallel that of drug addiction. Diminished “pleasure center” dopamine pathway sensitivity in obese individuals may be analogous to that found in cocaine addicts and alcoholics.”
Circuits In Human Obesity and Addiction
“A reduction in dopamine receptors is associated with addictive behaviour irrespective of whether it is due to food or to addictive drugs. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter primarily involved in the pleasure and reward centre in our brain helping to motivate our drive for things like food, water and sex.
It was healthy and adaptive for our primate brains to drive us to eat that banana when there wasn’t much food around but now (with modern processed foods) this adaptation has become a dangerous liability.”
“People who regularly eat ice cream—sugar and fat—have a deadened dopamine response in their brains to drinking a milkshake. It’s like when drug abusers have to use more and more to get the same high. “Frequent [ice cream] consumption…is related to a reduction in reward-region responsivity in humans”—they’re talking about the pleasure center—”paralleling the tolerance observed in drug addiction.” Once we’ve so dulled our dopamine response, we may subsequently overeat “in an effort to achieve the degree of satisfaction experienced previously, which contributes to unhealthy weight gain.”
Consumption of a calorie-dense diet compared to the same number calories in a calorie-dilute diet leads to that numbing of the dopamine response. It’s like the difference between cocaine and crack. Same stuff chemically, but by smoking crack cocaine, we can deliver a higher dose quicker to our brain.
Rather than taking drugs, though, we can prevent the deadening of our pleasure center in the first place by sticking to foods that are naturally calorically dilute—like whole plant foods. This can help bring back our dopamine sensitivity, such that we can again derive the same pleasure from the simplest of foods.
Dr Neal Barnard
Dr Neal Barnard is known for his work with the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and also his book on reversing diabetes with a plant based diet. He has written a book on addictive foods:
Breaking The Food Seduction
In this book he claims that sugar, chocolate, meat and cheese release opiates in the brain. You can view a presenation on this below:
PCRM addictive foods
Sugar, chocolate, and meat trigger the release of opiates within the brain. Researchers have proven that foods have opiate effects by using an opiate-blocking medicine called naloxone. Cheese produces mild opiates called casomorphins, as it digests.
These drug-like effects of foods help explain why we get “hooked” on some foods and not others.
Certain good habits help us reduce the lure of “addicting” foods. Having a healthy breakfast, getting plenty of sleep, physical exercise, and other steps can really help.
From these examples, we can see that these respected vegan physicians believe that food addiction is a real issue. They suggest sticking to whole foods which are less addictive. Obviously, fruits and vegetables are a part of that. Joel Kahn goes a step forward and offers evidence to show that even cooked whole foods like wheat and rice can be addictive.
1. The science tends to suggest that Food Addiction is a real concern
2. The consumption of certain foods can trigger the brain’s reward centres in an unhealthy way leading to an addiction to that food.
3. The most addictive foods tend to be processed and cooked foods, often with the addition of salt, sugar and oil
4. Fruits and vegetables tend to be rated among the least addictive foods.
The Symptoms Of Food Addiction
Though the science on which foods are addictive is not fully settled we can look at our own behaviour to see if we have the symptoms of food addiction. If you have experienced any of the following symptoms you may have a food addiction:
1. End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods
2. Keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry or eat to the point of feeling ill
3. When certain foods aren’t available, go out of your way to obtain them
4. You eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities.
5. You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
6. You have problems functioning effectively at your job or school because of food and eating.
7. Routinely eating more quickly than others
8. A tendency to try and keep eating habits a secret
9. Feelings of guilt after eating episodes
10. Routinely attempting to compensate for overeating through dieting or purging.
11. When you give in and start eating a food you were craving, you often find yourself eating much more than you intended to.
12. You sometimes make excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you are craving