Food Addiction and your Longevity

Copyright (c) 2007 Stephen Lau

Food addiction is a disease of the mind, affecting both physical and mental health. Food addiction is an enemy of longevity. All centenarians have a moderate diet.

Luigi Cornaro was one of the most celebrated centenarians, who lived from 1464 to 1566 AD. He was famous for his longevity wisdom on the art of living long related to calorie restriction. By his standard of daily consumption of only twelve ounces of solid foods and fourteen ounces pure grape juice, very few of us would become centenarians because many of us simply overeat.

Yes, we are living in a generation of food addiction.

So, what is food addiction?

Food addiction is an unhealthy relationship with food. This unhealthy eating behavior interferes with your health, happiness, relationship, and your life – food addiction is detrimental to your longevity.

But why are many of us addicted to food? Or, why do we overeat?

Well, you may overeat if you are not happy with your body. You don’t like how you look, so you use diet as a controlling factor to achieve your ideal body shape. You begin to addicted to certain types of food that you think may help you achieve your goals.

You may feel guilty about who and what you are, or something you have done. Your guilt precipitates in your food addiction.

You may feel lonely, unloved, or frustrated. This initiates your addiction to comfort foods.

You may be obsessed with fad diets to control your weight. Fluctuating between weight loss and weight gain may lead to your switching from one diet to another, and subsequently eating and avoiding certain foods. The imbalance in body and mind may tip you over to food addiction.

You may have emotional problems, which cause chemical imbalance of dopamine, a neurochemical responsible for regulating your appetite.

You may have too much stress in you life (but who doesn’t?). Your failure to cope with your stress may cause your serotonin (neurochemical) level to decline. In order to elevate its level, you body needs to eat, and you become addicted to food.

You may have genes predisposed you to food addiction, such as sharp sensory response to food. The sight and smell of food simply raises your level of dopamine.

You may have preference for certain types of food and drink, which induce addiction, thanks to those food manufacturers who have ingeniously ingested food flavorings, taste enhancers, and other emulsifiers into their products. Unknowingly, you become a victim of food addiction.

You may have set unrealistic expectations for yourself, and your inability to live up to those expectation lead to frustration, which is often a recipe for the development of food addiction.

You may have guilt about eating. Such imbalance in thinking and behavior often sets off a vicious circle of food addiction and eating disorder.

Food addiction is common, especially in the affluent western world, where there is always an array of foods to satisfy the most discriminating taste.

Food addiction is compulsive eating – that is, eating when you are not hungry.

Food addiction often leads to binge eating, which is eating large quantities of food, and often without remembering what one has eaten.

Food addiction is a complex mental disease. It is a reaction to your emotions, to your distorted thinking. If you have food addiction, you need to admit that you have the problem. Denial will only aggravate your food addiction problem.

You may have a food addiction problem if you have the following: eating too much and too often; eating at night; binging; vomiting; and food fixation (i.e. always planning what to eat next, anticipating eating).

Food addiction has everything to do with your mind. To control your mind, or to let your mind control you is the issue with food addiction. Your obsessive thoughts and behavior about food have very little to do with food; surprisingly, they have everything to do with “control.” Ironically, if you are addicted to food, you may strive to control your eating to compensate for the lack of control you may feel in other areas of your life.

(This is the first of a series of articles on “eating and longevity.”)

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