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I Bet You Can't Eat Just One

I have an excellent diet on a daily basis, no “white offenders” such as white flour, white sugar, white rice or white homogenized cow’s milk. However, over the last holiday season I ingested plenty of Christmas Cheer along with main course meals designed especially for the soul, a habit I could easily become accustomed to. But after the holidays were over, I found myself craving sweets and alcohol. Am I addicted?

To become addicted is to devote or surrender one’s self to something habitually or obsessively. The word addiction is derived from the Latin verb addicere meaning “to assign or give assent”. When we think of an addict, we usually think of someone who ‘gives in’ without restraint or who has lost self-control.

But addiction means more than just having a strong desire for something. Addiction is a negative thing. Initially, people become attracted to certain foods because they taste good and create a strong sensation of pleasure. But addiction is not pleasurable once the initial ‘high’ has passed. Addicted people don’t usually feel good when they’re “straight” and this negative state, coupled with continuous exposure to junk food and easy access, intensifies the “craving” for something to fix the problem. Since we have to eat to live, avoiding food isn’t an option. Also, the foods we crave and can’t “live without” are almost always the likely offenders, like bread (wheat) or coffee or cheese.

When you eat something made of white flour or sucrose (white table sugar) the carbohydrates from these foods enter the blood stream very quickly causing blood sugar and insulin to rise and then fall. When your blood sugar is high you feel good, you’re “high”. But when your blood sugar starts to drop, you feel “low”. That’s when you start to crave more sugar or a stimulant to give you a boost, like coffee or tobacco.

The rate at which carbohydrates enter the blood and their effect on insulin is defined by something called a “glycemic response”. Choosing foods with a lower glycemic response or glycemic index (whole grains, lentils, beans, many fruits & vegetables) can help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent the “highs” and “lows”. Adding a portion of protein to every meal, complete with essential fatty acids, also makes a big difference. Read labels, watch for the white offenders and see if you can stop for one week. Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behavior in children might be a clue to a food addiction/allergy/hypoglycemia problem.