Saturday, November 16, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #1

As I sit here on this lovely, sunny Saturday morning with my large bowl of oatmeal (making enough for just one is hard) and my homemade cappuccino I I reflect on this past week and ask myself;

What made you angry?

You know, so angry that I wanted grab my little soapbox and get on up and speak to the masses. One thing comes to mind and it's a topic that allows me to kill two birds with one stone. It didn't make me angry per say, but it is an interesting debate. So, without further ado...

*grabs my little soapbox*

Food Addiction does not exist. Every time you say "I love chocolate so much. Seriously, I'm addicted." or justify your eating habits with the simple statement of "I'm addicted." you're wrong. Food addiction isn't real. And here's why.

A hallmark of addiction is dependence. While I'm very well aware of the fact that we all depend on food to live, someone who claims to be "addicted" to a particular kind of food does not need that food to function. I love chocolate. I love it a lot. But I can goes days without eating any without noticing. Another hallmark feature of addiction is the feeling of a loss of control. This one kind of goes hand in hand with dependence. At some point, the substance of abuse will start to run your life; you will no longer have control over dose amount. The only case where this feeling has been reported is in bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. Both of which are already classified as eating disorders. And finally, there is no evidence that withdrawal from a specific food causes any withdraw symptoms. You don't get headaches, the shakes, vomiting, etc. when you stop eating chocolate or sugar or fat.

Now, that's something that has always bothered me. No one says, "I'm addicted to brussel sprouts." The only foods people tend to say they are addicted to have a high sugar and fat content. Evolutionary wise, we are programmed to crave foods that are high in sugar and fat and to find them rewarding when eaten. Why? Because food was not as readily available as it is now. There were no supermarkets. People had to work for their food and sometimes, there wasn't nearly enough to go around. Foods that are high in sugar and fat came around very rarely and when they did it was a good idea to eat them because you were never too sure when your next meal would come around. So, in a survival setting, it's good thing that we find these food rewarding.

This brings me to my next point. I don't believe that food addiction is real because addiction is a fairly serious neurological disorder and I don't think that throwing the term around willy nilly is safe or a good idea. But in the long run, people use the term to excuse over eating and explain the obesity 'epidemic'. And to be honest, it doesn't matter. Using the excuse, "I'm addicted, that's why I over eat." is as bad as saying, "I have big bones."

Now, I may have absolutely no place in this conversation being the teeny tiny person that I am, but even if food addiction exists it doesn't fully explain why the rates of obesity have been growing in recent years. I said above that our bodies are programmed to want foods that are high in sugar and fat because eating those foods would help our bodies in times of food scarcity. But we don't have food scarcity anymore (seriously we don't; in recent years there has never been a time where enough food for everyone has not been produced...but that's another soapbox). Food, not just highly palatable food, is available everywhere at any time in developed countries for absolutely no work.

So, our bodies are programmed to want these highly palatable foods but they are not programmed to be able to handle the amount of them we are eating because they were originally meant to be rare treats. We also don't have to go out there and burn calories to get our food anymore. We don't have to hunt, to go out and gather, to farm. So instead of burning calories to get calories, we as a society are just getting calories.

For me, "food addiction" is just a simple way to explain and justify over eating when we have no real proof of the existence of food "addiction".

*steps off of soapbox*

That's my soapbox for today. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just saying that there isn't nearly enough evidence to classify food as an addiction and I think it makes light of "real" addictions to just throw around the word. Actually, it does make me angry. But again, I'm no expert so don't believe me if you don't want to or let me know your opinion. I'm just someone who is learning about this in a University course so it's very possible that I'm wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment