Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Becoming overweight - Food Addiction 101

As I was doing some light reading on the NIH (National Institute of Health) website.  (laugh, you know that was funny!)  I came across a Symposium Synopsis that was published in 2009 as to whether or not a person could become physically addicted to foods that are high in fat and sugar content.

Since food is not a illicit or illegal drug, they call food addiction a pervasive addiction as they try to figure out if overeating or eating bad foods is an actual behavioral problem or one that affects your neurons, as cocaine or heroin do.

You need to understand what an addiction actually is.  According to the NIH an addiction or dependency must meet 4 of the 7 following conditions:

1. Tolerance (more drug is needed for the same effect). (One piece is great, a dozen is even better)
2. Withdrawal. (Getting pissed or doing anything for a piece of chocolate, pizza or whatever floats your boat?)
3. Taking a larger amount of the substance or taking the substance for a longer period than was intended. (hmmm second helping of cake, maybe even a 3rd)
4. Experiencing a persistent desire for the substance or an inability to reduce or control its use. (sugar cravings or junk food cravings)
5. Spending much time seeking or consuming the substance or recovering from its effects. (I call this binge and barf)
6. Use of the substance interfering with important activities. (like never leaving the house or giving up things you once loved to do!)
7. Use of the substance continuing despite known adverse consequences. (knowing you are going to gain 5lbs from eating that hole entenmann's cake but doing it anyway?)

If #1 or #2 criteria are met, then the addiction is physiological, meaning that you are physically addicted to the substance, such as a heroin addiction. However, according to the NIH doctors, even if you do not meet the #1 or #2 criteria you can still be behaviorally addicted, which is where what we call "Food Addiction" falls most of the time.

I can not speak for anyone else, but I can tell you about my personal challenges, I have suffered from 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 at different times in my life. I suppose too that I suffered from #1 and 2, since I just kept eating more and more and more until I was stuck inside a 350lb body and basically suffocating myself!

Recently there have been other reports from the medical field that validate my point. Food addiction is real and there are a number of valid reasons that a person would eventually obtain this mental illness. I feel that at some point it becomes a vicious circle of eating, crying, eating, guilt, eating, sadness. It's almost like a carousel that you just can not jump off of. Maybe the underlying cause is depression? I don't know. I have never considered myself depressed though, but mental issues have a way of surfacing in the oddest ways.

Even though an estimated 34.9% of American adults are obese and 68.6% are considered obese or overweight. Insurance companies refuse to help them, because the science technically is still out on the subject (just like global warming), but they have no problem treating the symptoms and illnesses that come with being obese. I guess there is no money in curing someone. But there is a shit load of bucks in pharmaceuticals and co-pays!

Only recently has Bariatric Surgery become the standard for treating people who are obese or morbidly obese (I really hate that phrase). Most insurance companies still consider this life saving surgery no more than a nose job or botox injections, saying it falls under the category of elective and cosmetic surgeries. WTF is elective about wanting to live without shooting 200 units of insulin a day and having to take a fist full of pills and STILL spiraling health wise out of control?

While I realize that Bariatric Surgery is not for everyone. I knew my only and last option was to remove what could never be satisfied and that was my stomach. When I finally had the ability and financial resources to be able to do it, and the health insurance plan that would pay for most of it. I jumped on it.

Today I can say, a year and a half after surgery and 130 lbs down (and holding!) That I just wish anyone with this problem could do what I did. It really is life changing. I no longer have to give myself needles 3 times a day. All of my medications have been lowered substantially and I am hoping in the next few months I will be off of most of them. I am no longer plagued with a waking BS level of 210...it's actually in the 90s now, most of the time.

I have learned much going through this process. I have learned how to eat in moderation. I have learned that just because I want it, doesnt mean I should eat it. I have learned that sugar is NOT my friend and to treat it as such. I have also learned to experiment with different foods because anyone with a tiny stomach will tell you, some things you just cant eat anymore! But that's ok with me.

Be Kind to Yourself,

Peace out