Dependancy: the darker side of food craving, or… is it?


Intense food craving are incredibly common. Then chances are you too probably have one sometimes. Yet most people do not consider food craving as being something dangerous, aside from an occasional feeling of guilt about a little bit more weight about the waistline. Food cravings aren't in the same department as substance abuse. Or are they?

Addiction is frequently described as a compulsive physiological and psychological desire for a habit-forming substance, even in the light of harmful consequences of its use. It is frequently coupled with the presence of withdrawal symptoms, which could include nervousness and unstable or negative moods. All people recognizes this definition when it is applied to drugs. Interestingly, at least some aspects of it are located in relation to food cravings.

Addictive nature of food cravings

Urge for food for food may be of two different sorts: coming from the stomach, and while it began with the mind. The very first type involves a realistic feeling of hunger, the stomach sending signal towards the brain, requiring a new portion of nutrients. With this scenario it usually does not matter which meals are consumed, it's the fact of intake itself that means something. The other type of appetite works on the very different physiological mechanism, one that is closely related to the 3 regions of the mind that a responsible for pleasure rewards. It is primarily the second type that's usually denoted with the term "food craving", and not the first one.

The mentioned three brain areas, namely hippocampus, insula and caudate, are involved in the same circuitry as drug-induced gratifications. Like cocaine, for example. Basically, food cravings usually are not related to real nutritional needs physiologically; instead they may be triggered by depressed emotional states. The sensation of food induced satisfaction comes from a discharge of opiate family hormones (such as dopamine or serotonin), a brain areas involved in that process have been "spotted" as being active within the substance abuse related studies. Lastly, the potential physical harm in the form of obesity and an array of associated diseases is obvious as well. A pretty grim picture, you'd say, however think about the withdrawal effects? There cannot be an addiction without them, right?

Obviously, you would not notice any withdrawal from a piece of chocolate, however for some people the situation is a lot more serious. People suffering from conditions including binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, often manifest the symptoms of withdrawal, much like those common to drug users. This really is yet another parallel between compulsive eating and drug abuse the modern medicine draws.

The counter-argument: not every pleasure is addiction

Although the similarity in physiological and psychological mechanisms is great, the vast majority of food craving cases does not deserve the label of the addictive behaviour. In spite of all the commonality, some variations in neurotransmitter use incited by drugs and intense food compulsion have been demonstrated. Also, it isn't the discharge of pleasure hormones as such that identifies the addiction. Pleasure rewards associated with dopamine release happen in the course of quite many regular activities, from playing a beautiful bit of music to a passionate nights making love. These are generally pleasures, not addictions.

The key element that distinguishes between addictive and pleasurable behaviour could be the degree of control and awareness. In case you remember, the first meaning of addiction included the word "compulsive". Gratification and joy are important aspects of life, and really should not be avoided, provided that it is you who regulates the desire for pleasure, rather than the other way round. Nonetheless, the storyline sketched above is essential in concentrating our attention to the thin line between normality and compulsion in certain eating behaviours. And while under regular conditions food craving really should not be a matter of extreme concern, they still are to be managed at least to a degree.

Some degree of control may be had with a sensible, balanced diet. Natural Health products can also assist with certain types of food cravings. The product AppleSlim Xtra, comprising apples and other natural fruits and vegetables has been shown to be of some help in this matter.

Daniel Miller - About the Author:

Daniel Miller lives in the UK and is a nutritionist and a consultant in natural health. He is a very healthy 60 year old and lives by the sea with his wife and very big dog.

Read more:

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree