Do you consider yourself to be a food addict? Maybe a sugar addict? I work with many clients who want to shed weight and self identify as addicted to sugar, junk foods, and more… Research by addiction psychiatrist Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has shed much-needed light on how food addiction develops.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, which offer high quality views of the brain, Volkow was able to show that when dopamine links to its receptor, called D2, immediate changes take place in your brain cells, causing you to experience a “hit” of pleasure and reward.
While just about any food can trigger pleasure, only the “hyperpalatables,” foods high in refined sugar, salt and fat, tend to lead to addiction when consumed regularly. The reason for this has to do with your body’s innate survival instinct.
The primary directive of your mind and body is survival, and it will go through some interesting adaptations when survival is threatened. When you indulge in too much of hyperstimulators, be it cocaine, sugar, alcohol or sex, your brain’s reward center notes that you’re overstimulated, which the brain perceives as not good for your survival, and so it compensates by decreasing your sense of pleasure and reward.
It does this by down-regulating your D2 receptors, basically eliminating some of them. But this survival strategy creates another problem, because now you don’t feel anywhere near the pleasure and reward you once had when you began your addiction, no matter whether it’s food or drugs.
As a result, you develop tolerance, which means that you want more and more of your fix but never achieve the same “high” you once had. All the while, the addictive cravings grow stronger. Volkow’s work also revealed that the changes taking place in the brains of drug addicts are identical to those occurring in people addicted to food.
Regardless of the source of the addiction, you see very little dopamine bonding with its D2 receptors in the brain, as their numbers have been drastically decreased due to continued exposure to the addictive substance/process. Importantly, Volkow also found that addiction affects your frontal cortex, often referred to as “the CEO of the brain.”
Your frontal cortex is in charge of impulse control, irritability, impatience, strategic planning and more — all the things that figuratively go out the window during withdrawal and addiction. This is why addicts feel so out of control, and why addiction is so difficult to break.
Early Trauma Primes Your Brain for Future Addiction
Experiencing abuse (e.g., physical, emotional, sexual), neglect or other trauma during the formative years of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood can also significantly affect your frontal cortex, thereby making you more susceptible to addiction.
Susan Mason, assistant professor at Harvard University, showed that women who had the highest levels of abuse during childhood had a 90 percent increased incidence of food addiction.
If you’re wondering whether you may have an issue with food and addiction, there is now a published and credentialed assessment you can take called the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Peeke provides a short and long version of this test in “The Hunger Fix.” She also has a quick and easy online food addiction test on her website.
How to Break Your Sugar Addiction
Some tools that can be used to break your food and / or sugar addiction is using hypnosis. Hypnosis works with the unconscious mind where all habits and emotions are stored. Overcoming food addiction requires something more than willpower. Yes, you heard that right, you DO NOT need willpower to overcome food addiction. You simply need to retrain your unconscious mind to support and release those automatic cravings. Hypnosis can help you do that.
Another tool that I use with my clients is called Emotion Code Energy Healing – Releasing the trapped emotions inside the body that is vibrating at a frequency and causing cravings for sugar, junk foods, bad carbs etc…Here is a video on releasing sugar addiction – http://lynnthier.com/2019/07/21/end-sugar-cravings/
I also test to see if (in the unconscious mind) its safe to lose weight, its ok to lose weight, there’s a belief you can lose it and keep it off! We can also release trapped emotions preventing you from meal planning, from eating more vegetables/fruits, from exercising!
To learn more about Hypnosis and Emotion Code Healing please visit my website, www.lynnthier.com
Lynn often combines Holistic Nutrition with Time Line Therapy(R) with Emotion Code Energy Healing and / Or Hypnosis!
To Your Health, Results and Success!