Eating Disorders are a serious business, recent research from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has thrown up some interesting theories. Food addiction isn’t a new phenomenon, we have known for many years that eating or indeed not eating is an addiction many of us fall prey to in our lives. Recent research however has been looking at the similarities in habituation/tolerance to food exposure and substance addiction with some interesting theories to consider.
It’s a known fact that certain foods can trigger chemicals in the brain that are the same as those chemicals triggered when someone is addicted to drugs. It’s very possible because of this that food itself and sometimes the lack of it can create habituation/tolerance in just the same way a drug addict becomes tolerant to a regularly used drug and therefore needs more of it in order to obtain the same satisfactory high.
It’s thought with food if someone prone to this addiction were to be fed the same foods day in day out, unlike a non-addicted person who would soon become bored and fed up of the foods, the addicted persons trigger system being out of whack and not responding as rapidly as it should, would simply encourage the person to continue to eat.
The study appears to show that serving the same foods every day to someone on a calorie reduced diet could well be a good way to tackle obesity as those people will most certainly choose to eat less, becoming bored with their meal quicker and gaining little pleasure from the process. On the flip side a variety in foods is likely to increase calorie consumption as temptation to try a bit of everything is strong and more food will be consumed.
Obviously health has to be taken into consideration and anyone on a long term diet could not live on the same foods day in day out forever so how to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet whilst losing weight becomes a problem in this scenario.
The addiction part of the report suggests that those people who become addicted to food have far less sensitive habituation/tolerance responses than the majority of people and thus they require additional food in order to trigger it and achieve satisfaction and eventual disinterest. Right now this is speculation and there is no hard evidence or enough study to back up the theory and very little is still known about exactly what patterns of food exposure are strongest in triggering habituation/tolerance.
The bottom line though is that eating disorders are serious, and in some cases can be fatal. However eating disorder recovery is achievable and with appropriate treatment the prognosis for a life with a healthy attitude to food is possible.
We believe this is a subject worth keeping an eye on and we will be following the research carefully and reporting back any finding as they occur here. For those of you interested in reading the original report it can be found by clicking here