Is there such a thing as food addiction?

Having just attended a food addiction symposium, the evidence says YES, food addiction is alive and kicking.  In fact it is believed amongst experts that over 50% of obese people have a food addiction and that sugar is at least as addictive as coccaine! Food addicts spoke out at the symposium, reporting lives dominated by an insatiable drive to eat and stating how relieved they were to realise they are not alone in their plight and that their overeating is not gluttony (as many believe) but a valid addiction.  There are still many non-believers however – their view is that since we have to eat to live, food cannot be considered an addictive substance.  But they only need to look at the way our food supply has changed over the past 50 years – real foods like fruit, vegetables etc increasingly sidelined by products that simulate food; products that are manufactured and would never exist naturally. “Foods” with hyperpalatable combinations of sugar, fat and salt are carefully engineered to hijack the brain in a way that overrides willpower, judgement and personal responsibility and it is these “foods” that are the key culprits when it comes to addiction.
Dr Doug Sellman, an expert in addiction says that “behind every addiction is an engineered moreish product” Think alcohol, tobacco and soft drinks and you can see what he means.  And what is behind engineered moreish products….big companies driven by profit! Continue reading

Snacks – do they look after our health and weight?

A muffin or slice with a milky drink can provide 1/4 the kilojoules you need each day!

Do you regularly snack or graze? Are you driven by hunger, boredom, habit or the belief that the body needs a constant supply of food? Whatever the reason, the reality is that in most cases snacking works against our health and weight.
Snacking is almost a given these days. The 3 meal a day pattern (with little in between) is threatened as a profit driven and growing food industry needs us to eat more and more. Psuedo science tells us we need to drip feed ourselves with food, just as it tells us we need to do with water, where people cling limpet-like to their water bottles, fearful that letting go will cause instant dehydration. Continue reading

Nigella and Jamie get the thumbs down…

A study just published in the British Medical Journal compared recipes from Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver to ready-to-go meals from British supermarkets.  You will probably guess what came up trumps. As Niki Bezzant, editor of the Healthy Food Guide pointed out when interviewed about this, it would be surprising if anyone was surprised by  these results! Continue reading

Conference dinner staggers!

I recently attended the Australian and NZ obesity conference -  the desserts table from the conference dinner was a sight to behold (photo below). This was after a meal of steak with a very small portion of vegetables!  Given that one of the key messages of the conference was that limiting variety of energy dense foods is a good way to reduce kilojoule intake, it seemed a strange menu design.  
The conference messages would have been better reinforced by a large self service table of vegetables/salad and a small delicious plated dessert.  The sad thing is that very few of the conference delegates appeared to see the irony as they heartly tucked in to their oversized portions!

Morbidly obese fish???

I was intrigued by this photo in the weekend’s Press of what is thought to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) trout in the world. This mega-fish grew to a whopping 39.7 lbs, by living under the salmon cages in the upper Waitaki hydro canals.  The salmon food drifts down through the cages giving the fish an endless supply of processed food that it barely has to flip a fin to devour.
Anyone that says obesity is about “personal responsibility” has blinkers on.  Given the developed world’s overabundance of easy-access, energy-dense foods and technology that makes activity almost redundant, it is not surprising obesity rates are soaring.  It appears we are no different to fish when it comes to taking “personal responsibility” in environments that make healthy choices the less available and less attractive.  Why would the fish battle the currents and competition to find food when a ready supply requiring no work to find is there for the taking?  Human nature is the same – like fish we have to swim against the tide if we are to remain healthy in our current environment!

Everything in moderation – is this the key to health and a healthy weight?

How often do we hear the following phrase “there are no good or bad foods – its everything in moderation”?  It is routinely used by people defending unhealthy food choices or from fast food companies feeling threatened.     I personally hate the word “moderation”when applied to food; it means nothing really and is so often used to stifle rational debate about food and nutrition.

So what is “moderation”? Continue reading

Food diaries – why they are so helpful for weight loss

Are you a snacker, grazer or 3 meal a day person?  Do you skip breakfast, have little lunch then feast all evening because you are starving or “because you deserve it”?  Do you eat because you are tired, miserable or bored? Are you “good” most of the time, but have mini food “breakouts” because it is all too difficult?

Eating habits are shaped over our lifetime.  Identifying and understanding them is the first stage in your journey to a healthier weight, and the easiest way to do this is through a food diary.

A food diary not only helps you remember what you have eaten, it helps you to identify why you ate and how the food made you feel.  It also helps you get back in touch with feelings of hunger and fullness – feelings you may not fully recognise, particularly if you eat randomly or chaotically.

Most importantly, food diaries enable you to identify habits or food choices that may be contributing to your being above a healthy weight.  Once these are identified, you have a starting point for change.  Continue reading