Yes, food addiction is not just a fancy term to define one’s craving for certain types of sugary, salty and tasty food. It is a reality that works just like any other drug addiction; be it cocaine or tobacco. However, it is comparatively lesser in degree of being addictive and hence easier to get rid of.
Food addiction can be very harmful for your health and well-being. However, as we gradually reach our declining years eating controlled and eating healthy becomes essential for healthy and happy living. Food addiction can prove to be a very problematic an issue in this regard for seniors and caregivers alike.
We all know this; and yet we often feel drawn towards unhealthy, high fat, and sweet and salty but tasty food items. In Spite of knowing that a healthy diet contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy amount of protein, ever and again we feel like relishing that cream pie, pastry or the chocolate bar! And to some people the drive becomes simply uncontrollable. That’s when it becomes a full grown food addiction.
Now let us have a look at the science behind it.
In old times when our ancestors were always on the lookout for food and discoveries of newer edibles then someday they got upon the realization that sweet things, like berries, are very helpful in giving quick energy whereas other fat packed food items released energy at a slower pace.
This very discovery led the present day food manufacturers to cash in from processing food with higher levels of sugar, fat, and salt to increase the taste and the effect that berries offered to our ancestors.
But what exactly going on in your mind when you are taking these sweet and salty but tasty food that you crave for so much?
The fact is simply eating such things manipulates with the pleasure center of the mind and increases the release of the feel good hormone called dopamine. Just the same way any drugs, more or less, does the same. In this way you are gradually getting addicted to the over release of the happy hormones; and whenever you are not feeling good or just simply want to feel good you just can’t keep yourself away from taking those food items.
Another dangerous issue with this is that, with time, if one continues giving in to these impulses of taking highly palatable, high fat and high sugar foods then gradually the Prefrontal Cortex of our brain will get damaged. As a result the person will find it even more difficult to resist those impulses.
But all these effects can very well be reversed with some practice and determination. Now, let’s see how you can break free from your food addiction to make healthy eating habits and to reach higher levels of wellness.
The first thing or step that you have to take is to adopt the techniques of mindfulness. In this regard meditation is the best practice. Simply begin with 5-10 minutes of sitting in a quiet place and trying to calm your mind.
Focus on your breath as you breathe in and out. Let your thoughts diffuse in the silence of your mental being. Keep an unfaltering attention on breathing and keep doing this longer and longer as you progress towards achieving the total silence of the mind.
Through this your mind will be much more stronger to fight unwanted impulses like those of food addiction and you will be able to better direct your own will into each and every sphere of your existence such as diet control, regular exercise and others. And most importantly there’s no age limit to start meditating and being benefitted from it. We always encourage positive meditative practices from Comfort Keepers San Mateo and our loved seniors can start meditating from right now.
After that try to focus and give full attention to healthy eating. Eat peacefully giving enough time to appreciate the beauty of eating. While eating look at your food, take smell and eat slowly and carefully feeling the taste more intensely than you normally used to do. Doing this will allow the happy hormones to get released, even if you are not taking those sugary and fatty foods.
Include foods rich in lean protein, fiber and low in fat. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables. You can try adding smoothies made out of milk and banana or other fruits to soothe away the extra cravings for sweet. Add Avocado, sesame seeds and spinach to your diet as they help in releasing dopamine.
Have Proper Exercise
There is no end of benefits to have from regular physical exercises. Even in the declining years having regular exercise helps in increasing active brain cells and circuits.
You don’t have to have any detailed course of practices and have to set a list of rigorous exercises to be benefitted by physical exercise. Depending on the condition of our loved senior even a regular walk down the park is enough to bestow the innumerable benefits of regular exercise.
Therefore, have adequate amount and types of exercises depending upon your physical condition. Try to include jogging, running and swimming, if you can manage. However, simply walking and a bit of stretching exercises may go a long way in ensuring fit, healthy and happy life. Besides, a simple workout will also help in producing happy hormones, increasing quality of life and repairing your prefrontal cortex.
So, now you know that food addiction is as real as any other addiction and it can be as much dangerous as those others. It is high time you took preventive measures against the dangers of food addiction. You have to acknowledge that to effectively deal with food addiction it’s not only foods that you are changing but it will definitely entail making some positive lifestyle changes and changes in your mental and bodily existence. You may also have to bring changes among the people you associate with or the places you visit for a time being in order to avail extra assistance to resist the impulses of food addiction.