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If you find yourself craving and binging on bread, pasta and sweets, don't blame your lack of willpower.  There is actually a physiological reason behind your cravings. You are most likely consuming foods to which you are allergic or intolerant.  Many people associate food allergies with an emergency anaphylactic response, but it is possible to be intolerant of certain foods and not even know it.  The body reacts to foods to which it is allergic or intolerant by producing its own addictive narcotics, the opioid endorphins, which create a feeling of euphoria when that particular food is consumed.  You begin to crave these foods when you eat them, because they induce pleasurable feelings!

The most common foods to which people become addicted are gluten—the protein in wheat, rye, and barley—and dairy. Gluten intolerance is very common, especially among those of Irish, Scottish, English, and Eastern European descent.  The most common symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, digestive issues, and depression.  A person with gluten intolerance cannot digest the protein portion of many commonly eaten grains, and this is what causes the unexplained digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and cramping.

The relationship between gluten intolerance, alcoholism, and food addiction is well documented. Gluten consumption sets off a feel-good endorphin reaction when consumed by gluten intolerant individuals that can lead to binging and purging.  Food compulsion is a chemical addiction, not just a behavioral problem of willpower.  Food addicts suffer from altered brain chemistry: they may have low levels of serotonin and other feel good neurotransmitters, or they may suffer from protein malabsorption or inborn errors of metabolism.  When people are low in serotonin, they crave carbohydrates, most especially ice cream or combinations of grains and dairy products, such as cereal and milk, particularly in the evening hours.  Consuming these foods temporarily raises brain levels of serotonin.

Food dependency can cause compulsive overeating, anorexia, bulimia, obesity, and it brings on feelings of depression and anxiety.  There is a strong relationship between food addiction and chemical dependency.  Because food addiction is a chemical dependency triggered by certain foods, avoiding these triggers is the cure.  Eliminating sugar, which is as powerful as heroin, is a must; white flour, processed foods, and caffeine must also be replaced with nutrient-rich, organic, whole foods.

Food is meant to nourish, not nurture.  But from the moment of birth, we have been nurtured with food as the ultimate symbol of comfort.  Our first experience with food was mother's milk, which nourished and nurtured us.  By reprogramming our relationship to food and choosing foods that nourish us, that are the correct macronutrient ratios for our physiology, and that maintain blood sugar stability, we can be free from cravings.

Food and alcohol addicts often suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and blood sugar instability.  They may experience sweet and carbohydrate cravings, mood swings/irritability, alcohol cravings, gluten intolerance, and adrenal fatigue.  These conditions can all be corrected by the healing diet, which includes eliminating gluten, dairy, soy and processed foods while consuming plenty of nutrient rich vegetables, fruits and protein from organic sources.
Consider the following questions:

  • What is your relationship with food?
  • What is your first memory of food?
  • Are you a compulsive overeater? Undereater?
  • What was your first problem with food?
  • Do you have a history of eating disorders? Is there alcoholism in your family?
  • What is your family's relationship with food?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs to control your weight?
  • How often are you eating? Is there anything you eat too little or too much of?
  • Are you or is anyone else concerned about your eating or your weight?

Living Gluten Free

There is life beyond a diet of gluten and gliadin containing foods! If we stop and consider for a moment, most of our primitive ancestors never ate grains. Our origins come from hunters and gatherers whose diets were rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, proteins and natural fats; all of those foods that could be gathered from the earth's harvest. There are a number of studies and research findings that show how native tribes experienced a profound sense of health that has been changed dramatically by the introduction of processed foods into their traditional diets.

Our American diet has become overwhelmed by high concentrations of grains and processed food.  Eating gluten-free is in many ways a return to an earlier way of eating—a way that our body genetically, hereditarily, digestively and metabolically understands and functions better with.  Enjoy a diet rich in proteins (chicken, beef, eggs, lamb, turkey, fish), vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and the grains rice, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat. You will feel greatly better for your efforts!  Please note that the intestinal healing process takes a minimum 2-3 months of a gluten-free diet, the more dramatic health changes are usually seen after 6 months.

The gluten-free world is one that is growing.  Know that you are not alone in this dilemma, but rather part of an expanding group who are realizing the benefits of improving their diet.  Marisa J. Kruss RD LD/N will assess how your individual health is being impacted by your diet choices and the benefits of gluten free living for you.

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