I have talked about this a lot with my weight loss groups. Studies often report findings that we already intuitively know, or could learn if we listened to our bodies. Recent research on food addiction-like symptoms and bingeing behavior is a good example.
Studies on animals show that addictive patterns are established when food is restricted and then made temporarily available. It seems that we may actually be able to change behavioral and neural pathways by a pattern of restriction and short-term exposure to many of the foods that people have trouble controlling.
When human biology meets the food environment, full of lots of artificially over-tasty and under-nutritious options, dieters have a real challenge! This is especially true when combined with the all too common black and white thinking that is typical of dieting.
Isn’t this intuitive, if you think about it? I have thought about it, and I have noticed my potential to fall into these patterns at times in the past . . . whenever I have tried to cut any food completely out of my life. The problem for many people I see is that they are not noticing these patterns. They can continue for years, even decades – binge, starve, lose, gain, . . . .
If you see those patterns in yourself, it is probably time to take a good long look and decide how you can realistically live in our tempting food environment. I believe that while patterns of addiction with food seem to be within our power to create, our brain pathways can be changed to support more healthy habits too. Feelings of deprivation are not supportive of healthy changes.