Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Breaking Food Addictions and Outsmarting the Food Industry

Nov 29, 2016 10:55AM
by Gwyn Whittaker
Do you ever find yourself driving to the store on a mission to buy something to eat that you know is not good for you and that you know you will regret later? This is the goal of the food industry: to maximize the calories bought and consumed. It is not enough to get you to buy that bag of chips and eat them over a few days, ingredients called excitotoxins are designed to stimulate your pleasure center and override judgment. It is an innate biological drive that the industry is leveraging to cause this consumptive behavior.

The Pleasure Trap by Dr. Doug Lisle examines the effects of salt, sugar and oil on the brain and our species' drive to maximize caloric intake for when the famine arrives. In most American families, however, the famine never arrives and these caloric-dense foods just pack on the pounds over time, causing more than 16 percent of the population to be Type 2 diabetic and almost 90 percent to be prediabetic.

Michael Moss examines the food industry in his book, Salt, Sugar and Fat, and notes many tobacco industry executives moved to the food industry after tobacco usage began dropping with government action to prevent lung cancer. An ex-Chief Technology Officer from a major food provider commented "I feel sorry for consumers", because of the premeditated plan to produce addictive foods that have caused the obesity epidemic in the U.S. The industry spends millions of research dollars to study how to keep people addicted to these food-like products.

Awareness is the first step. Reading labels and keeping things out of your home that contain animal products or added salt, sugar and oil are a beginning. A day of water fasting can help reset taste buds toward foods that we were designed to eat: if you are craving an apple or carrot instead of cookies and chips, then you have overcome food addiction.

Breaking the cycle is another method: don't get caught hungry without healthy snacks to tide you over. Packing small containers of cut veggies with hummus or apples with peanut butter is a preemptive strike against the uncontrolled steering of your car toward to grocery store when you are starving. It is much easier to stick to a list when you are full.

Clean your pantry of the junk and keep go-to snacks in the house: air popped popcorn is great, as are a frozen banana/soy milk/cocoa ice 'cream'. Crisp red peppers, celery and cherry tomatoes are also great snacking foods, perhaps with hummus and rice cakes. Before going out with friends or family, prepare yourself with a whole-plant food meal and have a salad with veggies and balsamic dressing as your entree at the restaurant.

Taste buds will reset over a three-week period, and the body will go through withdrawal if you have been using salt, sugar and oil on a regular basis. Some will even experience a detox, causing sweats and nausea as the body tries to clean itself out. Like a smoker quitting smoking, the black lungs eventually return to pink if the addiction is broken.

In the same manner, endothelial cells that line the arteries turn from white and hard, to pink and open after these addictions have been overcome. It is the reason that energy returns; nutrition is optimized and energy is derived from the absorption from food. As Michael Pollan says In Defense of Food: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Avoid food-like products from the food industry and eat your way to good health.

Gwyn Whittaker is CEO of GreenFare Organic Café, 408 Elden St., Herndon. To learn about their 21-Day KickStart program, designed to “Change Your Diet, Change Your Life”, developed by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), visit


Global Brief
Health Brief