Breaking the Food Seduction : The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings---And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally
Jennifer is a thirty-four-year-old bank manager. She's managed her education, her career, her finances--and her customers' money--she can't seem to handle this darn little chocolate in a shiny wrapper. . . Whether you're drawn to chocolate, cookies, potato chips, cheese, or burgers and fries, we all have foods we can't seem to resist--foods that sabotage our best efforts to lose weight and improve our health. These foods are winning the battle--but that's because we're fighting it in the wrong place. As physician and leading health researcher Dr. Neal Barnard explains in this groundbreaking book, banishing these cravings is not a question of willpower or psychology--it's a question of biochemistry. Based on the author's research and that of other leading investigators at major universities, Breaking the Food Seduction reveals the diet and lifestyle changes that can break these stubborn craving cycles. Using everyday examples, questionnaires, and practical tips, the book delivers:Fascinating new insights into the chemical reasons behind your cravings Seven simple steps to break craving cycles and tame your appetite Important advice for kids' sugar cravings and how to halt them A three-week kick-start program One hundred delicious, satisfying recipes that help your body break the spell of problem foods and put you on the path to weight loss, better health, and greater well-being This accessible and practical book is essential reading for anyone who wants to lose weight, lower cholesterol, feel more energetic, and get control of their health once and for all.
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St. Martin's Press
June 24, 2003
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Excerpt from Breaking the Food Seduction by Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
When you imagine your absolute favorite foods, which ones come to mind? Sugary treats? Chocolate? Savory cheese? A thick, juicy steak?
In this section, we'll look at some surprising traits of the foods we love as we explore why we sometimes love them a little too much. We'll then size up whether these love affairs are actually doing us any harm. And we'll finish with a look at how food industries work tirelessly behind the scenes to maintain their place in your heart -- or at least in your stomach.
Our goal for the moment is to understand our food habits. Then, in parts II and III, we'll see how to break them.
The Seduction Begins: How Foods Addict You
You're not going to make me give up chocolate, are you?" the young woman asked. She had come to my office to join a research study that demanded some fairly major diet changes. But there was a limit. Chocolate was not negotiable.
"No, we're not," I replied, to her visible relief. "But, very soon you might look at chocolate a bit differently."
She was thirty-five, with a successful career. She was about to begin a series of diet readjustments that would help her lose weight, boost her energy, and make her healthier overall. Unbeknownst to her at the outset, however, these same diet changes were about to knock out food cravings that had been troubling her for longer than she could remember. And that would change her life.
The truth was, even though she loved candy bars, fudge, and chocolate chip cookies, they were not entirely her friends. Each candy wrapper's nutrition label read almost like a confession -- ten, twelve, or fifteen grams of fat in a single serving, and every last gram seemed to descend straight to her thighs. She liked chocolate, but she had been desperate to find some way to control it so that she could have it when she wanted, but not be its slave.
Does her situation sound familiar? We all get into food ruts of one kind or another, whether they involve simple daily habits or intense, recurring cravings. At the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we see their effects all too clearly in our research studies. Of all the things that influence our volunteers' weight, health, or how they feel from day to day, the number-one factor is the foods they've become hooked on.
New discoveries have helped us understand why it is that some foods become almost magnetic. It is now abundantly clear that your desire for certain foods -- chocolate, potato chips, or cookies, for example -- is not simply a choice, like what color socks you'll wear or what movie you might go see. The demand is physical.
To return to the case of our research volunteer, whose name, by the way, is Cynthia, she felt an intense craving for something sweet every evening, usually around eight or nine o'clock. It was not that she might appreciate a sweet in the way one might like a flower or a pretty picture. This was an overwhelming physical need. And it was specific. Plain table sugar didn't do it. Neither did fruit, raisins, or syrup, sweet as they may be. What she needed was a combination of sweetness and fat, with a bit of chocolate taste as an essential ingredient: a cookie, a chocolate bar, or maybe some ice cream. She might resist it for an hour or two. But sooner or later she would find herself plugging quarters into a candy machine or hurrying off to the convenience store with the same mixture of humiliation and compulsion that people feel as they fall off the wagon into the waiting arms of cigarettes, alcohol, or other addictions.