Can Food Actually Be Addictive?

People often have questions or feel resistance when the topic of food addiction comes up, and in this week’s Vlog, I address those concerns.


Comments

  1. Marilee

    I so appreciate this. Knowing that food truly is addictive in the scientific sense makes me more determined to beat my own food addiction. I have one question: couldn’t any substance addiction also be a process addiction? Because in taking the substance there’s always a process that goes along with it that the brain recognizes and starts to fire out its own chemicals?

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  2. Sarah Katzin

    So interesting about the combination of substance and process.,
    And as you mentioned the gradation, I have been curious about this for a long time:
    In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it talks about the “moderate drinker”. I often wonder if a person who is a 6 or a 7 on the Susceptibility Scale is the equivalent of this. I am not fully convinced that it is so, because I, for example am a 6/7 who was incapable of “taking it or leaving it alone” until I started keeping the Four Bright Lines.

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  3. Fiona

    Fabulous Vlog Susan! I can eat for England. No NMFs but vast quantities- I find this more scary than processed food addiction. Meaning I can’t loose the weight I’ve regained. I substituted food for alcohol when I gave it up 18 months ago so this process addiction is new to me. I have very clear BLE foods but no control over quantity even when I realise I’m doing it stopping seems impossible. You get to grips with one addiction and another rears it’s head. 😂

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  4. Anne Wynn

    “Food counts as both substance and process addiction”. This makes so much sense to me now, Susan. I intuitively knew I was high on the susceptibility scale years before finding your program. I had tried different types of emotional eating programs, and had continuously disappointed myself by not being able to find the will power to control the cravings that would arise. I am so glad to have found your approach and your take on food addiction! It is real.

    I am finding that writing out my meal plan for the next day really helps me find peace of mind that I was lacking previously. Eating exactly the quantity on the meal plan gives me a road guide to follow.

    Thank you much for your work on this, Susan! You truly get it. You are really making a difference to my quality of life, and I am so grateful for that.🌞

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  5. Christine Eakin

    Best VLOG you have done in a while Susan.
    Thanks
    Christine

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  6. Brenda Hall

    Thanks for explaining FrankenFoods(Hyperrefined) and Process Behavioral Addiction. I’ve got the Double Whammy! 10+ Susceptibility scale.
    I do Love when Science supports the reality of my life. Hoping to get support & thank You for Fifth Bright Line! I’m still stuck in the ditch, yet listen to weekly Vlogs.

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  7. MOLLY

    This is a very informative Vlog. Thanks Susan

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  8. Liane Anderson

    More food for thought! Thank you, Susan!

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  9. Stephanie

    Very timely for me. I have been trying to stick to BLE for 4.5 years and cutting out sugar and flour is no problem, it’s the quantities that kill me. I start eating bright line food and just keep eating and eating and eating and my husband is like why don’t you just stop? it’s a choice and I’m like oh my gosh I wish I knew. I wish I could explain to you. Food addiction is SO real and SO hard to kick. I relate to the person bingeing on iceberg lettuce and mushrooms. I have binged on every bright line food I’ve tried so it’s a very slow arduous process to relearn and rewire and feel safe eating anything at all 🙁 thanks Susan, always my lifeline to sanity

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Stephanie. There are so many in the BLE community who can understand how you feel. 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

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  10. Jantsje

    Thank you for this helpful vlog! I thought I wasn’t receptive for addictions, because I don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol and beverages etc. But I always felt hungry and never really saturated and could always eat something a short time after a complete meal. I snatched cookies when my husband was at the toilet, couldn’t stop when eating Chinese food and ate untill I’ was completely full. When I was angry, I tended to chew someting crunchy, like I had to shatter the anger by my teeth. For one month I do BLE now and I realise that I was addicted to food. To the food itself (cookies, Chinese food, chocolate) and to the process of eating. I feel a lot calmer and balanced now and lost 4,5 kilograms (9 lb) of weight, even on holiday!

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  11. Stefi

    Wonderful vlog!! Thank you so much Susan 😃🌺

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  12. GinaB

    Why did SPT say “especially melted cheese” when speaking of cheese addiction? I personally have noticed that particular effect but never knew why.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, GinaB! Think about foods with melted cheese, they tend to be HIGHLY processed and are binge foods for many people: nachos and pizza are good examples. 🧡 That type of cheese is even more processed and than a slice of cheese.

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      1. GinaB

        Ah! But not my problem. Back when I ate cheese (many years ago now), I would binge on just cheese by itself, and *melted* cheese in a bowl fresh out the microwave or toaster oven was the *best* of all. It wasn’t pizza or anything like that, just cheese. It was pretty impossible to control cheese at all, but melted cheese was the worst. It was never processed cheese (yuck), more usually gourmet natural cheese.

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  13. Curt

    This vlog helped me to better understand my experience with food. I was clear about the substance addition to sugar and flour. My inkling about the process addition has been clarified through this video. I am now better able to explain BLE and its benefits to others. I remain so grateful to Susan and her team.

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  14. Miriam Berchuk

    There is so much pushback against the existence of food addiction within the medical and dietetics professions. Not dissimilar to the pushback we used to see against cigarettes as addictive. Hopefully it won’t be decades until we finally see mainstream health providers recognize what we’re up against and why their standard advice of Eat Less Move More is so ineffective.

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  15. Renata J Drake

    Found the coaching bootcamp very interesting. Just finished day 21 and was worried that I was not a food addict but BLE is serving me well. Thanks.

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  16. Christy

    I needed to see this more than anything today. I am one year post op from bariatric sleeve and have not had flour, sugar, or wheat in over a year. I rarely have processed foods, but can obsess and overeat non processed foods like poultry. I especially am fascinated by your statement about addiction from cheese. I didn’t know this was a thing and am addicted to cheese! It is definitely like a drug to me and my cheese addiction scares me. Obviously, I need to abstain from it.

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    1. Fiona

      Christy ~

      Casomorphins, an opiate like substance in milk (a peptide of the casein milk protein molecule) is responsible for what you describe. It’s super concentrated in cheese – the stuff that makes calves “want’ to nurse, other than just being hungry. Another hit to the dopamine receptors but a negative one in this case. There are other negatives as well – the “wrong” kind of saturated fat and “wrong” kind of salt in most cheese. “The Cheese Trap” is an interesting book by Dr. Neal Barnard but know in advance that he his heavily slanted to pro-vegetarian which isn’t for everyone.

      Best of luck to you ~ I have a family member who is cheese addicted and has never gotten the excess weight off ~ congrats on cleaning up your diet! I hope it has made you feel much better and healthier for your precious life.

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      1. Christy

        Thank you so much for the support and this information. I will definitely check out that book!

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  17. Marie L

    My health care provider and even an IFS practitioner keep encouraging me to adopt “Intuitive Eating.” Thanks for providing the history of where Intuitive Eating comes from. I can’t imagine that you would tell an alcoholic to tune in to their body to determine whether or not to have a drink. Something seems totally wrong about the idea that all I need to do is to become mindful, slow down enough, savor an NMF enough and all will be well and I will have immunity to bingeing. Sounds like for a “10” like me on the susceptibility scale that if the substance addiction does get me outright than the process addiction will.
    Thanks. It gives me hope that I might be able to explain to these health experts why “Intuitive Eating” is outside my wheelhouse!

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  18. Phyllis

    Thank you Susan for another great vlog topic. So interesting and informative. Food addiction being both a substance and process addiction. Wow, double whammy no wonder it’s so hard to get the weight off. So looking forward to your next book.

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  19. P

    Wonderful and enlightening vlog, Susan. One thing I would take issue with, though, is your contention that “in the absence of processed foods, no one would be addicted to food.” I myself became obese and addicted to food by the time I was 3 years old. There wasn’t a lot of processed food either in my house or on supermarket shelves at the time, since this was the late 1950’s before processed food became the scourge that it is today. What I did have, though, was a parent who was a food addict, someone who taught me from early on how medicate negative emotions with the process of eating, and to regard eating as an enjoyable past-time with only a loose association to physical hunger and meal times. Sure, some of that eating involved processed food, but I don’t think it was the driving force. Just my n=1 experience. Thanks again for your insights into food addiction as straddling the line between substance and process. Terrific stuff.

    Reply ·
    1. Debbi Neher

      You make a really good point about early “teachings” and you describe it so perfectly: “to regard eating as an enjoyable pastime with only a loose association to physical hunger and meal times” as well as a go-to for medicating feelings that were not allowed to be expressed openly. Thanks for adding this to the conversation. I think it’s another way that food addiction is unique in our culture. Adults ply children with “food” substances where they would never think of giving kids alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.

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    2. Bright Line Eating

      This sounds like it is in line with a process addiction. Thank you for sharing your experience, P. We are sorry to hear of the challenging circumstances you felt around food from your early years. 🧡

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  20. Janice Strength

    Thanks so much for this, Susan. I am trained as a clinical psychologist, however I don’t think I had realized the two different kinds of addiction: substance and process the way you explained it. Nor had I articulated that food straddles both. Thanks for this clarification. It is useful to me personally and will continue to be with my clients.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      We are so happy to hear this is not only beneficial to you, but also to the clients you serve and help, Janice! WONDERFUL! 🧡

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  21. Janice

    Thanks so much for this, Susan. I am trained as a clinical psychologist, however I don’t think I had realized the two different kinds of addiction: substance and process the way you explained it. Nor had I articulated that food straddles both. Thanks for this clarification. It is useful to me personally and will continue to be with my clients.

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  22. Wanda Aho

    This is the best vlog I’ve heard yet!! I will use this resource when anyone in my circle is curious why I eat like I do. You hit this one “out of the park”

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  23. Debbi Neher

    One of the very best vlogs of yours I have seen. I love it when you bring the science! Also appreciated seeing the physical textbooks, not only because they give an inkling of how education on these topics has advanced, but give evidence that you keep up with current thinking in the field. Kudos and thanks for the humanity-liberating uses you put this knowledge to!

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    1. Lesley

      I keep thinking about the Intuitive Eating movement. I was hoping you would mention it at some point. I so want to enjoy all foods anytime, and I reject the way diet culture makes us feel that we aren’t valid or worthy unless we are small. But I know how I feel physically when I start eating sugar/flour foods. I can’t stop until my stomach hurts. Intuitive Eating would say that I need to do an emotional deep dive to find out what’s going on in my body to trigger that feeling of needing to eat until I’m miserable. I’m a ten on the scale and I know my brain is addicted, plain and simple. I need to keep reminding myself of this information and this vlog helped remind me. I wish there were an in between answer, but I’m so grateful for the science.

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  24. Brigitte

    This blog hits so many good points. Food as both substance & process addiction is “food for thought” on my own journey. I want to “confirm” Susan’s theory that food addiction has its onset in exposure to processed foods. My fairly unique history bears this out I am bi-continental, having been raised by my grandparents in a small French village where no one , I repeat, nobody was overweight. Because of my grandparents’ limited retirement income and their culture, almost all of our food came from our garden and orchard and the small animals we raised, as well as eggs from our hens. . Milk came from the dairy farm, my grandmother made her own butter. We purchased yogurt, cheese, fish, meats from larger animals (pork, beef etc.), flour, rice and sugar which were expensive. We had very occasional treats from the pastry shop, chocolate and candy. Largest meal was lunch and there were no snacks. At the age of 14, I arrived In America and food came from the supermarket, and although my mother cooked similarly to my grandmother who, lived with us, we were introduced to cold sugary cereals, pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, strangely spongy white bread, pasta, crackers potato! Cheese puffs,, canned tomatoes, bottles salad dressings, ketchup, cookies that came from packages and tasteless supermarkets vegetables. Everything seemed strangely sweet and salty and attractive. It’s actually true I had never eaten pasta except from a handful of vermicelli that my grandmother would use to bulk a nutritious bone broth to make a quick soup. It’s true that I had never had ice cream, packaged or soft serve. I gained 30 lbs in 2 months and went right past my current weight ( I am 1 lb. away from goal today). That what my exposure to substances (carbs, sugar, and hyper-tasting, chemically enhanced and preserved foods.). In my thirties, I developed a process addiction. My company relocated all of its employees from NYC to suburbia in New Jersey, I was in a difficult marriage and eating was entertainment, our marital conversation, and comfort from stress. There was a sudden need to “dive into” foods to avoid awkward conversations, there was joy in my escapes to the supermarket, there was protection in adding bulk to my body, there was physical pleasure in over eating, there was some delicious transport away from reality in eating my forbidden foods, and there was passion in my chronic dieting and reading about nutrition and being organic.; there was communion with the women at work in discussing our struggle with our waistlines and marriages. This was the process addiction. As I reach, my goal weight, the process addiction was the hardest to let go…I had to answer this question: who am I without my chronic diet conversation? I am good now. By the way… I am a 5 on the susceptibility scale. My highest weight 158. I lost l4 lbs on BLE and my current weight 111 – I have been at this weight for over six months but I think I need to be lighter than my current goal weight of 110lbs. I am carb-sensitive, and my trigger is “crackers”. I have never binged, never had a craving. On BLE I just relearned proper meal size, I learned my triggers, my cues and most importantly I have a balanced neutral relationship with foods. The meditative and journaling practices have sustained me. I still love to cook, shop and experiment with foods but I have learned to respect food and its incredible power to both heal and damage me. I make sure goods choices now.

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    1. Koko Anderson

      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully inspiring story! I know I’m not the only one that can related to your journey. Be well and continue to make good choices. 🙂

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    2. Bright Line Eating

      Hello, Brigitte! Thank you so much for sharing your interesting and unique experiences. “I have learned to respect food and its incredible power to both heal and damage me”… that is a beautiful sentence. Very powerful. 🧡

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  25. Stella Star

    Great Vlog, one of the best in a long time. I have followed my BLE journey since 2019, have successfully kept off 40lbs just reading the first book, and watching the weekly vlogs and though not a crystal vaser, am very happy to tell other people about my journey and how BLE has changed my eating and life.
    I am not on any type of social media, so thank you for continuing to reach out to those of us that eagerly look forward to your weekly vlogs.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Stella! We are happy to hear how much you look forward to the weekly Vlog and how it helps you in your BLE journey. Thank you for being here! 🧡

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  26. Linda Ragazzo

    Excellent vlog Susan! Thank you for the distinction regarding food addiction., very informative. So interesting to learn how it is both a substance and processed addiction.

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  27. Anna G

    Thank you Susan. This week’s vlog is so interesting and informative. It answers many of my ongoing question to self, as whether I am truly addicted to food. Your quiz has tripped me up because although I would not go out into a snow storm to get food, I have eaten the flour and cheese or peanut butter combination to satisfy a need. The cheese and peanut butter are OK now because I portion it, on occasion, to fit the program. If I were to go out for food, it was always sugar. Also, I don’t think I ever lost control for 3 months. I always went back to dieting. It’s hard to think back to age 14, when I am now 75. Thanks for Bright Line Eating. The rules serve me.

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  28. Pamela J Simmons

    Perfect!

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  29. Helle Madsen

    Very very interesting vlog on food addiction

    Vh
    Helle Madsen

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  30. Karen Sandstrom

    Great, important info for those of us who have spent most of our lives trying to figure out what’s going on in our brains.

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