Book Review: Food Junkies: The Truth About Food Addiction, by Vera Tarman
I liked this book a lot. The topic is something I relate to, oh too well. Food, especially sweet foods, are so much a part of our daily lives. Too many of us live to eat, instead of eating to live.
This book dives into the science behind food addiction. Some will counter it saying that addiction isn’t about food, it’s about drugs and alcohol, but the science is showing how the human body can respond to food, especially sugar, in the same way that it responds to drugs. The craving or need for food or certain foods, can be as strong, possibly stronger, than it is for drugs and alcohol.
The author shares many stories of individuals who experienced addictions that range from food alone, to food and drugs. Some started with drugs and turned to food with the same passion they had for their drugs. One thing I took away from those stories is that a person can have a deeply ingrained issue, genetic or otherwise, with addiction and addictive behavior. It isn’t necessarily the drug or food. For some people, almost anything can become the focus of addiction. And trying to shake it completely may be an impossible dream.
Throughout her storytelling, which includes her own story, the author discusses treatment that has been used for addictions. For Food Addiction, she strongly urges abstinence for the trigger foods once identified. This is the simplest approach and shown to be the most successful solution.
The stories shared include people who were binge eaters, and some who were anorexic and bulimic (bingeing/purging). Many had history of unhealthy food behaviors early in their lives. These individuals had very serious, life-threatening health issues at times because of their food addiction. Not all of the stories had happy endings. That is one reality of addiction. Some people were able to find the right help and live happier, healthier lives. No one was “cured” of their addiction. The bottom line is understanding the addiction and getting the right support. Ultimately, the individuals who abstain from their trigger foods are the ones able to maintain their health. Other habits included following fairly rigid diets, weighing and measuring foods, and planning their meals. These are life-time habits for them. Support from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous were invaluable as well.
While I don’t think most of us have a true food addiction, I do believe that we don’t always realize the effect certain foods have on our bodies, and the control they have, or we allow them to have, on our lives. With the alarming increase of obesity and other serious health issues in our American society (and now other countries as well), it would be wise for us to pay attention to what people like this author are telling us about our processed foods, especially the sugar!
I’ve read quite a few other books on food and how it affects the body and decreases health. So that topic is not new to me. Some other good reads include: