Another RD misunderstands food addiction

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[This is a repost of an article that was lost, due to the failure of my now-fired web host, A Small Orange.]

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN is a sports dietitian in Orlando, and thanks to her, we have another opportunity to discuss food addiction. Despite all those letters after her name, food addiction has been been misunderstood, again.

We can start here..

“Foods do not have addictive properties that make someone depend on them, unlike chemical substances.”

First, who are we kidding about chemical substances? Have you seen the ingredient labels on most junk food? Most of it is chemicals — I think it was Kelly Brownell who observed that these Frankenfoods should be regulated by the EPA, not the FDA.

But also, even whole foods become chemical substances as digestion goes to work. Addiction is a brain disease, and chemicals are what make the brain function. It’s one of the great ignored facts of modern life — what goes into our bodies largely determines how our bodies function.

It is folly to say that food does not have addictive properties. The issue with substances is never “only” their addictive properties; it is the interplay between substance and individual biochemistry. Lots of people can drink responsibly, but some just can’t, no matter how many times they try.

Then LaRue says…

”People often associate pleasure with foods that contain fat, sugar and salt. As innocent as it may seem, this starts at a young age when candy and soda are given as a “treat” or “reward” for good behavior, grades or a celebration. Research studies have shown the reward centers of the brain to light up and release dopamine when pleasurable foods are consumed. Could this be that we’ve conditioned our bodies to react this way?”

So after saying that food doesn’t have addictive properties, we’re told that substances most often considered as having addictive properties light up the brain and release dopamine. Brain disease, remember? The same pleasure centers are activated by cocaine, alcohol, etc. — you know, those chemical substances that everyone knows have addictive properties — are activated by these as well.

The errors and inconsistencies in the article could sustain this discussion for a few more pages, but no one wants to read long posts, and it’s not worth a multi-part essay. But if you want to know more, I’ll be happy to engage with you in the comments.


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