Going "paleo" and food addiction

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I happened across a well-written blog by "VB" this morning that had a couple of points of interest to me. The url is healthygumsandme.blogspot,com, which she explains in one of her first posts: The dental hygienist told her, at the end of a visit, that she'd reset the cleanliness in her mouth, and it was up to her to keep it up there. And unlike other times, she did, for more than a month, and then realized she could apply that same discipline to other habits, including her eating.

The "proper" name of the blog, meanwhile, is "I Miss My Collar Bone," a notion many dieters will recognize: Bones seem to disappear, or certainly recede, as the weight piles on. My experience wasn't to miss my bones, but to be amazed I had them, once they started appearing after a lifetime of overweight. "Honey, look!" I'd say to my wife. pointing to my hip bone, or ribs.

VB's collar-bone-uncovering plan is to eat "paleo," — "NO GRAINS, NO DAIRY, NO SUGAR, NO LEGUMES, NOTHING PROCESSED," it says in her header. I eat no refined sugar, and take a jaundiced view of food processing, but don't subscribe to the rest of it, which I add only for comparison. Even though they're not mine, I admire her emphasis on whole foods.

I might have read and merely moved on if she hadn't raised, in her most recent post, her skepticism of the existence of food addiction:


I really have a problem with that term. Its used so frequently and so loosely. Not everyone that is overweight has a food addiction. You need food to live, so its not like drugs or alcohol in which you can give those up and still live. Sugar addiction? Sure. I can believe that one. But the blanket term "food addiction" is really where I have an issue.


I acknowledge her position, which is essentially the mainstream view. But it's wrong. I also acknowledge that "food addiction" is a lousy term. Obviously, no one has a blanket "all-food" addiction, because, obviously, those people died out long ago. But "sugar addiction," which I would restate as "refined-sugar" addiction, IS a food addiction. For some people, chocolate is addictive, and that's a food addiction. Some people can't tolerate flour, for biological reasons very similar to refined sugar, and that's a food addiction. For many, including me, volume of food is a food addiction.

I could go on with examples, but to return to the main point: "Food addiction" as an illness may not exist, but it certainly does as a category. That's confusing, but what are we going to do? Call it "some-food addiction"? "Some-food-and-food-behavior addiction"? Not very catchy.

Food addictions are not solely responsible for the adipose flood afflicting America and, increasingly, the world — have you heard the term "globesity"? But they are a significant factor, and becoming more so over time. For our own good, as undiagnosed individuals and as a society that is sharing the added costs of increased incidence of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, we need to get that straight and react accordingly.

PS: Am I saying that VB is a food addict? No frickin' way. I would be loath to say that of anyone, in large part because that's an individual's call, not mine. Additionally: I'm not picking on VB; I'm using her assertion as a jumping-off point.

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