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So you just polished off an entire bag of chips…again…and you’re blaming it on Emotional Eating.  Before you begin to criticize yourself for not having better “control” over your emotions (more on this subject below), let me tell you about addictive foods that may have their hooks in you, and empty foods that will always leave you hungry for more.

Emotional Eating is real and most of us engage in it occasionally.  However, there are other non-emotional reasons people overeat.  One reason is that people are eating foods that are addictive.  Have you ever heard someone (or yourself) say, I’m just so addicted to cheeeeeze….(or chocolate, or bread, or what about those little snack crispies in the bulk section)?  What is in those snack crispies anyway?

Addictive Foods

Natural foods which are processed in some way often become highly addictive.  Here are two examples:

Cheese:  The first example is cheese (which by the way is not natural – there is no cheese bush in nature and cows produce raw milk, not cheese, for their offspring).  When man takes raw cows milk, cooks it through pasteurization and then concentrates it to make cheese, you get an extremely addictive (and constipating) substance.  This is due to the protein casein which occurs naturally in milk.  There are natural opiate-like substances in casein called casomorphins which attach to the opiate receptor sites in the brain, causing intense addictions to dairy products.  So it is not just your imagination, dairy – especially cheese – is highly addictive.  In fact, casomorphins trigger such an addictive response that they’ve been compared to heroin in their power to create food addictions.  (Note: The relatively low-dose of casomorphin found in raw cows milk is natural and encourages the baby calf to keep nursing. The extremely high doses found in processed dairy products are not natural, addictive and harmful to your health.)

MSG:  Another example of an addictive food is MSG (monosodium gultamate).  Most people are now waking-up to the health dangers of MSG.  Did you know that is it highly addictive, makes you crave and eat way more than you naturally would, and it also kills brain cells?  MSG is technically considered “natural”.  It is created by taking a natural substance and processing it in order to increase the amount of free glutamic acid.  (I will be publishing an article in the future covering this important topic.)  In concentration, it becomes an excitotoxin and should be illegal.  Food manufactures use this substance (found under many names other than just msg) because it is a powerful flavor enhancer and highly addictive.  That’s why you “can’t have just one”.  Plainly stated, MSG increases sales.

Do you see a common thread in these two examples: cheese and MSG?  They are both processed.  Foods created by Mother Nature are not addictive and do not cause harm; they are the foods we were designed to eat.  It is when man begins to alter nature’s gifts that he creates his own illness, contributing to his own demise.

Empty Foods

Another non-emotional reason for overeating is consuming empty foods.  We’ve all heard the term “empty calories” and people generally know that empty calorie foods are unhealthy.  But many people don’t realize how these empty foods keep them eating and eating, and gaining weight.  The reason for this is very simple.  Your body needs nutrition as well as calories and it will signal hunger to get it’s nutritional needs met.  If you are eating empty foods then your body is getting calories but not being nourished and you will continue to eat in an attempt to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs for it’s optimal functioning.  That is how people can simultaneously be overweight and malnourished!

The most obvious offenders are the totally-empty foods like sodas, white sugar, white flour products etc.  However, there are also semi-empty foods you should be aware of.  Anything that has been processed (there’s that word again) in some way, usually removes or alters some part of the original natural food making it semi-empty at best, and totally toxic at worst.  Let’s take raisins, for example.  I eat raisins occasionally, and compared to most foods out there they are considered to be a health food.  But realize that raisins are not a whole-food.  Their water has been removed, and unless you dried them yourself in a low-temp dehydrator (or in the sun), then they are probably cooked – which means chemically altered – as well.

Please be aware that almost all processed foods are semi-empty or totally-empty foods.  And if it comes in a package, bottle, can, cello-wrap, freezer bag, glass jar, etc., it is usually processed.

So, What Should We Eat?

Eat pure foods.  Choose organic whole foods in their original (or minimally processed) state.  Raw organic fruits and veggies are best.  Learn to make green smoothies and salads.  Use homemade raw nut/seed dressings on your veggies.  If you choose to eat cooked food, it’s best to select whole organic foods (such as lentils, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc.) and prepare them at home.  Most of your shopping should be done in the produce section (or farmer’s market!), and some in the bulk section.  If you do eat out, ask questions!  More and more restaurants are catering to the health conscious crowd.  If they don’t, select a different restaurant!  No sense in paying good money to poison yourself and gain weight on top of it!

Next time you find yourself overeating, remember it may have more to do with what’s in the food than your current emotional state.  Of course, it can also be a combination of both.  In my next article we will return to the topic of Emotional Eating and how you can begin freeing yourself from this negative cycle.  I will cover how self-criticism and attempting to “control” your Emotional Eating (or your emotions in general) are self-defeating behaviors and how you can resolve these issues in a more positive and successful way.

In the meantime, please share your comments below.  What are your experiences with addictive and empty foods? Which ones trigger overeating for you, and have you found better alternatives?