This is what I have been saying, from my own experience and much anecdotal evidence, as well as from others on Doctor Oz, reported by the Eades, Hellers, and others, yet denied by some “dieticians”. I quote that word because I have seen certified dieticians pooh pooh this information as well as recommend cereal and grain for a “healthy diet”. That’s like recommending beer to an alcoholic. The faster the blood sugar spikes, the greater the serotonin release. Add fat to the equation and dopamine is released. Either is addictive in itself, but combined, even greater.
Refined carbohydrates and grains are absorbed quickly and spike the blood sugar in proportion to their glycemic index. The higher the glycemic index (GI), the faster the blood sugar spikes. Glycemic load is a function of GI and the amount of the food consumed. What goes up, must come down, so the spike in blood sugar results in the body producing a corresponding spike in insulin, which causes the blood sugar to plummet a few hours later. Plummeting blood sugar makes one hungry and crave more of the same that caused the spike, so we over eat to get our fix and the cycle repeats.
Fat does the same, but is absorbed more slowly, so its addictiveness isn’t as intense as it is to refined carbohydrates. But, the mouth feel, the satiety it produces by closing the exit sphincter of the stomach and letting us feel full, is part of a Pavlovian response to fats. You might say that it is psychologically addictive. Well, guess what– this combination of psychological addiction and physical addiction is exactly how our bodies respond to many drugs. The feel-good is the psychological component and the physical component is both the neurotransmitter release and the body chemistry changes that alter the number of receptors to the drugs. Opiates and barbiturates both cause a decrease in the suppressive neurological receptors such that sudden withdrawal can result in over-stimulation of the body and great pain and even death can result.
As the Yahoo article points out, the effect of carbohydrate and fat withdrawal results in depression and craving. Why? Because the frequent over-stimulation of the neurotransmitters results in desensitization. Receptors diminish because there is a nearly constant over-production of our feel-good neurotransmitters and the body adapts to balance its chemistry. Sudden withdrawal of this stimulation results in a neurotransmitter deficit until the number of receptors increases to again reach equilibrium. From my own experience, this takes 1-2 weeks, with the most dramatic change occurring in the first week.
The bottom line is to consider our feel-good foods– the high GI carbs, the fats, the sugary/fatty combinations– as drugs. Most of us can drink alcohol and not become alcoholics. But, some DO become alcoholics. Similarly, most of us can eat sugary/fatty indulgences and not become addicted, but some do. And, it is a very real addiction whose withdrawal results in depression, craving, and obsession about getting their next “fix”. The craving manifests itself as intense, unnatural hunger, as though the person was starving. Ironically, such people are often obese and could exist for months on their fat storage, nutrition requirements aside.
I fault the popular weight-loss organizations for not recognizing food– especially carbohydrate– addiction. Instead, they have their weekly weigh-ins, allot “points” to foods, or sell high-carbohydrate foods at exorbitant prices. If they honestly addressed the addiction, they would likely cure their obese clients and put themselves out of business, just as a cure for cancer would be a conflict of interest to the cancer-fighting organizations. Given human nature, one has to wonder if cures are intentionally suppressed so that these organizations stay in business.