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Does Eating a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet Cure Food Addiction?

Does Eating a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet Cure Food Addiction?

As a recovering food addict, here’s what I’ve learned:

As someone who suffered many years with eating disorders and disordered eating, I would say that my drug, my comfort, my numbing agent, my escape for much of my life was food. Yes, I was (spoiler alert), and still am a food addict.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s define addiction as a drive to use a substance inappropriately (in this case food), or have a behavior (i.e. gambling) that seems so strong as to be out of our control. In the case of food addictions, the behavior part is more an ingrained habit than an addiction.

So, yes, historically, I was an out-of-control food addict for many decades. Ten-plus years ago, I started on a journey that is chronicled in my book, Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back. My journey led me to eat WFPB and adopt a vegan lifestyle.

The benefits of my journey to a wonderful relationship with food were:

  • Sustained weight loss: 20-25 lbs, which is more than the 10-15 extra lbs I always complained about
  • Much less joint pain due to reduced inflammation
  • Mental clarity
  • Better sleep
  • Confidence that I have much less risk of diseases that other family members had suffered from, such as cancer, dementia, heart disease, etc
  • More energy
  • More peace around food - I created a loving relationship with food 
  • Cravings for unhealthy (snack/junk) food are completely gone!
  • The gratification that my choices are good for animals and the planet

But I have this lingering question: Am I still a food addict?

Yes and no. As mentioned above, there are two aspects to addiction. One is the substance that drives you … in this case the food itself. The second is the behavior or habit of using food inappropriately.


Let’s unpack this conversation. 


1. As I discuss in my book, most highly processed foods include salt, sugar and other additives in large enough quantities that you develop a physiological addiction or craving.

Now that I know this, I only eat whole, plant-based food, and I am not putting anything in my body that is unhealthy and creates unhealthy cravings. It is easiest to understand this with sugar. If you eat refined sugars, not only do you have insulin spikes that have you craving more sugar to avoid crashing, but there is also a reaction in your gut that creates a craving. Many people say they could never give up sweets without a real understanding that there are factors working against them just because of the current level of consumption. The same thing happens with cheese, and other foods with additives that create chronic cravings.


2. A WFPB diet eliminated my cravings.

I was all too familiar with these cravings and often felt completely out of control around certain foods. The cravings were so strong that at times I believed the food was talking to me. In reality, it was me talking to me, rationalizing why it was ok at the moment to eat unreasonable amounts of certain foods that were addictive. It was very noisy in my head when I was making food choices!

Because my diet is now WFPB, I am not eating these foods anymore and I can tell you that I don’t miss them at all. So, yes, the addiction to the foods I used to eat are gone.


3. The addictive behavior is curbed but not gone.

On the other hand, the addictive behavior has not gone away completely. After all the years of making food choices for many of the wrong reasons, I now realize that it wasn’t just the specific food that was the addiction, but the choice to fill certain voids (i.e. boredom, stress, sadness) with the distraction of food. Yes, I would head straight for the refrigerator or pantry when I was avoiding dealing with any negative emotions. I don’t know if that is an addiction or a habit, but I can tell you that my change in diet did not completely change that reaction. I still find myself heading to the kitchen at times when I am avoiding something, but now it is different. Now I can open the refrigerator, and if I choose to eat something, it is something healthy that won’t hurt me. 


4. Recognizing when to stop - feeling full and satisfied.

Another part of the addictive behavior was completely ignoring the signal that I am satisfied or even full when eating. I would continue to eat knowing I was no longer hungry and at times even painfully full. I rarely do that now, but if I do on occasion, with a WFPB diet, my body digests much of the plant-based foods more quickly and more efficiently. So I am not going to bed in pain, ever!


Yes, I do believe that a WFPB diet is the cure to a food addiction. But, one of the important components of overcoming destructive food addictions is always having healthy food available. Read The Ingredients Superloafs were created specifically for that reason. They are the cleanest, healthiest, tastiest packaged (not processed) for convenience, foods on the market.


Written by Bobbi Giudicelli - Co-Founder of Read The Ingredients, and author of “Freedom From a Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back”. Bobbi tells her story that led to her creating the recipes of the Read The Ingredients Superloafs. She is passionate about sharing the gift of a vital, active life at any age.
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