Feb 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm #1233977
As a follow on to the thread that wandered off-topic in general backpacking.
I was thinking about this some more today in regard to food and obesity. In our near past, food would not have met the need as addictive as it was merely a necessity, and we rarely had access to excess. But let's face it: to survive as a species to this point, we are evolved to be hard-wired to seek high calorie, easy and salty foods. If addiction is spending the rest of your life in abstinence or indulgence, then surely food (the 'unhealthy but tasty kinds) is addictive.
Personally I have found that, to deal with my cravings for alcohol, I more and more find it hard to resist food cravings. It's as if _ only have so much resolve and will-power, so end up choosing how best to spend my will-power. It feels that if I removed all my favourite but fattening foods AND alcohol from my life, I really wouldn't have anything to look forward to. No reward worth working towards. Even when hiking, when things get tough I tell myself "Just get through this tough patch and when you get home you can reward yourself with a pizza". It really helps to motivate me in many aspects of my life.
Am I just a weak-willed sorry old human, or am I fully human???Feb 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm #1477173
The will finite. We use will power and self discipline to get started. When we start to get pleasure from that which we have have willed our selves to do -pleasure begins to take over from steely self discipline and it becomes almost effortless. Example: I can get a sweet tooth when I eat junk, but when I decide to abstain from it over time my tastes change and really sweet foods become unappetizing. The same goes for fried foods-I love them but when I spend time eating right I find them a lot less appetizing -even the smell is kinda gross. I actually dream about broccoli with good olive oil at night, never thought that would happen to me.
but then if Im out or for what ever reason I eat some junk food It starts to taste better again. I wonder if the body craves what ever food you train it to crave or it believes is available?Feb 11, 2009 at 4:22 pm #1477177
Hmmm, I wish I was like that. After too many rounds of'cutting' for bodybuilding competitions, I feel I have taught my brain to crave the wrong foods. For 3-4 months at a time eating nothing but lean, healthy foods while getting super lean and exercising like crazy, I always came out the other end with crazy bad food cravings. I can't face broccoli any more becuase I ate sooo much of it in those days that it's an aversion.
Man, dieting is a baaaaad idea. I wasn't fat to begin with, so why did I let people talk me into dieting like that?Feb 11, 2009 at 4:30 pm #1477182
I guess this gives me some insight into what our ancestors must have gone through to survive. Imagine every year going through a harsh and hungry winter, to come out in the spring ready to hoover up anything you could get your hands on. It makes me understand why humans developed food source which to me seem repulsive. Like I've always wondered "Who was the first person to attempt to eat an artichoke or a lobster or a snail", and now I think I know the answer: "someone desperately hungry in a way most of us in the developed countries can't imagine"Feb 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm #1477187
I can only guess of coarse, but maybe the diets you were on were good for leaning out, but where lacking in other nutrients so you had cravings for other things? I defiantly start to have cravings for junk when I dont eat a more well rounded meal. I think those cravings come from the fact that junk foods are usually fast and easy energy. It helps to eat a lot of foods with some satiety- like "good" fats olive oils,nuts,fish ect. It might not help that you associate some good foods with negative experiences of forcing down foods you may not have cared so much for. But who knows?Feb 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm #1477189
"Who was the first person to attempt to eat an artichoke or a lobster or a snail",
And think how the Einsteins back then would be using their intelligence looking for new food sources.Feb 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm #1477190
>the diets you were on were good for leaning out, but where lacking in other nutrients so you had cravings for other things?
I think the diet itself was very well balanced. More likely (in hindsight), a female dieting to 8% bodyfat is not healthy no matter what the nutrients in the diet. If your body thinks it's starving it seems some weird things go on in the brain. It yells at you "Get as many calories in you as fast as you can", and doesn't know when to stop. This is what I reckon our ancestors had to survive on a cyclical basis. Near starvation resulting in insatiable appetites to put the weight back on before the next famine.
So what I need now is a famine. Or a little more restraint. I eat mostly healthy foods these days, just too much of them. It would be nice if restraint came in a pill!Feb 11, 2009 at 5:04 pm #1477191
@cbertLocale: N. California
i seldom eat or crave junk food or sweets
most of my meals are vegetarian and actually even vegan, though i am neither: wife and i both eat seafood and sometimes eggs or cheese. more than half the meals i take, though, would qualify as vegan. after helping one of our cats recover from a nearly fatal accident (she lost a leg and was in prolonged shock, not producing red cells for a week, rejected the blood transfusions, etc), and after seeing her fight so hard to live and even in her extreme pain, allow me to care for her and actually began purring one day when i was looking at her in her miserable little corner, in obvious extreme pain, as i told her how much we loved her and were so grateful she was alive – after that, i couldn't stomach eating most animals, so haven't had any mammals or birds since that day.
when i crave something, it's usually veggies (and when i crave veggies, it's usually asparagus or kale), sometimes fish
my only real "weakness" is ale & it has probably become an addiction
despite chronic pain for quite a few years (some years better than others), i've abstained from pain medications except for really bad days or bad days when i have to be able to work – i have seen how easily people can become addicted to these. i might take 15 or so pain pills a year (including OTC stuff), though i have vicodin available. i prefer to take no medications at all, though sometimes i have taken something for a while at the doctor's suggestion.
i was taking a medication for about a year for migraines & one side effect is that it can create cravings for alcohol, basically if you drink while taking it, you can become addicted & this seems to have happened to me. prior to this experience, i've always been able to leave the ale out for periods of time if i wanted to, but since taking the med, i've had horrible cravings for the first time in my life
interestingly, when i stopped the migraine medication, i began craving eggs (among more horrible side effects, including much worse and much more constant migraines than before). turns out eggs are particularly high in choline, and part of the withrawal from the migraine medicine includes a notable shortage of acetylcholine production
so other than this new and remaining craving for ale, my body has almost always told me what it needs with good/appropriate cravings, which i consider luckyFeb 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm #1477197
Can you tell me what migraine meds had this effect?
RE: pain meds, I realised the first time I ever had an intramuscular injection of pethedine that this stuff could be highly addictive to me. OTOH, stimulants like cocaine and speed make me feel terrible. I absolutely hate them. This is not uncommon, certain personality types are more prone to addiction with a particular class of drugs but not others. Maybe I'm already too speedy and like the feeling of being slowed down, others are more sluggish and get a buzz out of being revved up. Then there are some people that will take anything and everything that alters their conscious, sometimes at the same time.
That's another thing I've noticed with 'dieting'. It increases anxiety, makes it harder to relax and sleep, etc…I guess food is a sedative of sorts, so no wonder I like it so much ;)Feb 11, 2009 at 5:37 pm #1477199
@cbertLocale: N. California
it's an ssri – primarily used as antidepressant – doc was trying it out on me for migraine/intestinal migraine
i'd say it was a fail & most studies done w/ this treatment concur
while migraines were somewhat less severe/frequent while taking it, other side effects far outweighed the minimal benefit (weight gain, alcohol addiction, possible neurological symptoms, reduced heat tolerance, etc)Feb 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm #1477218
>it's an ssri – primarily used as antidepressant – doc was trying it out on me for migraine/intestinal migraine
Yes, I am familiar with it. We are currently involved in a study looking at the best ways to treat depressed alcoholics, and it's not a trivial thing. Not the least of the problm is that *most* of the drugs used to treat the alcoholism also happen to increase depressive symptoms. So is it better to be an alcoholic, or more depressed? Or just toughen up and stop drinking without the drugs??
The SSRIs have indeed been shown to be pretty useless for most migraine sufferers, but there appears to be a sub-type of alcoholics (type A) who find setraline actually helps them with their abstinence. Go figure. To say the very least, the response of most people to antidepressant treatment is highly variable, and with a placebo response for SSRI treatment at around 50%, there are a lot of professionals who feel that the SSRIs in particular don't really help most people beyond giving them a pill.Feb 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm #1478015
For those who want to know more of the science behind nicotine (and other) addictions, here's some snippets taken from the last ten years of medical research:
On Nicotine addiction:
“Nicotine exposure can have long lasting effects on nervous system function, some of which must contribute to nicotine dependence. Up-regulation, an increase in numbers of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, occurs on exposure to nicotine at high concentrations”
“Nicotine is a powerful stimulant of the sympathoadrenal system, causing the release of peripheral catecholamines and activation of catecholamine biosynthesis. In previous reports, we have studied the mechanisms by which short-term nicotine treatment regulates tyrosine hydroxylase (TH-the precursor to dopamine) in adrenal medulla. In this report, we study the effects of chronic nicotine treatment on adrenal TH gene expression….Chronic nicotine administration also elicited a sustained increase in adrenal TH gene transcription rate, which persisted for up to 7 days after the final nicotine injection… These results demonstrate that repeated nicotine injections administered chronically over 1 to 2 weeks lead to sustained stimulation of the TH gene and consequent induction of TH gene expression in rat adrenal medulla. These studies support the hypothesis that chronic nicotine administration produces long-lasting cellular changes in central nervous system that lead to sustained transcriptional responses.”
“Few studies have evaluated the impact of smoking cessation on objective measures of sleep. The present study assessed the long-term effects of tobacco smoking abstinence on sleep and depression. A total of 15 chronic smokers with Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) scores of less than 9 were evaluated. Subjects were screened for baseline data when they were smoking chronically. They underwent a 5-week psychological treatment for tobacco smoking, after which their depressive symptoms and sleep architecture were evaluated at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of abstinence. We report the results of the seven patients who completed 1 year of evaluations and of those patients who achieved only partial abstinence. Polysomnographic recordings were taken, level of depression was measured with the HAM-D, and urinary cotinine levels also were evaluated. HAM-D scores were analyzed with and without sleep items. Nicotine abstinence reduced latency to rapid eye movement sleep and increased HAM-D scores, suggesting that chronic smokers have depressive symptoms that may be controlled by nicotine administration.”
“Nicotine is a developmental neurotoxicant but the proposed "sensitization-homeostasis" model postulates that even in adulthood nicotine permanently reprograms synaptic function. We administered nicotine to rats throughout gestation or in adulthood, simulating plasma levels in smokers, with evaluations on Day 105, 110, 120, 130 and 180……Our results indicate that the effects of nicotine withdrawal in adults show persistent changes after nicotine exposure, commensurate with the sensitization-homeostasis model. These effects may contribute to lifelong vulnerability to readdiction.”
“The present studies were done to investigate the effect of long-term nicotine treatment against nigrostriatal damage in non-human primates. Monkeys were administered nicotine in drinking water for 6 months to provide chronic but intermittent delivery as with smoking. Plasma nicotine levels ranged from 10 to 15 ng/mL, which were within the range in cigarette smokers………….results indicating that nicotine acts at the striatal level to restore/maintain dopaminergic function. These data further support the possibility that nicotine contributes to the lower incidence of Parkinson's disease in smokers.”
“Our results show that…changes in serotonin content and serotonin 1A receptor expression, are present when nicotine is withdrawn, even after a long time, suggesting a role of serotonin in mood disorders eventually occurring following smoking cessation.”
On the genetics of addiction in general:
“Several twin studies have been published in the substance dependence field, all showing significantly higher rates of dependence among twins than among non-twin siblings and higher rates among monozygotic than di-zygotic twins. Published heritability estimates include 34% for males dependent on heroin, 55% for males dependent on alcohol, 52% for females dependent on marijuana, and 61% for cigarette-dependent twins of both sexes. More studies of heritability are needed across drug types and sexes, but the evidence suggests significant genetic contribution to the risk of addiction comparable to that seen in other chronic illnesses.”
“In women, genetic risk factors have a moderate impact on the probability of ever using cannabis and a strong impact on the liability to heavy use, abuse, and, probably, dependence. By contrast, the family and social environment substantially influences risk of ever using cannabis, but plays little role in the probability of developing heavy cannabis use or abuse.”
“Twins were recruited through alcohol and drug treatment programs. With structural equation modeling, genetic and environmental estimates were obtained for use and DSM-III abuse/dependence of sedatives, opioids, cocaine, stimulants, and cannabis as well as any illicit drug. Analyses were conducted separately for males and females. Models included thresholds based on population prevalence of use or abuse/dependence and ever having been in treatment. Genetic influences were found for most measures. They were generally stronger for males than females and for clinical diagnoses of abuse/dependence compared to use. Common environmental influences played a greater role in use than abuse/dependence.”
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