Seduction, Addiction...New Diet Buzz Words?

I've seen a lot of hype about "Breaking The Food Seduction" by Dr. Neal Barnard, MD. According to Dr. Barnard's book: Whether you're drawn to chocolate, cookies, potato chips, cheese, or burgers and fries, we all have foods we can't seem to resist—foods that sabotage our best efforts to lose weight and improve our health. These foods are winning the battle—but that's because we're fighting it in the wrong place. As physician and leading health researcher Dr. Neal Barnard explains in this groundbreaking book, banishing these cravings is not a question of willpower or psychology—it's a matter of biochemistry. Hmmm. Biochemistry. Another new buzzword for the diet community or actually something that really works?

Again, according to Dr. Barnard: Breaking the Food Seduction reveals the diet and litestyle

changes that can break these stubborn craving cycles. Using everyday examples,

questionnaires, and practical tips, the book delivers:

This accessible and practical book is essential reading for

anyone who wants to lose weight, lower cholesterol, feel more energetic, and

get control of their health once and for all.

Is cheddar cheese addictive? How about steak? Or Sugar? IS

there evidence that these foods might actually have brain effects that keep you

coming back, despite their health risks?

I think many people have experienced food addictions. Take

chocolate, for example. To some people, chocolate is an occasional treat. But

for a true chocolate addict, it is a deep-seated need. You know the ones who can't make it

past 3:00 with out a Kiss.

It turns out that chocolate does not merely tickle your

taste buds; it actually works inside your brain in much the same way opiate

drugs do. Researchers gave 26 volunteers a drug called naloxone, an

opiate-blocker used in emergency rooms to stop heroin, morphine, and other

narcotics from affecting the brain. It turned out that naloxone blocked much of

chocolate's appeal. When they offered volunteers a tray filled with Snicker's

bars, M & M's, chocolate chip cookies, and Oreos, chocolate was not much

more exciting than a crust of dry bread.

In other words, chocolate's attraction does not come simply

from its creamy texture or deep brown color. It appears to stimulate the same

part of the brain that morphine acts on. For all intents and purposes, it is a

drug—not necessarily a bad one and not a terribly strong one, but powerful

enough nonetheless to keep us coming back for more. Go figure! Now

you'll have to enter chocolate rehab.

Further research showed that when people are taken off meat,

dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, the desire for cheese, in particular,

lingers on much more strongly than for other foods.

Get this:

In 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research

Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C., reported a remarkable discovery.

Analyzing samples of cow's milk, they found traces of a chemical that looked

very much like morphine. They put it to one chemical test after another. And,

finally, they arrived at the conclusion that, in fact, it is morphine. There is

not a lot of it, and not every sample had detectable levels. But there is

indeed some morphine in both cow's milk and human milk.

Morphine, of course, is an opiate and is highly addictive.

So how did it get into milk? At first, the researchers theorized that it must

have come from the cows' diets. After all, morphine used in hospitals comes

from poppies and is also produced naturally by a few other plants that the cows

might have been eating. But it turns out that cows actually produce it within

their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and

other opiates, are apparently produced in cows' livers and can end up in their


Cow's milk—or the milk of any other species, for that

matter—also contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion

to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins. A cup of cow's milk

contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein

is concentrated in the production of cheese.

When you drink a glass of milk or eat a slice of cheese,

stomach acid and intestinal bacteria snip the casein molecular chains into

casomorphins of various lengths. One of them, a short string made up of just

five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine.

What are these opiates doing there, hidden in milk proteins?

It appears that the opiates from mother's milk produce a calming effect on the

infant and, in fact, may be responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant

bond. No, it's not all lullabies and cooing. Psychological bonds always have a

physical underpinning. Like it or not, mother's milk has a drug-like effect on

the baby's brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to

nurse and get the nutrients all babies need.

Like heroin or codeine, casomorphins slow intestinal

movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why

adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers


If you are hooked on sugar, chocolate, cheese, or meat, what

do you do about it?

Dr. Barnard believes foods can actually come to your rescue.

If you start your day with a good breakfast, hunger is less likely to fuel

cravings. And if your lunch, dinner, and snacks include foods that keep your

blood sugar steady throughout the day—beans, green vegetables, unprocessed

grains, and fruits, for example, instead of sugary foods or white bread—you'll

be less likely to dip into unhealthy foods later on.

He also recommends eating enough food, so that your

appetite-taming hormone leptin is working right. Leptin shuts down whenever you

go on a starvation diet, leaving your appetite out of control. Exercise, rest,

and social support all help, too.

Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine tests positive for opiates from her poppy-seed muffins.