08/09/2011 02:49 EDT | Updated 10/09/2011 05:12 EDT

Food Addiction: What Are We Searching For?

From heartbreak to frustrations, many of us run to food to fill a void or feed our anger so much so that North America is facing an obesity epidemic -- an addiction to food in its own right. Maybe we can find love and comfort with whole foods.

With the recent passing of yet another great talent, Amy Winehouse has joined a host of other artists that succumbed to an addiction to drugs and alcohol. And while the situation is nothing short of tragic, I couldn't help but think about addictions in a wider context, particularly on the subject of food.

Granted the difference between drugs and alcohol to food is significant, however is there a common thread that weaves addictions together and are we all just searching for the same thing?

The Start of an Epidemic

From what I've seen in practice, the majority of us (myself included) turn to food emotionally and for years I have helped others form a positive connection with their food so that they're able to feel sexy from the inside out. From heartbreak to frustrations, many of us run to food to fill a void or feed our anger so much so that North America is facing an obesity epidemic -- an addiction to food in its own right.

These foods are quick grab-and-go bags of chips and greased brown paper bags filled with burgers and fries. We do it because even though we know that in the long term we're bound to acquire cottage cheese thighs or clogged arteries, it satisfies an immediate need as we go "back to black" as Winehouse once described it in an effort to satiate a deep craving.

The Food Addiction

And these days it's easy when the North American diet is filled with chemical compounds that stimulate the brain's secretion of opiate-like, "feel-good chemicals" like dopamine which continually fuel and drive our cravings. In my opinion, we become addicted to these foods and are so vulnerable to the effects of this dopamine hyper-stimulation that we get caught up in an addictive cycle... much like drugs, alcohol and dysfunctional partnerships with others.

Taking Positive Steps for Change

If the common thread that binds addictions together is love, comfort and the need to escape, then maybe we can take the first step to achieving that positively with whole foods. Forget the micro-management of calories and fat because by eating foods that live outside the box we're able to tap into the part of us that's lacking and nourish it. And with me, it always begins with food that continually gives back.

Killer Kale Salad

½ bunch kale

½ beet shredded

1 carrot shredded

1 bulb roasted garlic roughly chopped
Handful (or more) mixed nuts: pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds - pan roasted for 5mins on low

2 tbsp hemp hearts

Cranberries for topping

1 tbsp olive oil

Pretty In Pink Dressing

1 heaping tbsp tahini paste

½ lemon squeezed

1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar

1 tbsp honey (or more to taste)

Begin by bunching up the kale and slicing it as thinly as possible. Add this to a pan with heated oil on medium heat. With tongs, rotate the kale until leaves become bright green and they're just about cooked -- about five minutes. Remove from heat and spoon into bowls and top with shredded beet, carrot and cabbage. Add roasted garlic, mixed nuts and hemp hearts. Set aside. (If you're really hungry, you can add this veggie medley on wild rice.)

Combine all ingredients for dressing and stir until well combined. Top on salad and


Serves two.

What I love this recipe is that it's not only quick to make but it's delicious. I've fed the biggest processed eating individual I know (not naming any names here) who quickly became a kale-convert following this recipe. Mission accomplished.

It was easy because while packaged foods that contain low-cost ingredients that will jolt the body into a quick high followed by a crash, whole foods sustain and nourish the body to optimum health. These foods, according to Chinese medicine, tap into an energetic part of us that nourish organs and the emotions associated with them when imbalanced leaving our taste buds and souls dancing. By turning to real food we're able to re-establish a connection with ourselves that's lost through various addictions from unhealthy processed foods to drug and alcohol.

Maybe if the millions out there like Amy who seek comfort in their desperation could take a moment to form a delicious connection they just might realize that it's the first step to the type of soul-igniting rehab that they've been looking for.

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