Is our food addictive in America? Or just a bad habit?

Addictions are tough to break; habits, not so much.

Although most people think they’re addicted to food; I believe that most of our poor eating habits are just that—habits. And habits can be broken. Unlike cocaine, heroin or even caffeine, bad eating habits can be replaced easily with good eating habits that feature delicious, filling and super healthy foods. (And if it is a drug addiction problem please seek the help you deserve).

Over the past few years, I have seen hundreds of people switch from the toxic Western diet to 4Leaf and are thrilled with the results. Just today, one of my local friends posted this comment beneath one of Lisa’s recipes:

Lisa’s Vegetable Lasagna — a great meal that everyone loves, but they don’t become addicted. They finish their meal feeling satisfied and happy.

Hi Lisa – This lasagna is unbelievable! It tastes terrific, and — though I would NEVER have believed it — you do not even miss the cheese! Instant famiy favorite — including my five-year-old! Thank you so much for this great recipe! LTB in Stonington

This is exactly what I am talking about; we’ve all been eating cheese and butter for so long that we think that we must be addicted. Yet when we understand what a 100% plant-based 4Leaf meal can taste like, we realize that we’ve just been practicing a disease-promoting bad habit for most of our lives.

Just last week on the Dr. Oz Show, they polled the viewing audience across America with this question, “Do you think that you may be addicted to food?” To me the results were astounding:

    • 63 percent said YES
    • 19 percent said MAYBE
    • Total of 82% think that they may be addicted to food.

Fast Food “Addiction” is a widespread phenomenon in America

Those are staggering numbers. Although the Oz sampling is not statistically significant,  it suggests that some 200 million American adults may be having difficulty controlling their eating impulses. Some may truly be addicted, but my guess is that most are just suffering from nutrient deficiency and a bad habit of eating meat, dairy and eggs three meals a day.

No matter how much they eat of the salt, fat, sugar, cheese, butter and white flour-laden foods; their body is telling them to keep on eating. And at least 83 percent of Americans are doing just that—so much so that there they now have their own organization: And we now have the fattest nation in the history of humankind.

CNN reported on a study in 2010 that appeared on Link to the complete article appears at the end of this post. From the March 30, 2010 article:

Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive.

A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found.

Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain, according to Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Florida. Eventually the pleasure centers “crash,” and achieving the same pleasure–or even just feeling normal–requires increasing amounts of the drug or food, says Kenny, the lead author of the study.

Not picking on Domino’s; just haven’t featured them lately. ALL fast food producers are in the same deadly business.

Our food producers have mastered the process of adding just the right balance of sugar, fat, salt, cheese, butter and white flour such that we all begin to behave as if we were addicts. Yet, when presumed addicts shift to a 4Leaf, whole plants diet-style—and can eat all they want, when they want; they tend to fill up long before they’ve eaten too many calories. And they say goodbye to their former “addictions.”

AND, they begin getting all those nutrients that were missing in the typical Western diet. Whenever I think about our food producers, I will always think of this Wendell Berry quote that I posted yesterday for the first time:

People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health—-and are treated by the health industry which pays no attention to food. —-Wendell Berry

J. Morris Hicks, author and activist. Working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

What about the health industry? All we have to do is name this addictive eating disorder and they will have a drug for it. Our health industry is fond of acronyms like COPD; how about CFAD for this? Chronic Food Addiction Disorder?

The Bottom Line. While the great majority of our nation believes that they may be addicted to food, I truly believe that the most of those “addicts” could replace their bad eating habits within six weeks on a 4Leaf eating regimen—simply deriving over 80 percent of their calories from whole, plant-based foods.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

Want to receive some occasional special news from us? You may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page.

And if you like what 4-Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our new “4-Leaf Gear” store. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

Fatty foods may cause cocaine-like addiction

By Sarah Klein,
March 30, 2010 4:22 p.m. EDT

SHARE and rate this post below…One more thing, occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard.

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to Is our food addictive in America? Or just a bad habit?

  1. Bill K. says:


    Many food companies are adding known addicting substances to the ingredient lists of some common foods. Cafeine can be found in most drinks now even those not advertised as having cafeine or as an energy drink. Wheat products have traces of Opiats in them which is why bread can be addicting. Even though I believe that our food addiction is mainly psychosematic I also believe that we are being deceptively, chemically addicted by some food products as well.


  2. Anne says:

    I feel like I was one off those rats. It wasn’t until I found your book and doing some more research with Dr. McDougall and Dr. Barnard that I started connecting the dots. I had been vegetarian for 4 years, but still had those crazy eating patterns. No longer have those crazy eating habits. Now have an understanding of why I was always hungry for salt or sugar and the need to have cheese.

  3. huracan says:

    “The Pleasure Trap”, an interesting read by Lisle and Goldhamer, elucidates some of what goes on with our approach to food. Get it here:

  4. rick says:

    The term I like best to describe the drug like affect of certain foods is low-grade addiction. Sure it is nothing close to heroin or cocaine, but everyone has to eat in this insanely unhealthy food environment that has been created to make us all food addicts. Sure we are all free to eat a whole foods plant based diet, but that is easier said than done.

    The following is a quote from the great CNN article linked on today’s blog:
    “Not surprisingly, the rats that gorged themselves on the human food quickly became obese. But their brains also changed. By monitoring implanted brain electrodes, the researchers found that the rats in the third group gradually developed a tolerance to the pleasure the food gave them and had to eat more to experience a high.”

    For more information I would recommend Breaking the Food Seduction by Neal Barnard and his talk on the 2005 Healthy Lifestyle DVDs sold by

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