Food Addiction Symptoms

Food Addiction Symptoms

Article written by Dr. Vera Tarman (podcast guest)
Edited by Sandra Gentleman, RD

Food Addiction: Yes, it is a real thing

Food addiction is a controversial yet increasingly recognized condition. Although not yet included as a diagnosis in the DSM-5, a growing body of research shows that for some people, certain foods can trigger brain responses similar to substance addictions.

WebMD Food Addiction article

What Happens in the Brain

Studies show that hyperpalatable foods – those high in sugar, fat, and salt – activate the brain’s reward circuitry in ways comparable to drugs like cocaine. Over time, this can override signals of fullness and lead to compulsive, uncontrolled eating despite negative consequences – the definition of food addiction

What to Know About Food Addiction

Key Signs and Symptoms

Common signs of food addiction include

  • Strong cravings and obsession over food
  • Continued overeating past the point of feeling full
  • Using foods to deal with distressing emotions
  • Failed attempts to cut back on trigger foods
  • Needing more of particular foods to get the same effect
  • Inability to stop eating (or thinking about food) despite physical, emotional, and social harm

The Importance of Abstinence: Most important Recovery Tip

For those struggling with food addiction, abstaining from trigger foods provides the best chance for recovery. Curbing trigger foods (esp junk foods) only works for a short time.

This allows brain pathways to reset and takes away the addictive temptation

Eating Disorder Hope – Food Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Help

Total abstinence from products with added sugars and refined flours is often recommended for long term food sobriety and food serenity.

Seeking Help – Ask for Support

If you see signs of food addiction in yourself or a loved one, seeking help is crucial.

What is the Evidence for Food Addiction – A Systemic Review

Useful treatment options include

  • Get support: 12-step food based programs: These provide social support and sponsor relationships to promote abstinence.
  • Finding a food addiction coach or counsellor
  • Check out the Facebook group: I’m Sweet Enough: Sugar Free for  Life for free ongoing support.
  • Read books: Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction, podcast: Food Junkies – is only a start.

Dr. Vera Tarman, MD, FCFP, ABAM MSc. is the Medical Director of Renascent and a senior staff physician at Salvation Army. Dr Tarman has a special interest in the clinical syndrome of food addiction and has presented at numerous public forums to educate and advocate on this subject. She is author of Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction, and is cohost of the popular Food Junkies Podcast. She is also the founder of the free Facebook group, called “I’m Sweet Enough: Sugar-Free for Life”. Please check out her utube channel: veratarmanmd.

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My Wife the Dietitian
Healthy Cookware

Healthy Cookware

Author Sarah Glinski, RD
Edited by Sandra Gentleman, RD

Your Complete Guide to Healthy Cookware

While many of us focus on what we eat, we often forget to consider how we prepare our food. From cast iron to stainless steel to non-stick, there are endless options for cooking our food. But how do you know whether you’re using healthy cookware?

In this blog post, we review the pros and cons of six different types of cookware, so you can make an informed decision about what tools you use to cook.


Many of us are familiar with non-stick cookware. Manufactured using a liquid coating, non-stick cookware is a popular choice for many due to its ease of use.


  • Easy to clean.
  • Requires less oil.
  • Even cooking (non-stick coatings evenly distribute heat across the cookware’s surface).
  • Convenient for delicate foods such as fish, eggs, and pancakes.


  • Durability issues (over time, the non-stick coating can get scratched or wear off).
  • Not suitable for high heat (excessive heat can damage the coating and release harmful fumes).
  • Not compatible with metal utensils, which can scratch off the non-stick coating.
  • Limited lifespan leads to more money spent over time due to replacing the cookware.

The Verdict: Non-stick cookware can be a convenient tool in your kitchen, provided you use and care for it properly. Avoid using non-stick cookware with high heat and metal utensils to help prolong its lifespan.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a kitchen staple known for its durability and versatility.


  • Excellent heat retention, making it ideal for slow cooking and braising.
  • Can be used on various cooking surfaces, such as stovetops, ovens, and grills.
  • Durable and resistant to scratches and dents.
  • Adds iron to foods, which can be helpful for people with low iron levels.
  • When properly seasoned, has natural non-stick properties.


  • Requires seasoning, which involves applying oil and baking it onto the cookware’s surface.
  • Cast iron is heavy compared to other types of cookware.
  • Slow to heat up.
  • Can rust if not properly cared for.
  • Not dishwasher safe.

The Verdict: While cast iron has an initial learning curve, it is a piece of healthy cookware that can last for generations if properly cared for.

Stainless Steel

Like cast iron, stainless steel is a popular choice of cookware due to its durability and versatility.


  • Stainless steel is known for its rust, corrosion, and stain resistance.
  • Can withstand high cooking temperatures.
  • Does not react with acidic or alkaline foods so it won’t impart undesirable flavours to your dishes.
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  • Compatible with induction cooktops.


  • Poor heat retention can result in uneven cooking if not preheated properly.
  • Prone to sticking if the cookware is not adequately oiled.
  • Hot handles require the use of potholders or oven mitts.
  • Quality stainless steel cookware can be more expensive compared to other types of cookware.
  • Heavier than some other types of cookware.

The Verdict: While expensive, stainless steel cookware is reliable and long-lasting. Its durability and non-reactive properties make it the perfect healthy cookware choice.


Copper cookware is known for its excellent heat conduction and high-end appearance.


  • Superior heat conductivity, which provides precise temperature control and even cooking.
  • Responsive to temperature change.
  • Attractive appearance.
  • Suitable for various cooking methods.
  • Has a long lifespan when properly cared for.


  • Copper can react with certain acidic or alkaline foods, producing a metallic taste.
  • Requires regular polishing to avoid tarnishing or developing a patina.
  • High price point.
  • Not compatible with induction cooking surfaces.
  • More susceptible to dents and scratches than other types of cookware.

The Verdict: Copper cookware provides excellent heat conductivity and can be a stylish addition to your kitchen. However, it requires careful maintenance and can be more costly compared to other types of cookware.


Often overshadowed by other types of cookware, glass cookware has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


  • Non-reactive and won’t impact unwanted flavours to your food.
  • Transparency allows you to monitor cooking progress without removing the lid.
  • Can be used for baking, roasting, and serving.
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.


  • Glass is fragile and may break or shatter when exposed to rapid temperature changes.
  • Slow to heat up.
  • Limited stovetop use.
  • Not for high-temperature cooking.
  • Heavy compared to other types of cookware.

The Verdict: While glass is a popular choice for baking, roasting, and serving, it typically isn’t compatible with stovetop cooking. Keep this in mind when deciding which types of glass cookware you invest in.


Ceramic cookware, often coated with a layer of ceramic material, has become popular for its non-stick properties and attractive appearance.


  • Non-stick surface.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Even heat distribution.
  • Attractive design.
  • Lightweight.
  • Can be transferred between cooking surfaces (e.g., from the stovetop to the oven).


  • The ceramic coating can wear off over time.
  • Not suitable for high heat.
  • More fragile than other types of cookware.
  • Not induction compatible.
  • Not compatible with metal utensils 

The Verdict: Provided you care for and handle ceramic cookware properly, it can be an excellent addition to your repertoire of healthy cookware.

Final Thoughts

When choosing healthy cookware, there are no right or wrong answers. Each type of cookware reviewed in this blog post has advantages and disadvantages. To make the most of your cookware, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use and care.

Don’t be shy about trying new types of cookware – you may just find your new best kitchen friend!

Listen in to Episode

Nutrition Nuggets  #36 Healthy Cookware

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman, or on YouTube.

My Wife the Dietitian
Arthritis Best Foods

Arthritis Best Foods

Edited and Updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD
Written by Samantha Holmgren, RD (guest on podcast and blog contributor)

Arthritis Best Foods

A question that often gets asked is, “What are the best foods for arthritis?” These foods can help you balance the inflammation in your body, reduce health risks, and, best of all, help you feel better.

However, there is one caveat.

There is no food so wonderful that it will permanently grant health and there is no food so terrible that it will permanently ruin your health — unless you have an anaphylactic reaction or get the worst food poisoning ever. That sort of black-and-white thinking gets in the way of making real changes that can help you feel better.
Focus on making small changes that shift you towards a more balanced lifestyle that feeds your wellness. One place to start is to include the following foods in your diet.

1. Fatty Fish for those omega-3 fats

Diets that include fatty fish, like salmon, trout or herring, have been associated with positive health outcomes. In addition to reducing risk and helping manage heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and other metabolic conditions, diets that include fatty fish can also help with arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Omega-3 supplements can also help people with arthritis feel better and have less pain. In one review, people who took omega-3 supplements were able to reduce the amount of NSAIDs (medications such as Advil or Aleve).

Omega-3 fats help by balancing the inflammation in our body. While inflammation is a necessary part of our immune system, chronic inflammation is detrimental. Omega-3 fats are used to make compounds that help to balance and calm the inflammatory processes.

When we talk about omega-3s fats, we also need to talk about omega-6 fats. Some amount is necessary; just like inflammation is necessary. However, most of us are eating far more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, creating an imbalance in our body. Therefore, while you are increasing your intake of fish and seeds like flax or chia, try to reduce fat intake from soybean, sunflower, safflower, and hydrogenated (or processed) fats.

Another type of healthy fat is…

2. Olive oil

This is a popular ‘healthy fat’ and for good reason. One study was a meta-analysis that looked at the effects of olive oil on inflammatory markers. This study was particularly concerned with the heart health impacts of inflammation; however, that is also relevant to arthritis because, particularly with inflammatory arthritis, you have a higher risk of heart disease due to the inflammation. Six of the studies included in that meta-analysis compared olive oil and omega-3s. They had a very similar anti-inflammatory effect, with olive oil actually having a slight edge. In real life, you don’t have to choose between them, but it goes to show just how powerful olive oil is.

Replacing some of those sources of omega-6 oils with olive oil will help your body get into a better balance, as well as providing antioxidant and antinflammatory benefits directly.

You may also find it interesting to know that the same compounds in olive oil that are anti-inflammatory in our bodies are also a great food source for the bacteria in our intestines. So olive oil is also a prebiotic and therefore good for our gut.

3. Colourful Fruits & Veggies

The same compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color are also antioxidants. In popular media, antioxidants tend to be associated with anti-aging, but they are also relevant when it comes to inflammation. Oxidative stress happens when your body has an imbalance of pro-oxidants and antioxidants and oxidative stress triggers inflammation, so having a diet filled with antioxidants from colourful fruits and veggies, as well as olive oil offers your health a huge benefit.

However, I don’t recommend going out and taking a supplement purely because it is an ‘antioxidant.’ If you include too many antioxidants, it is still an imbalance and therefore causes oxidative stress. However, that’s not an issue when it comes to eating food. So focus on adding colourful fruits and veggies to your plate.

4. Less processed food

Processing exists on a spectrum, and some processing is super helpful and healthy. Think of frozen vegetables: Depending on where you live and the time of year, the frozen vegetables are often less expensive and therefore more accessible and it can actually be fresher than the “fresh” vegetables. Frozen food stays stable and doesn’t mold or wilt.

Pulling a carrot out of the ground and knocking the dirt off gives you an unprocessed food. Nothing has been done to it.

Chopping that carrot up and cooking it is a form of processing.

Grinding wheat down into a flour is a form of processing.

Combining ingredients to make a homemade soup is a form of processing.
The far end of the spectrum includes highly processed foods created in a factory from ingredients that are extracted from food but that aren’t food on their own. Again, this can be a net positive in some cases. Vitamin and mineral supplementation or enrichment is a significant form of processing but it can have significant health impacts, such as when we started adding iodine to table salt or folic acid to wheat flour, these both improved public health, and were only possible due to processing.

However… processed food also frequently strips out fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It adds ingredients that some people are sensitive to or that may disrupt the intestinal microflora. Science Vs actually did a great podcast episode on processed food that also digs into this.

But it’s a significant grey area. The old adage about ‘everything in moderation’ line is applicable here. Including some processed foods is perfectly fine, but a lot isn’t good for you nor does it feel good.

Bottom line on processing is:

  • Eat fewer foods that are highly processed
  • Eat foods that are less processed more often (i.e. more on the pluck a veggie out of the garden end of the spectrum)

5. The Mediterranean Diet

The go-to anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean Diet. It combines everything I mentioned above: the fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish. It also emphasizes cooking at home (less processed foods). And it has been heavily studied in many different contexts so there is a lot of evidence to support following this diet. Even if it doesn’t have a major impact on your day-to-day arthritis pain, it is still helping you.

People with inflammatory health conditions, including most types of arthritis, are at an increased risk of heart disease because of the inflammation. So eating in alignment with the Mediterranean Diet can help counter that risk and improve your overall health.

The Mediterranean Diet tidily answers the question of “what.” However, the other part of the equation is the “how” of eating.

6. Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a key part of the equation. I have been a dietitian for over decade now, and I’ve seen over and over again how powerful mindful eating can be for people. It helps to break through a lot of the mental barriers we can put up around food, the disordered eating habits that we absorb living in the diet and weight obsessed culture we live in.

It also helps you reconnect with your body signals. It is so tempting to try to ignore your body when you have chronic pain and fatigue. And there are times when you just have to push through the pain and do the thing anyway because if you waited until you felt good you’d never do anything because you have chronic pain. However, those body signals are giving you information. Being able to take that information into account in your planning and how you move through the world can help you feel better in the long run.

Samantha is a registered dietitian who lives with psoriatic arthritis. She focuses on moving towards balance and wellness while living with chronic pain and fatigue. At the heart of her work is a focus on mindfulness and making small changes that have outsized impacts — the Bare Minimum Health Plan.

Samantha is passionate about helping people reconnect to their body through experiencing the pleasure and joy of eating. She loves seeing people move towards balance and wellness intuitively as they reconnect with their body wisdom.

Listen in to Episode

#99 on My Wife the Dietitian – Arthritis Best Foods, Samantha

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman, or on YouTube.

My Wife the Dietitian
Peaceful Practices

Peaceful Practices

Written by Alden Carroll, MSW, LCSW (guest on podcast and blog contributor)
Edited and Updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD

Peaceful Practices

I don’t have time for myself. There is so much to do. If I rest, I’m being lazy. When I think of myself first, I’m being selfish.

Does this sound familiar? If so, this blog is for you. It’s time for you to start making yourself a priority. Why? Because your loved ones need you to. Your body and life need you to. It’s vital for you to give yourself permission to put yourself first for once. Your happiness, well-being, and health depend on you.

When growing up

When growing up, were you taught–even if not directly– that your worth is tied to your productivity or to being thoughtful of everyone else around you before you think of yourself? If so, you are not alone. We live in a “grind” and “hustle” culture that teaches us that our value is solely based on what we produce, whether that’s money, children, a beautiful household, or other external measures that aren’t about our essential selves. We are trained to be “human doings,” not human beings. This experience has been heightened by social media platforms where we get caught up in comparing ourselves to the well curated and carefully edited lives other people portray. In our world, we don’t have many models that truly value self-care as a multifaceted process that involves body, mind, and spirit.

Best Version

In order to be the best version of yourself, to feel good, and be of maximum service to others in your life, it’s time to put yourself first.

We all have a well of energy within us. Think about energy as water in your well. If you give your water to everyone else, and don’t keep some for yourself, you become parched and burnt out. The way to start conserving energy for yourself is simple. A few Peaceful Practices a day can be a powerful start to shifting from taking care of everyone else first, at the expense of yourself, to finding a balance of caring for yourself while also managing all of your responsibilities and tending to others.


Today, starting right now as you read this, self-care can begin with just one breath.

Exhale fully, inhale deeply, and pause at the top of your breath until your body knows it’s time to exhale, then exhale fully through your mouth. Repeat this type of breath and notice any subtle shifts or changes in your body. Do you feel more calm, present, or relaxed? Did your shoulders drop a little, your muscles relax even slightly, or did you notice a pleasant release? If not, that’s ok. Keep breathing with intention. Once a little more calmness comes, pat yourself on the back and recognize that these simple breaths are a form of self-care.

That Simple

Is it really that simple? Yes. Deep breaths are a good start to inviting in more nourishment to take the edge off of stress. When you feel stress in your body, it usually manifests as tension, shallow breathing, bracing, or being stuck in your head. I’m excited to teach you simple and practical strategies to help you reduce stress and feel calmer in your life.

Ready for change

If you’re here, you most likely are ready for change. You want to support yourself in better ways whether that be through eating healthier foods, getting more sleep, or practicing ways to reduce stress.
You want to wake up with a smile on your face, feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day with ease. With The Peaceful Practices, I’d love to teach you how to live your best life by reducing stress and practicing more generous self-care.

Free Guide

Here is a link to a free guide “De-stress and Feel Calmer: 3 Simple Steps.”
You can also book a discovery call with me here: Book with me

Vanlife – Food Hacks to Eat Healthy

Vanlife – Food Hacks to Eat Healthy

Written by: Dominique Paquette
@v.for.vanlife (Guest Writer and Podcast Guest Ep 86 Vanlife – Food Hacks to Eat Healthy)
Edited and updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD


Vanlife is a growing trend for people who want some adventures on the road and to explore and see new places. Being away from home can present some challenges to eating healthy and staying well, but, with careful planning and preparation, eating on the road, through van living can be fun. Vanlife meals can be healthy and satisfying.

Although the limited space and resources may pose some challenges, with careful planning and creativity, you can maintain a nutritious diet.

Eating healthfully while living in a van or practicing vanlife is definitely possible!

Dominique Paquette is a woman who lives in her van in the summer and travels across the continent annually to visit her sons. Her two grown boys both live in the Pacific Northwest and she has been travelling across Canada for the past three summers in her van to spend time with them.

Through her experience and passion for the lifestyle, she offers some personal suggestions and practical hacks for eating well while living the vanlife.

Here are some tips:

1. Plan your meals

Before hitting the road, you can plan some meals for the day or for the next few days. This will ensure you have a well-balanced diet and you can make a shopping list accordingly.

2. Choose nutritious staples

Stock your van with water and healthy staples like whole grains (quinoa, brown rice), canned beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, canned fish, and fresh produce that can last a few days without refrigeration (apples, oranges, carrots, etc.).

3. A well-thought-out kitchen in a van is definitely a plus

If you are not quite there yet in your van design and conversion, invest in portable kitchen equipment: Get some space-saving kitchen essentials like a portable stove, a cooler or fridge, and cooking utensils to make food preparation easier. Tiny cooking accessories can also come in handy for maximizing space in the van.

4. Opt for whole food options

Instead of relying on processed or pre-packaged foods, focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These can be easily stored and prepared in small spaces.

5. Make use of local markets and farm stands

Explore local farmer’s markets or farm stands along your travels. They often offer fresh, seasonal produce, which is not only healthy but also supports local businesses.

6. Cook in batches

Save time and maximize resources by cooking in batches. Preparing larger quantities of meals will minimize cooking time and allow for easy reheating.

7. Utilize outdoor cooking

Take advantage of the great outdoors by cooking over a campfire or using a portable grill. Grilling vegetables, fish, or lean meats can add flavor and variety to your meals.

8. Make sure you have potable water

Carry a refillable water bottle and refill whenever possible to avoid reliance on single-use plastic bottles.

9. Don’t forget about snacks

Pack nutritious snacks like trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruits, or cut-up vegetables to curb hunger between meals. This will keep you fueled and prevent unhealthy cravings.

10. Stay flexible and adaptable

Embrace the vanlife mindset by being open to local food experiences. Explore new cuisines, try local specialties, and enjoy the culinary diversity that comes with traveling.

By incorporating these tips into your vanlife journey, you can maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet. Remember, it’s all about planning, making smart choices, and being intentional with your food choices. Enjoy the adventure while nourishing your body!

Learn more by tuning in to Ep 86 of My Wife the Dietitian to hear our interview with Dominique.

Listen in to Episode

#86 on My Wife the Dietitian Vanlife – Food Hacks to Eat Healthy, Dominique Paquette

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman, or on YouTube.

My Wife the Dietitian