Let’s Talk About Food Addiction


Let’s talk about food addiction. This has become a very interesting topic to me recently. At first, I was like, “No, I don’t have an “addiction”. That sounded too harsh. But as I read the book, The Hunger Fix by Pam Peeke, MD I knew I needed to face the reality. Many of us do have food addictions. And we are not solely to blame. The food industry uses our instinctual pull towards sweet, salty and fatty foods to make their products so desirable we literally cannot help ourselves from over doing it.

Dr. Peeke suggests to begin addressing food addictions by first detoxing the body and avoiding all added sugar, processed foods, eating out and any trigger foods that you may have. I decided that now was the perfect time to try the Ultimate Reset 3 week cleansing and rejuvenating system. I’ve just made it through the first week and I’m feeling remarkably light and energized. I’ll be sharing more about this cleanse in a future post.

Here’s an excerpt from Bethesda Magazine that explains some of the science behind food addictions:

“Evidence in recent years has suggested that some foods may, in fact, hijack the brain’s reward system in susceptible individuals, much as cocaine, heroin and other drugs do.

Groundbreaking studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans have demonstrated that when people with food addictions are shown pictures of and/or eat sweet, salty or fatty foods, the pleasure centers of their brains light up and stay lit up much longer than in those without an apparent food addiction. The stimulated pleasure center, in turn, triggers an intense desire for more.

“The brain scans were game-changers because they show that regardless of addiction—whether it’s to drugs, food or alcohol—you see the same changes in the reward center of the brain: The total number of dopamine receptors is way down, allowing only a small amount of this pleasurable brain chemical to get through—and thus, people experience less and less pleasure and reward,” Peeke says. “That’s why addicts of any kind need more and more of their substance to even feel a small amount of pleasure.”

When the brain is continuously flooded with high levels of dopamine, she explains, many of the dopamine receptors shut down. As a result, when you do consume the desired food, “you don’t feel as much reward, and it takes more of a hyper-palatable food to actually enjoy the original pleasure you had when your dopamine-receptor population was normal,” Peeke says. “You need six cupcakes to get the pleasure you used to get from one.” Read the rest of the article here.

If you are curious about whether or not you have a food addiction, take this quiz to find out how you rate.


List your top 3 foods that you have a hard time stopping one you start. Or the ones that you have a hard time saying no to if they are in your presence, regardless of how determined you are about your nutrition plan. These foods may or may not also be the ones that cause you to thrown in the towel on trying to eat healthy for the day (or week, or month) once you’ve had them.

Think about your attachment to these foods. How do they make you feel after you’ve eaten them? How do you feel when trying to not eat them? How much energy do you spend thinking about and trying to manage these foods in your life? How would life be different if you didn’t struggle with the decision to eat or not eat these foods on a regular basis?

 If you want to more about how I help people get in great shape through common sense, real food nutrition, fun workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home and ongoing support, motivation and accountability from me and a group of peers, contact me for more info! And, take a minute and make me your FREE COACH over at teambeachbody.com!

jenJennifer Oppelt is a Certified Health Coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner – American Association of Drugless Practitioners and a Licensed Massage Therapist in the state of Florida (MA37357). Jennifer has added Beachbody Coach to her list of titles as a way to offer more tools to help her clients reach their health goals. Jennifer is happily married and a mother to two children, Alchemy and Ashton. Jennifer loves spending time with family, cooking real food, fitness and is an advocate of sustainable living.

Jennifer specializes in helping new mothers lose weight and regain their energy and vitality. However, she is open to working with everyone and has a true passion for helping others. Implementing self-care routines and developing a positive body image are also important aspects of the healthy lifestyle that Jennifer advocates and encourages to all of her clients.

How to Use the Hunger and Fullness Scale

Hunger & Fullness Scale

The Hunger and Fullness Scale* is a useful tool for assessing your hunger and fullness levels before, during, and after you eat. It will help you identify your hunger cues, observe how different types and amounts of food affect you, and recognize when the urge to eat has been triggered by something other than hunger. This scale is not intended to set strict guidelines about when you should eat; rather, it helps you develop a greater awareness of your body’s subtle signals.

The Hunger and Fullness Scale ranges from 1 to 10. A level 1 represents ravenous—you’re so hungry you could eat this page. A level 10 means you’re so full that you’re in pain and feel sick. Remember, smaller numbers, smaller stomach; larger numbers, larger stomach.

In the middle of the scale is level 5: neutral, comfortable, or satisfied. At a 5, you cannot feel your stomach at all. It’s neither empty nor full; it isn’t growling or feeling stretched.

It helps to develop a good mental picture of what’s happening to your stomach at these different levels of hunger and fullness. Make a fist with your right hand; your empty stomach is about that size.

This is a level 1. One or two handfuls of food will take you from a level 1 to a 5.

Another way to picture your stomach is to think of a balloon. When it’s empty you’re at a 1. When you blow that first puff of air into the balloon, it fills out gently and takes its shape. That’s a 5.

As you take a deep breath and force more air into a balloon, its elastic walls begin to stretch and expand. These are levels 6 through 10. Your stomach is able to stretch to a 10 in order to hold excess food; therefore, the numbers over 5 indicate how stretched or uncomfortable your stomach feels.

If you blow too much air in, a balloon would continue to stretch and eventually pop. Fortunately, stomachs rarely rupture, but most of us have eaten so much at one time or another that we’ve said, “If I eat one more bite, I will explode!” When you feel this way, you’re at a 10.

Of course, changes in blood sugar levels, energy levels, moods, and substances in the bloodstream resulting from the digestive process also signal hunger and fullness. These other clues help tell you how hungry or full you are.

It may be challenging at first to label your hunger and fullness levels with numbers, but as you practice, it becomes second nature. You can learn to use this awareness to decide when, what, and how much to eat.

Hunger and Fullness Descriptions*
1 – Ravenous: Too hungry to care what you eat. This is a high-risk time for overeating.
2 – Starving: You feel you must eat NOW!
3 – Hungry: Eating would be pleasurable, but you can wait longer.
4 – Hunger pangs: You’re slightly hungry; you notice your first thoughts of food.
5 – Satisfied: You’re content and comfortable. You’re neither hungry nor full; you can’t feel your stomach at all.
6 – Full: You can feel the food in your stomach.
7 – Very full: Your stomach feels stretched, and you feel sleepy and sluggish.
8 – Uncomfortable: Your stomach is too full, and you wish you hadn’t eaten so much.
9 – Stuffed: Your clothes feel very tight, and you’re very uncomfortable.
10 – Sick: You feel sick and/or you’re in pain.

* From the book series: Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Download chapter one at http://amihungry.com/chapter1.

Copyright Michelle May MD. Reprinted with permission.

‘Mindless to Mindful Eating’ Success Story

Kelli and her family

Kelli and her family

Recently, Enliven Wellness Works sat down with Kelli Marchman Rivera to discuss her recent successes after completing the Mindless to Mindful Eating Corporate Wellness Program. Here’s what she had to say…

EWW: What positive health/mind/behavior changes have you experienced since the start of the program?
KMR: I am in control!!! Eating was taking over my life. I ate for every reason in the world except for being hungry. Since starting this program, I now am paying attention to what my body is telling me, and giving it what it asks for. Putting down my fork was the first step. Now, as a family, we eat more unprocessed foods (my husband is so excited about our new crock pot!), and we take the time to sit down with no distractions and enjoy each other’s company. And I’ve had my son tell others about how big your stomach actually is (a fist) and how much food it can hold. I LOVE hearing this thinking taking hold in my family.

EWW: How would you describe your health before you started Mindful Eating?
KMR: As an older teacher, I was eating to control stress. My weight was creeping up the scale, cholesterol was an issue, and I was always tired. I had also noticed the shape of my body changing, and while a little extra around the middle is common in 40-somethings, I was unhappy. I felt out of control, and it was time to do something. The Mindful Eating program came at exactly the right time for me. I used to eat everything on my plate without really enjoying it. Portion control was my biggest issue. Even now I still find myself eating everything on my plate. I just use smaller plates, or put half away before putting the food in front of me.

EWW: What motivated you to make these changes? 
KMR: As a teacher, there are many things that are beyond our control. Teacher evaluations, unruly kids, long hours, and new curriculum every year take its toll emotionally and physically. Eating was one thing within my power to control. And now I can.

EWW: What keeps you motivated?
KMR: My body is changing. While I do not own a scale, and never will, I feel that my clothes are fitting a little bit better. My mood is happier. Control does that. And in the back of my mind, the idea that being healthy will keep me around longer to take care of my family will always motivate me. I’ve also been talking to others about being mindful. While some have been resistant, I’ve had a couple come back and say, “You know, I tried putting down my fork, and I really did begin to feel satisfied before I’d finished the food.” Success!!! Friends in the program have also helped me. It’s nice to see a fellow mindful eater in the hallway, and celebrate successes together.

EWW: What are your future goals?
KMR: I will continue to eat mindfully, one day at a time. With the holidays coming up, this will be interesting. But no more diets! I am in control of me! I choose what I will eat, and this has freed me up from the guilt involved in what I used to think of as “cheating”.  I have also begun a weight training program in the mornings (Body Electric on PBS) that makes my body feel stronger. And I will continue to wear my pedometer. It’s a great motivator to get moving.

EWW: Do you have any advice for others who would like to improve their health but realize now that diets are not the answer?
KMR: Pay attention to your body. Slow down and listen. Food is not for comfort. Food is just for staying alive. Put your fork down between bites for just one meal. And see what happens. 


Enliven_Logo_sprout_1Enliven Wellness Works provides a full menu of workplace wellness solutions.  To learn more, contact Jennifer@Enlivenwellnessworks.com or click here.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

National Diabetes Awareness Month

National Diabetes Awareness Month, observed annually in November, is a time for individuals, organizations, and communities across the country to shine a spotlight on diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, – or sugar – for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Diabetes is one of the most serious health problems we face today. Over 8% (26 million) of the U.S. population are dealing with this battle.  Compared to the general population, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and people with a family history are disproportionately affected by diabetes. Diabetes can be prevented or delayed  by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and being active. With these steps, you can stay healthier longer and lower your risk of diabetes.

For more information on diabetes, visit http://www.diabetes.org. Or, to see what’s happening around the world on World Diabetes Day (November 14th), click here.

The Phenomenon That Will Leave Your Heart Pumping and Your Body Feeling Amazing!

1207257_lIt’s finally here!  A phenomenon that will leave your heart pounding and your body feeling amazing!  Most likely you will even experience the benefits of a tighter, toner body frame, improved digestion and metabolism, increased bone density and relief from structural body pain. What could it be?  Just exactly what am I talking about?  What is this newest, best thing?! Are you ready to find out?!

Well, its always been around but many of us do not know truly what it means and where to start with it.  We scan the internet, read articles, pick up magazines and like what we are seeing, but it seems complicated.  It’s strength training. Yes, strength training can give you all of the benefits of a tone physique, improved overall health and more.  Let me share with you some tips:

Strength training is any form of resistance exercise that is load-bearing on your body.  So, it can be dumbbells, barbells, weight-plated machines, resistance bands or body weight.  Any tool that gives you that little “something extra” that you have to move, lift, twist, push, pull, squat, lunge or pick up.  Are you starting to get the idea? It’s not so scary now, right?  We do those moves every day.  We just need to add that “little extra” into an organized routine.

Here is a sample routine:

Squats 15 reps/2 sets (modification – hold weights on each side)

Sit back like you were sitting in a chair that’s too far behind you.  Your legs are hip width or slightly further apart.  Keep your shoulders tall.  Weight goes through your heels.  Inhale as you squat down and exhale as you come up.  If you need to, use a bench to start.

Forward Lunges 10 reps each leg/2 sets (modification – hold weights on each side)

Take a long step forward.  Make sure the front foot has the weight place through the heel and the back foot has heel of the ground.  Keeping a tall posture, bend your knees.  You do not need to bend deeply but make sure you have good form.  Over time, increase the bend in both knees.  Inhale as you lunge down and exhale as you stand up.

Push-up 10 reps/2 sets

Place your hands outside of your shoulders and your legs straight down from your hips, and make sure your stomach is highly engaged and your spine in neutral.  Inhale as you lower your body toward the floor (your hips come with you, maintaining neutral spine), elbows go out to the side.  Exhale as you extend yourself up back to the starting position.

Lower Body Deadbug 12 reps each leg/2 sets (modification – add upper body same arm)

Lying on your back on the mat, place your arms down by your side and lift both legs up into the air, as straight as you can comfortably get them.  Take a deep breath in and as you begin to exhale lower 1 leg down to the floor, keeping the other right where it is.  Keep your stomach tight and your lower back in contact with the mat.  Bring leg back up and alternate sides.

Lying Hip Bridge 15 reps each leg/2 sets (modification a: – heels down toes up.  Modification b: – 1 foot in air.  Supporting foot is flat on floor)

Lying on your back with your arms by your side, your knees are bent and your feet on the ground, hip width apart.  Take a nice deep breath in.  As you begin to exhale, slowly lift your hips as high up as you can, squeezing your stomach and buttox.  Inhale back down and repeat.

Front plank on forearms 30 seconds/2 sets (modification – 60 second continuous hold)

Like a pushup position except you are not on your hands, you are on your forearms.  Your elbows must be directly under your shoulders.  Spine is neutral.  Hold that for 30 sec while you focus on pulling your stomach tightly away from the gravity of the floor.

Now that we have the concept, we need to know where to start.  Well, this all depends on your current fitness level, your current body restrictions, what YOU LIKE to do (which is  important so that you will stick to it) and how much time you have to do it.  In order to do this and get a personalized routine, the best thing to do is contact our experts here at Enliven Wellness Works and we will get you started. You are truly just one step away from taking your health to a whole new level!

TracieTracie Hammond has a B.S. degree from the University of Southern Maine. She is a certified nutritional consultant from the Global College of Natural Medicine, a certified personal trainer, and she holds many other fitness and nutrition certifications. Tracie uses the integrated approach to wellness, combining nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction techniques.  Tracie empowers her clients by coaching them to set realistic goals, identifying their strengths and obstacles, and setting weekly strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Exercise for Fun!


So many of us today tend to use exercise as a means to be able to eat more or less. If, in our minds, we exercised adequately, then we are apt to “reward” ourselves with some food that we consider “bad” or “off limits” under normal circumstances. If we don’t exercise, or don’t put forth the amount of effort we felt we should, then we tend to restrict our food intake and “punish” ourselves by not having something we might truly desire. When did exercise become a means to an end in regards to rewarding or punishing with food? How did we get here and how can we begin to break this vicious cycle that leaves us feeling empty, guilty and frustrated?

First, exercise does not have to be hitting the gym for 90 minutes in the hardest boot camp class you can possibly find. If this is what you enjoy, that’s one thing. However, if it is something that makes you cringe and want to pull the covers back over your head or work an extra hour just so you will “accidentally” miss it and blame it on the boss, then maybe its not quite suiting your specific needs. Exercise comes in all forms. There are plenty of things we can do outside the gym that could be considered fun and active. The key is finding what works for you and what you like. Do you like to walk? Ride a bike? Go for a hike? Swim? Kayak? Rock climb? Jump on a trampoline? Ride horses? Be in nature? Do yard work? There are so many options. Start here: You will want to sit down and write out a few of the activities you enjoy doing that will fit into your life and will help keep you active.

Next, realize that food has been used for too long as a punishment and reward system. Therefore, start to reframe your mind and ask yourself before eating, “Am I truly hungry right now?”. If so, ask yourself what you are truly hungry for and go from there. If you are not truly hungry, there is no need to eat. You can fill your time with a fun activity other than food. Rationale: if we eat when we are not hungry, but rather just bored or filling time, food will only fill that void for the amount of time we are doing it. We will still be bored after we are done eating and may reach for more food. See the cycle?

We can break this cycle – together. Reach out to us here at Enliven Wellness Works and we will help you. We are seasoned coaches that have a passion for being the best we can be – without punishing ourselves – and we want the same for each and every one of you. We look forward to hearing from you and getting started today!


TracieTracie Hammond has a B.S. degree from the University of Southern Maine. She is a certified nutritional consultant from the Global College of Natural Medicine, a certified personal trainer, and she holds many other fitness and nutrition certifications. Tracie uses the integrated approach to wellness, combining nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction techniques.  Tracie empowers her clients by coaching them to set realistic goals, identifying their strengths and obstacles, and setting weekly strategies to overcome these obstacles.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 2014

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity rates remain high. Obese young people have an 80-percent chance of becoming obese adults and are more likely than children of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults. As a result, they are more at risk for associated adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, and several types of cancer. Attacking the obesity problem while children are young is our best hope to eliminate an obesity problem when these children are adults. Ready to take action? Check out these tips and more to help improve the health of our children at LetsMove.gov:

  • Keep fresh fruit in a bowl within your child’s reach to grab as a quick snack.
  • Take a walk with your family after dinner.
  • Plan a menu for the week and get your children involved with the planning and cooking.
  • Turn off the TV during meals and share some family time.
  • Talk to the principal about organizing a school health team.

Let’s call national attention to this epidemic! For more information, visit http://www.healthierkidsbrighterfutures.org/home/