When you finally have it, you sweat, your heart races, you get flushed in the face, you reach a moment of utter bliss. Sounds like a drug addiction, right? Well, I’m actually just talking about food addiction. I shouldn’t say just a food addiction though, since a large portion of the nation is suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions induced by bad eating habits. But researchers have found that it is no coincidence that the sensations one feels when they eat certain fast foods or junk food are very similar to the sensations of smoking a cigarette or even doing heroine. Don’t shake your head at the next overweight person you see and say “they have no self-control,” because given the right food, you may lose all control too.
High to Low
Sadly, the higher you get, the lower you feel when you come down from that high. I’m talking about a food high. Some foods over-stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain, making it so you require even more of that food simply to avoid a major crash—one where you feel tired, drained, hungry, even depressed. Don’t get me wrong—it’s great to experience pleasure from food. Some of the healthiest foods in the world are SO delicious. But different foods can have different effects.
You Just Can’t Stop
When a person eats a flavorful food, there comes a moment when the body has had enough sugar, salt and fat and it hits a point of complete bliss. After this point, the body doesn’t want any more food. But, studies have found that there is a precise combination of saturated fat, salt, sugar and texture that can actually stimulate the appetite rather than suppress it. So when a person hits that bliss point, the signal to the brain that it’s time to eat actually gets stronger.
The Masters of Addictive Foods
Which brands and restaurants have figured out this magical (and evil) little equation that creates that addictive quality? You guessed it. Fast food restaurants and pre-packaged, processed foods. But it doesn’t just stop at McDonalds or Taco Bell. Unfortunately, you kind of have to do some research yourself to see which foods keep you wanting more. Once you know the answer, stay far, far away from those items! But there are a couple of ingredients that have been shown to be addictive…
Dairy and gluten both contain components that act like Opium in your system. Ever notice that completely serene look on a baby’s face when it nurses? Well, it’s not just breast milk that induces that content state. And many fast food restaurants throw in gluten wherever they can—it’s in sauces, seasoning, broth, everything.
Matter Over Mind
There are two important things to keep in mind; don’t feel guilty or weak because there are certain foods you can’t resist. This is no mind over matter situation. In this case, the matter (fatty, sugary, salty food) has power over your mind. You’re convinced you’re still hungry! Also, next time you’ve eaten an entire cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake and you swear you’re still hungry—sorry, but you’re probably not. You’re just going to have to walk away from the ordering window and deal with that feeling of dissatisfaction for a little while. Just like symptoms of withdrawal, it’s the only way to break the addictive cycle.