The following excerpt should be thought-provoking for people who eat a lot of processed foods (i.e. millions of Americans) and know themselves to be overeaters and even “food addicts.” Unfortunately many people are not aware of their own behaviors, as the addictive properties of high-fat, high-calorie foods often subtly take over our brains. The common triple play of fat/sugar/salt in many favorite fast foods is actually to blame — so don’t beat yourself up for falling prey, because that is what they’re intended to do. As with any addiction, the first step to recovery is recognition. Undoing a food addiction requires behavior change — whether in small steps or by going cold turkey — and a registered dietitian can help!
High-Calorie, High-Fat Foods Can Be as Addictive as Cocaine
A new study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that high-calorie, high-fat foods may be just as addictive 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,” Health.com reported. The rats in the study that were fed these unhealthy foods developed a tolerance to the pleasure it gave them and had to consume more and more to experience the same level of satisfaction. “The fact that junk food could provoke this response isn’t entirely surprising, says Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., the chair of the medical department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York,” Health.com reported. “‘We make our food very similar to cocaine now,’ he says.” Dr. Wang means that we purify our food in a way that our ancestors never could: Instead of eating corn, for example, we eat corn syrup. Just as cocaine has been purified over many years, so too has our food. “The ingredients in purified modern food cause people to ‘eat unconsciously and unnecessarily,’ and will also prompt an animal to ‘eat like a drug abuser [uses drugs],’ says Wang.”