By Caty Millburg- Nutrition Expert
Eating healthy all the time can be extremely challenging for many individuals. It is especially challenging when we have spent years allowing ourselves to give into our every temptation. This struggle comes from the very inner desire for the perfect mixture of sugar, salt, and fat. The sugar adds sweetness, the salt allows the sweetness to be magnified and the fat provides the perfect texture. Although this mixture is different for everyone, it is clear that everyone has a combination they find most satisfying. When we have foods like this, they react with receptors in the brain causing us to feel good and desire more. These high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in a similar way that cocaine and heroin do. In this way, food can actually become addicting.
Eating too much “junk” food can overload the pleasure centers in the brain. This eventually leads to a bit of a crash and it requires an increased amount of the food to get the same pleasure, or even just to feel normal. Food has been purified and processed to promote people eating excess on a subconscious level.
It isn’t all bad news though. In a recent study, scientist had 3 groups of rats. One group was given a healthy balanced diet, the second was given the same but with 1 hour exposed to junk food, and the third group was fed a healthy diet, but with unlimited access to junk food. It was found that the group that had unlimited access to junk food immediately started gaining weight, while the other 2 groups stayed relatively the same. The rats that had unlimited access started gorging completely on the junk food. This shows us that we can still allow ourselves those food occasionally (maybe once a week or so) and be able to maintain a steady weight.
These same rats were then studied later to determine if there were any major changes in their brain. The group of rats that was allowed unlimited access to junk food actually had less pleasure receptors in the brain, which meant that it required more and more of the junk food to create the same positive reaction in the brain.
Here at BalanceDiet in Longview our Lifestyle Coaches and Nutrition experts help you through overcoming the addictions to food that you may have. We understand that your health is the most important thing and we need to focus on how to make eating health and enjoyable, not one or the other. We have programs that help individuals at any stage of their weight loss and health goals. To get more information, please call us at (903)663-5900 or stop in at 3080 N. Eastman Rd. near Target. There is not time like the present to get started toward a healthier and more enjoyable quality of life.