Junk Food Addiction Is Real!
Studies from the Weill Cornell Medical School and Scripps Institute have irrefutably shown that the craving for junk food is the same as the craving for cocaine and opiates.
In lab tests, it was shown that even the threat of pain did not deter subjects (which were rats, not college students) from pigging out on junk food.
The nerve centers in the brain that control pleasure are stimulated by both drugs and junk food in exactly the same manner.
The test subjects also showed that, just like with drugs, the pleasure center in the brain became insensitive to the stimulation and required more junk food to provide the sensory pleasures the brain and body demanded. The results? Spiraling into drug/food addiction or obesity.
Junk Food Defined – Just exactly what is junk food?
These foods contain so-called empty calories, meaning your body is getting a lot of energy without the necessary nutrients. Left starving for vitamins, minerals, and the right ratio of fats to proteins to carbs, your body will continue to send hunger signals even when you’ve eaten beyond your daily caloric needs.
These foods make up a large portion of the diet of many people: students filling up on Big Macs and fries, office workers sipping on sweetened soft drinks throughout the day, and those too busy to prepare food from scratch who survive on convenience foods.
Junk food is everywhere: at the drive-thru on the corner, the convenience and grocery store shelves, and the many vending machines in schools and businesses worldwide.
The availability and lack of understanding by consumers about how little nutrition is in these cellophane-wrapped or boxed tidbits is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in evidence throughout the civilized world, particularly in the USA.
Check the label on that wrapping, box or can, and chances are you will read a lot of chemical names, along with precious few natural ingredients whose names you recognize.
One of the common fillers is high fructose corn syrup, a manmade sweetener, preservative and, in sufficient quantity, poison. HFCS has been substituted for sugar in many foods and beverages, even peanut butter, jams and breads.
That classic PB&J sandwich may meet the definition of junk food if you choose the wrong ingredients. It can be high calorie, high fat, low nutrition. Look for sprouted wheat bread, natural nut butter and fruit spread (meaning no sugar added).
Fortunately, prepared foods are labeled so anyone concerned about their health and what they put into their body can make a conscious selection of more nutritious foods, even when prepared meals and convenience snacks seem like the only option.
Some of the fast food operations are even publishing the contents of their menu so you can quickly figure out that the double cheeseburger with bacon provides more than half of the recommended daily caloric intake for an adult male, while it exceeds the RDA of sodium and saturated fats.
Treating The Junk Food Addiction
As with any addiction, cutting back from the problematic substance can be a painful process. The addict has to be convinced that this move is the best for their health, must understand that it won’t be easy, and needs to muster a little bit of self control in order to get past the withdrawal phase.
A junk food-free diet when combined with a fitness program has a better chance of being a permanent lifestyle change. When a person becomes committed to a self-improvement program that involves major changes in physical activity, lifestyle and diet, each facet of the program is easier.
Once the withdrawal from high-fat, high-calorie meals and snacks has begun, it will be helpful to replace these items in the diet by substituting healthy foods and snacks. One of the big appeals to fast food is in the name; it’s FAST.
One way to overcome this is to have all the elements of good meals and snacks readily available. Prepare natural snacks including carrots, celery, fresh and dried fruits, nuts and seeds ahead of time, and package them so they’re readily available when the need (or urge) comes over you.
Prepare healthy main dishes in large quantity, and freeze the leftovers in individual portions. They can even be taken to work this way. Use a lot of spices to make the meals more flavorful so your pleasure center is mollified with the substitute and doesn’t miss that double-cheeseburger quite so much.
If eating at work isn’t an option, then go to restaurants that serve real food, not pre-processed junk. You might be surprised to find that the service and food at a family restaurant will be better than at the fast-food drive-thru, and it is probably no more costly or time-consuming. Discover how to achieve your bodybuilding goals with simple nutrition trick.
Opting for a “diet” soft drink does not help.
In fact, their effect may be even more harmful to your body than the regular drink, stimulating your metabolism to slow down and store more fat. Switch to water or unsweetened tea.
A lemon slice in water gives it a tangy taste and may also help curb your appetite.
Treating junk food addictions, just like the withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, is largely mental after the physical addiction has abated. The physical addiction wanes after just a few days, but the mental need lasts much longer.
With food as with other addictions, it is this mental pull that must be addressed most forcefully. We have all heard the expression “mind over matter.”
To affect a cure for any addiction, both the conscious and subconscious sides of the mind must be engaged. The subconscious side is the most influential on our habits and behavior, so some form of “auto-suggestion” may be employed to reprogram our mental computer.
Research has shown that our brains, particularly the subconscious mind, may be influenced by meditation or some form of self-hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis is really just freeing the subconscious by achieving a relaxed state and then making suggestions to yourself that will influence your behavior.
One way to achieve this relaxed state or “zone” is to sit quietly in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and picture your backbone. Visualize a small light circling your lowest vertebrae, count to ten, and move the light up to the next vertebrae for another ten-count.
Continue Up The 24 Vertebrae
A feeling of heightened awareness will come over you, signifying your entry into the zone. Now you may make suggestions about junk foods, exercise or any other behaviors you want to change.
You may prerecord your suggestions and play this during your time in the zone. Preface the voice recording by some relaxing music; about five minutes (the average time to reach the zone) will do.
As you become more adept are reaching this state, it will take far less time, particularly if you give yourself a suggestion that some action will precipitate the relaxation and entry, something like crossing your fingers or clasping or interlocking your hands over your midsection.
This action is called a “post-hypnotic suggestion” much like those you are giving yourself about junk food addiction.
Thousands of people have used this method of addressing habits successfully. If you approach an addiction to junk food with an understanding of what it is and that you can overcome it with the desire to change, a little willpower, perseverance and a total wellness approach, you will win this battle.