The following article is a guest post.
For many years, people believed that only powerful drugs and alcohol become the objects of a person’s addiction. With the aid of technology and deeper research, however, it’s been shown that there are pleasurable activities (such as shopping, sex, and gambling) can have a similar effect on the brain.
But did you know that there’s an even more dangerous addiction?
Every day we buy, cook, and eat food as a way of sustenance. But there are people who consume a large amount of unhealthy food, despite knowing that it’s causing them great harm. This is called food addiction. This condition is one of the reasons why some people just can’t lose weight no matter how hard they try: the battle isn’t with the food, but with their addiction to it.
How can food be addictive?
There are certain types of food that have an effect on the brain and can pave the way for food addiction. Other than these substances, food addiction is no different from a drug addiction. But instead of drugs or alcohol, food addicts satisfy their cravings by finishing off a large amount of junk food in one sitting.
Pleasure, Tolerance, Compulsion
The reason junk food can be so addictive is because their ingredients have a potent effect on the part of the brain that’s responsible for releasing a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is released during situations that give us great happiness or pleasure. It also motivates a person to seek out the same pleasurable activities that trigger the release of this molecule.
Basically, if something feels good, your brain wants more of it. The substances that can release a high amount of dopamine include sugar, fat, salt, and wheat.
The presence of comfort foods in your body triggers your brain to relive memories or feelings of happier and better times. Repeating a pleasurable action causes more dopamine to be released into your system. This overloads the reward circuit in the brain, so the brain reacts to the continuous surge by removing some of the hormone’s receptors.
Because you have fewer receptors, you need to consume more to achieve the same level of pleasure. This cycle is what jumpstarts the addiction. The craving can get to the point where you feel unhappy without eating junk food, a similar reaction to the withdrawal symptoms experienced by addicts.
Get Help: Handling Food Addiction
If you or someone you know is suffering from a food addiction, the first step you should take is to ask for help. The most important thing to remember is that people with addictions are not a failure, and they can learn how to control their cravings. Sometimes it just takes a different approach to beat it.
After that, the person suffering from food addiction can be referred to a doctor, nutritionist, or psychologist who can help the patient break away from the cycle. Many clinics in Michigan, Arizona, and California also offer personalized nutrition programs that will help the patient achieve a better quality of life after kicking the compulsion to eat excessively.
It’s important to get a grip on food addiction and rectify its effects on the body before the patient suffers from diseases caused by weight gain and the overconsumption of sugar and junk food.