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Junk Food Addiction

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Wow, junk food tastes soooo good!  When we start the cycle of junk food addiction it usually starts out pretty slow.  A few french fries and a small packet of ketchup or a fast-food restaurant stop on the weekends. You want to eat health so you do pretty good throughout the week but on the weekend, its every food for themselves, right?  Pretty soon those weekend only restaurant binges, because you don’t want to cook on the weekend turn into a 3 or 4 times a week.  Later, you may feel frustrated, wondering, Where’s my willpower? Why couldn’t I just stop myself?

If this is how you feel, you’re not alone and it may not be entirely your fault.  New research is illuminating how junk food works on our bodies, creating an addiction comparable to cocaine. We don’t overindulge in processed foods because we’re weak; we do it because our neurological system demands it.

How Does the Cycle of Addiction Start?

Food addictions have been around awhile, I’m a professed and recovering “chocoholic” myself.  LOL.  However, it’s only recently that science has confirmed what we already suspected: Certain foods can create a vicious cycle of dependence.

Where does the problem start?  It starts with the fact that these foods are highly processed and how our metabolism reacts to them.  When we eat these highly processed foods our bodies absorb their ingredients more rapidly than,a whole grain food for example.  This causes our blood sugar to spike and as the saying goes, “what goes up must come down.”  As fast as you blood sugar went up, giving you a “sugar high” it will fall just as quickly causing a “crash” in your energy level.   That quick high, similar to take a drug, causes you to crave those types of foods more and more.

The result is you become desensitized to this roller coaster of high’s and low’s.  A recent study using MRIs to measure brain activity confirmed that too much junk food inhibits the brain’s rewards center.  The research proved that just as alcoholics need more liquor to get drunk, “junkaholics” constantly need more junk food to achieve their “high.”

No wonder we want more cookies, cake, ice cream and chips.

So, How Can I End This Cycle?

First, it’s best not to get started in the first place.  If you’re a parent be aware of what you feed your young children.  For example, I don’t allow my children to eat at fast food restaurants (exception Subway) or drink sodas.  I spend a few extra minutes cooking them as many “home cooked meals” as I can so that I know exactly what they are eating.  I don’t mind going the extra mile for my children s health, no matter how inconvenient it might be.

Second, shop for healthy, nutrient rich foods. If it’s difficult for you to resist processed foods, don’t fill you cabinets with them!!!!  Instead, health snacks, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and dishes containing lean protein, healthy omega-3 fats, and fiber.  The average American doesn’t get the required amount of fruits, veggies or fiber.  Consider these healthy food items as part of the solution to help you break the cycle of junk-food addiction.

A good rule of thumb and research suggests this is true, your willpower and self-control are strongest in the earlier part of the day and weakest toward the end of the day. Try to fill up on healthy foods early so that it’s easier to stave off late-night cravings.  I also eat a majority of my carbs before lunch and eat more fruits and veggies later in the day.

Drink Plenty of Water!!!

It’s critical to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day because dehydration can spike cravings for sugar and junk food dramatically.  80% of you body and it’s organ are made up of water, so why would you want to drink anything else to hydrate you body.  Avoid energy drinks, soda and even coffee, if possible.  I know coffee is tough for most of you. LOL.

The best news is that good food choices–like bad ones–are self-sustaining. When we eat mindfully and healthfully, we get better nutrition, control blood sugar spikes, and reap countless other benefits. As a result, we feel great and start to crave the nutrient-dense foods that will keep us energized throughout the day. With time, healthy foods and the abundance of good feelings they can generate create their own special rewards: vibrancy, long-term health, and vitality on every level.

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