Food Addiction: Kicking the Habit

Humans are hardwired for high-calorie foods such as fat and sugar.

Ever had trouble putting down that endless bag of potato chips? We’re all guilty of it at one time or another and a study from Nature Neuroscience gives us some insight as to why this happens. It’s food addiction. It may sound a little strange but new research has taken a closer look into the brain chemistry of rats, showing a linkage between compulsive eating and pleasure responses in the brain.

The research shows strong support for the theory that overeating “palatable” foods (those that are high in fat and calories and lurking in many grocery store isles and fast food restaurants) may initiate the same responses in the brain that highly addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine trigger. Are you in shock yet??

It may be hard to believe at first but researchers studied groups of rats given calorie-dense foods, compared to another group given a normal diet of food. The high-calorie foods provoked extremely addictive behavior, in fact, the rats that were given the high-fat, high-calorie foods equivalent to cheesecake, bacon, and sausage consumed twice as much as the group of rats given their normal diet.

Some advice on “kicking the habit”

Portion control. If you just can’t help reaching for something “palatable” make sure you’re consuming real food versus packaged, synthetic junk.  Gorge on avocados instead of buttered scones to help repair the brain addiction to high fat and sugar foods.

Water throughout the day, aiming for 3 liters. Often times our bodies confuse hunger for thirst.

Fiber-rich foods which can help keep you feeling full longer.  Best sources include those rich in prebiotics like artichokes and asparagus.