Junk Food Addiction

On the blog, we’ve talked a lot about our personal vegetarian and vegan journeys, but that’s NOT for everyone. Anyone who tells you otherwise is fooling you. You can eat meat and still be healthy.

So if you’re looking to start eating healthier, ridding your house of junk food is the first thing you should do. I know it seems a little extreme, but I have found it’s the only thing that really works. If junk food is just sitting in your pantry or in your fridge, you will have a moment of weakness and eat it. But, if your milling through the fridge late at night and all you have are healthy snacks and meals then more than likely you will eat that as opposed to making a run to McDonald’s or the grocery store to get some unhealthy food.

Junk food wreaks havoc on your body. More often than not junk food consumption leads to weight gain and obesity which then leads to a myriad of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and some forms of cancer. Yikes!

A great way to avoid eating junk food is to eliminate the majority food items that come pre-made in a box or a bag such as:

  • Snack cakes
  • Cookies
  • Chips
  • Pre-made mixes
  • Candy

Then, start slowly weaning yourself off of fried food,  processed food and processed meats such as:

  • Deli meat
  • Sausage
  • Hot dogs
  • All fried food
  • The majority of fast food
  • Ground beef (non-organic,)

Check out this video about what’s really in your ground beef.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBkwUt-bqIo

The list goes on and on. I know it may seem like a lot of things that you’re giving up so you might have to do it in baby steps, but your body will thank you!  It’s going to be pretty hard at first and you will probably struggle to begin with, but keep your health in mind. It took me years to wean myself off of a fast food heavy diet and become a vegetarian. Now, I’m not saying that you can never have junk food or your favorite foods again but I am saying that it should be in moderation. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule which means you eat healthy 80% of the time and you can indulge 20% of the time. So if you eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week that comes out to 19 healthy meals and 2 “freebie” meals.

If you’re still on the fence, I came across an post on chefahki.com that will make you think twice about junk food consumption.

A diet including unlimited amounts of junk food causes rats to become so addicted to the unhealthy diet that they will starve themselves rather than go back to eating healthy food, researchers have discovered.

In a series of studies conducted over the course of three years and published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Scripps Florida scientists Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny have shown that rats’ response to unlimited junk food closely parallels well-known patterns of drug addiction — even down to the changes in brain chemistry.

 

“What we have are these core features of addiction, and these animals are hitting each one of these features,” Kenny said. In their first study, the researchers fed rats on either a balanced diet or on the same diet plus unlimited access to junk foods purchased at a local supermarket, including processed meats and cakes. Within a short time period, the rats on the junk food diet began to eat compulsively and quickly became overweight.

 

“They’re taking in twice the amount of calories as the control rats,” Kenny said. The researchers hypothesized that the rats were eating compulsively because, like drug addicts, they had become desensitized to smaller amounts and needed more and more for the same rush of pleasure.

Many recreational drugs work by directly stimulating the brain’s pleasure centers, particularly the dopamine receptor known as D2. Overstimulation of this receptor causes the body to start producing less dopamine, leading the addict to compensate by taking more of the drug.

 

Since dopamine can also be released by pleasurable activities such as food or sex, Kenny and Johnson speculated that food addiction could develop in the same way. To test whether the rats had, in fact, become habituated to dopamine, the researchers took the rats from the first experiment and hooked their brains up to a device that would directly stimulate their D2 receptors when they ran on a wheel. Rats eating a junk food diet ran on the wheel significantly longer than rats fed a normal diet, suggesting that their receptors had indeed become desensitized. This“profound” desensitization occurred after  just five days on a junk food diet

 

 

 

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