“Food and drug addictions have much in common, particularly in the way that both disrupt the parts of the brain involved in pleasure and self-control” -Dr. Volkow
As a nation, the number of individuals with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension numbers have reached epidemic proportions. It is easy to blame the individual, but according to the New York Times article, ‘The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food,’ “it’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. [It is] a conscious effort... to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.” Certainly each individual much harness their willpower to maintain a healthy diet; but that has become increasingly difficult when food companies have intense and misleading marketing campaigns backed by hundreds of food scientist with the single goal of making their unhealthy foods irresistible. Today, one in three adults is clinically obese. The number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has also risen alarmingly to 24 million. Such high numbers of obesity and diabetes leads one the question: are we a nation addicted to food?
Addiction to food has been debated by nutrition and addiction researchers, according to the article, “Craving an Ice Cream Fix.” This New York Time’s article argues that new research suggests the debate is over: Yes, food addiction is real. Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said, “food and drug addictions have much in common, particularly in the way that both disrupt the parts of the brain involved in pleasure and self-control.” According to the article, researchers from Princeton University and University of Florida have found that “sugar-binging rats show signs of opiate like withdrawal when their sugar is taken away- including chattering teeth, trembling forepaws and the shakes”. Other food scientists have reported that rats on a fatty liquid diet began producing endocannabinoids, a chemical not unlike what is produced when using marijuana. Addiction to food is related to the kinds of food being consumed. The article quoted Dr. Browne, co-editor of the new book “Food and Addiction” as saying, “We don’t abuse lettuce, turnips and oranges, but when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn... but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?” She argues that the scientific study of the brain should have us question the way food companies alter food to have consumers become hooked, “With these foods, personal will and good judgment get overridden. People want these foods, dream about these foods, crave them.”
Food addiction is possible to overcome- with conscientious effort. According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix” and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, exercise and meditation can help individuals beat their food addiction. According to the Times article, methadone is utilized by heroin users to alleviate their withdrawals. Likewise, food addicts can help overcome addiction by finding healthy and pleasurable alternatives. An example given in the article was enjoying a fruit smoothie instead of ice cream. Kay’s Naturals is another healthy alternative to help kick a bad food habit. Our products do not have the additive combination of high sugar, fats, and salt, but they do have a pleasurable crunch and flavor. Toss the Cheetos from your pantry and open up a bag of Chili Nacho Protein Chips. They are good source of protein and fiber, all while being low in fat, carbohydrates and sodium. Shop online to see all the healthy alternatives we have to offer. Together, we can beat our food cravings and become a healthy nation again.