Fast Food is like Cocaine
It has probably crossed your mind before too: How come we keep eating fast food when we know that there is no nutritious benefit and that it makes us fat? Is there something in fastfood that makes us addicted?
Several studies show that a fastfood addiction is as serious as a drug addiction indeed. The high concentration of fructose syrup, monosodium glutamate, hydrogenated vegetable oils, refined salt and other chemical additives found in fast food has the same effects on the human brain as cocaine.
Experiments with rats have found that sugar-binging rats were chattering teeth and shaking with the whole body when they didn’t get their sugar intake. As the rats were allowed to resume eating sugar again, they consumed even more than before. Scientists of the University in Austin Texas explained that the continuous consumption of junk food is reducing the activity of the striatum which is responsible for regulating the motor and reward system in the brain. In other words: similar to a drug addict, the fast food addict needs to eat more and more junk food to get ‘high’.
When people eat fastfood, their brain produces dopamine which are happiness hormones. Tests with overweight people show that their dopamine receptors are less sensitive as the ones of normal weight people. This is the reason they eat more to satisfy their craving and that leads to the vicious cycle of gaining more weight again.
An even more alarming study by the Oregon Research Institute conducted brain-scans on children who first looked at pictures of chocolate milkshakes and later drank them. Their findings suggest that just as drug abusers and alcoholics need increasingly larger doses over time, children who are regular ice-cream eaters may require more and more ice cream for the reward centers of their brains to indicate that they are satisfied.
I am often asked by followers who suffer from sugar addiction what they should do to overcome it. I suggest two things: First go on a sugar free challenge for 21 days. These are your 10 rules:
- You can eat 1-2 portions of fresh fruit a day. If you like you can sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top.
- Make popsicles with fresh fruit, for example Sharon fruit with avocado. Blend the fruits and fill the puree in Ikea forms. You can eat two a day instead of the fresh fruit if you prefer.
- When you crave dessert, you eat 2 dried apricots or dates with 10 cashew nuts or raw almonds.
- In the evening herbal tea is a great idea.
- Don’t use any sugar in tea or coffee.
- Don’t eat dessert.
- Honey and marmelade are not on the menu plan for 21 days.
- You can have peanut butter if it is without added sugar.
- You can have a piece of bread now and then if it is homemade with wholewheat flour.
- No sweeteners in any foods or drinks please.
After a couple of days you will realise that you don’t crave sugar anymore. It really works, believe me. The other thing you can do to get rid off cravings is sports. Work out and you will not want to eat sweets anymore.
I want to end this article on a romantic note. Did you know that new love is like cocaine too? Researchers found that serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are crucially involved in the initial stages of romantic love in much the same way as they are in cocaine use. That is probably the healthiest addiction ever though.