November30 , 2022

    Food Addiction Leads to Weight Gain and Poor Health

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    Over half of Americans live with a chronic illness, primarily due to the overconsumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. In our society, the overabundance of delicacies is hard to resist. It is unhealthy to overeat, and when that becomes a habit, eventually we become addicted to food and can’t stop eating.

    Sweets and refined carbohydrates are addictive and harmful to the human body.

    One reason it is difficult for many to stick to decisions about food is that their bodies betray their mental commitment. At first, it seems fun to eat whatever we desire. However, that momentary pleasure is fleeting. Unfortunately, sweets and refined carbohydrates are addictive and harmful to the human body.

    Addiction is a compulsive repetition of an activity despite life-damaging consequences. Regrettably, people become addicted to sugar and carbs to the point that it causes excessive weight or health issues. Take the time now to watch this five-minute Ted-Ed video, “How Does Sugar Affect the Brain?” by the neuroscientist Nicole Avena, Ph.D.: https://www.sciencealert.com/watch-this-is-how-sugar-affects-your-brain.1 This video explains how we get hooked on foods with a high sugar content.

    When a food addict sees sugary foods, dopamine releases and causes the person’s focus to narrow.

    As you learned from the video, sugar causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which is part of our bodies’ feel-good reward system. Dopamine, a feel-good neurohormone, releases when we eat foods high in sugar, take opiate drugs, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, cuddle with our kids, pet a dog, or enjoy sex. A dopamine rush can rewire the brain to desire more of whatever causes its release. Therefore, when a food addict sees sugary foods, dopamine releases and causes the person’s focus to narrow. 2 She can think only about eating that food item to experience the euphoria it brings.

    Getting off sugar is more complex than it may seem. It is no longer about willpower and self-discipline but a biochemical addiction.

    We enjoy the feeling of dopamine, so we keep eating carbs. Refined carbohydrates include rice, wheat, instant mashed potatoes, instant oatmeal, cereals, potato chips, crackers, cake, cookies, etc. Sugary foods include a food item with greater than ten grams of sugar per serving. Check the food packages you purchase for its sugar level. At some point, an overconsumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates rewires the brain’s neural pathways and causes a person to become addicted. The brain’s hijacking triggers binge eating despite its consequences of weight gain and health problems. Therefore, getting off sugar is more complex than it may seem. It is no longer about willpower and self-discipline but a biochemical addiction.

    In fact, their brain’s circuitry goes haywire when they come into contact with these addictive foods, and their mind assigns supreme value to that food. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain found that addicts’ neural circuitry kicks into high gear when the brain lusts for the product of addiction.2 Therefore, from a physical perspective, we can become addicted to sugar, wheat, and refined carbohydrates.

    Two hallmarks of addiction include persistent desire and repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop.

    Two hallmarks of addiction include persistent desire and repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop. Being addicted to food is like having an alien inside of you who takes control of your body and eats a bunch of unhealthy food. You can’t stop it. Sugar and wheat hijack your body. You can’t halt the craving or binges no matter what you try. Your willpower is never enough. Understanding that food addiction is not a lack of self-control, but a rewiring of the brain, helps you to be more compassionate with yourself.

    If you have not considered the possibility of having a food addiction, do not feel shame over the terminology. Your body has fallen prey to the accumulative effects of sugar and wheat that are ingrained in so many of our culture’s food habits. The surgeon general’s 2016 report indicated that addiction is a chronic brain disease, not a moral failing.