I’ve been writing about how addictive sugar is, and that it creates the same reaction in the brain that opioids (heroin, morphine, opium) do. I’ve also written about the very interesting food addiction pyramid, and offered you a quiz to determine if you are addicted to sugar. Throughout many of my other articles I have injected my thoughts that not only is sugar an addictive substance, but white flour, added salt/sodium, dairy, and unhealthy fats are also addictive.
So, imagine my excitement when I came across an article about a study done on lab rats that demonstrated food creating the same brain changes that opioids do! This study covered the effect that the combination of sugar, fat, and salt had on the brains of the lab rats. The brain reacted the same as it did to heroin or morphine.
Where do you find this combination of sugar, fat, and salt? In fast food of course! You could argue that this study only looked at the brains of lab rats, but you tell me – can you eat just one fry, or just one burger, or do you end up craving more? Does the smell of the drive-through lure you in, do you keep going back for more, day after day, week after week?
One man, a self-proclaimed fast food addict who nearly died of congestive heart failure (he was only 41 when interviewed) stated that “I can’t just have one — I have to have two” when it came to his addiction to Wendy’s hamburgers and fries.
This article concludes with the information that Ann Kelley, professor at University of Wisconsin, hopes that her study will lead to medications (and programs) for people that have eating compulsions:
The over-consumption of this food leads to problems like obesity,” (Kelley) said. “Maybe we can develop treatments that will help us curb our appetite for these substances.”
Here’s my thought: while I certainly believe in physical/chemical food addiction, I don’t believe that people need medication to relieve their sugar, salt, and fat addiction. What is necessary is to stop eating those ingredients, do your own cooking with whole foods, and remember that the first 3 to 7 days you will go through withdrawals. My experience has been that once past that first week (at most), I no longer have physical cravings for the addictive ingredients, but emotional cravings do still come up. I documented this in my “Ban The Refined Sugar Experiment“, which is where I noted that I used journaling to get past the emotional cravings for food.
It’s also interesting to note that in my experiment I was focusing on the elimination of refined sugar, foods high in natural sugar, and sugar alcohols, and I also mentioned that I was not consuming added salt or unhealthy fats (or dairy), either. The reason I find this interesting is because the study done on the lab rats included the combination of sugar, fat, and salt.
Back to the topic of medication, I cannot say that there wouldn’t be some extreme cases in which people would need it to go through the withdrawal from addictive food ingredients, just like people who get off of heroin do, but for the most part I believe that you need to eliminate these foods from your diet, which involves a change in lifestyle. If all you do is take a medication to get off of fast food and lose weight, isn’t that still just a band-aid on the symptom?
If you do want to get off of those addictive foods and ingredients, but have never cooked for yourself and aren’t really sure how to go about that, the Six Week Body Makeover lifestyle outlines all of this for you, even though the plan is marketed for weight loss rather than food addiction. It just so happens that the program does eliminate those addictive ingredients from your diet: sugar, unhealthy fats, added salt, and dairy (also addictive – future article), while giving you the added benefit of weight loss. You would not be susceptible to the changes in brain chemistry brought on by either sugar or the combination of sugar, fat, and salt, and you could free yourself from those addictive foods and experience how peaceful life can be.