In order to maintain my credentials with the American Dietetic Association, I have to complete a certain amount of continuing education hours. So, lately I’ve been reading a book called Sugar, Salt & Fat by Gina Willet, Ph.D, R.D. I’ve only gotten about halfway through it, but as I was reading I felt like I had to write this post ASAP.
Everyone (including me) talks about cutting out junk food and eventually you won’t crave it anymore. But have you ever thought about why you physically crave these foods? Sure, you’ve been eating them for years and your body is used to it, but why is it so hard to resist when you smell cookies baking in the oven or walk by the freshly baked bread in the grocery store?
If you are someone who struggles with resisting the temptation of poor food choices, even though you so desperately want to, I want to tell you to not be so hard on yourself. You are going to have to be strong-willed and determined to over-come it, but you are not solely to blame.
Highly palatable foods and beverages (food the we enjoy eating or drinking) create a chemical response in our brains by the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is involved with the pleasure/reward center. When this chemical is released, it makes us feel good (think that “ahhhh” feeling). The more we expose our body to this stimulus, the more (quantity of product) we need to get that “ahhh” feeling again and again; the same concept you see with drugs.
So to skip all of the fancy scientific words, these foods are literally addicting. If you had an alcohol problem you would simply remove the source of temptation; you can’t remove yourself from food, so you can see how this can be a difficult situation to overcome.
To add salt to the wound (no pun intended), big companies continue to add fat, sugar and salt into their products to make them more palatable, therefore more addicting. There is actually a term used to for the point where a product hits the perfect ratios of salt, fat and sugar that companies refer to as the “bliss point.” Companies are taking advantage of the fact that you will need more and more to achieve pleasurable results from these products, putting more money in their pockets (and more inches around your belly!).
Have you ever heard of the experiment with Pavlov and the dogs? Basically, every time Pavlov rang a bell he would give these dogs a piece of meat. Eventually, whenever these dogs heard the bell they would begin salivating anticipating the meat to come. Research has shown that simply seeing a logo of one of those beloved products we enjoy so much can trigger us to want that food or drink.
Here’s the kicker: CEO’s of some of these major junk food companies were interviewed and admitted that they don’t eat their own products and wouldn’t serve them to their families either. If that doesn’t tell you something then I don’t know what does…
Hopefully this sheds some light onto why it may be so hard for you to resist certain foods. It will be hard at first. It will take time and effort. But once you “detox” from all of these junk foods, you will begin to crave them less and less. And the good news is, if you decide to have any of it as your treat meal you will need even less of it to feel fulfilled. Have you ever stopped drinking alcohol for awhile and then noticed you start feeling it after 1 or 2 drinks when you used to be able to put down quite a few? Same concept.
Now go show those corporations who’s in control! (YOU!)