Landmarks are often used to describe routes or locate places of interest and it could be anything from big supermarkets and theatres to malls or restaurants. I have a friend who always chooses to use the nearby restaurants to direct passers-by when enquired upon a specific building or route. She has even gone to the extent that her password for using the college’s internal website was ‘Badam Halwa’. How on Earth could she come up with something as trivial as the name of a sweet for safeguarding her details? Maybe her love for sweets and mithai was way beyond our comprehension or even an addiction!
Decades back addiction pertained to drugs or alcohol but now it has encroached all walks of life. Humans these days are addicted to shopping, watching movies or TV series, eating sugar or even being active on social media sites. The latest addiction included by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its long list is gaming disorder. Beyond these is the existence of food addiction that has catapulted our lifestyles out of proportion. That’s because, while we can stay off drugs or games its never possible to stay away from food. Abstaining from food can put you in greater trouble, even death and the process of eating is a lifetime one with no breaks in between. Each of us would have gone through the ups and downs of eating at some point in life-eat more, cut down portion size, fast and again overeat. The cycle repeats itself with the efforts benefiting some people helping them slim down while for others it might bring about more trouble in the form of obesity/overweight. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to help you fight obesity and reach normal weight. Ultimately, none of us wish to become drug addicts or victims of obesity. It’s the inability to stop doing something when you want to stop and this inability is the bud that blossoms into addiction!
An Imbalance of Hormones
High-fat, high-calorie foods are just like cocaine and heroin- the more we eat these foods the more we crave for them to trigger pleasure centres in the brain. A study by a group of researchers has shown that consumption of junk foods or binging is as addictive as smoking or heroin and this could cause compulsive eating and obesity (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7533668/Junk-food-as-addictive-as-heroin-and-smoking.html). Also, just like how drug addicts develop tolerance to a drug, food addicts also develop tolerance to a food. Though the food might satisfy them less and less and they are full their binge eating continues. Dopamine, the hormone that helps us realize the pleasures of life such as food, sex and intoxication must be in balance with striatum, rich in D2 receptor which binds with dopamine, to control our pleasures. For instance, one glass of alcohol or one scoop of ice cream and not beyond that. When dopamine release is minimal and D2 receptors very few our behaviour is greatly impacted and we start acting impulsively- overeating when we feel so regardless of the consequences (https://time.com/5718798/food-addiction/).
Besides dopamine, leptin also plays a major role. Lower leptin levels bring about hunger and the levels are expected to increase once satiety is reached but for people with addiction, leptin levels are not released in sufficient quantity or the brain ignores these levels which makes the person continue eating the food without stopping once satiety is reached. Anyone obese or overweight are often judged as being lazy, sluggish or even branded as a ‘couch potato’ without any sympathy as they are assumed to lead a life devoid of a healthy diet plan, physical activity or exercise. While food addiction was viewed as lazy appropriation sometime back it has now been discovered that it is the same chemical, dopamine, that’s the root cause behind such crazy cravings. There are also reports supporting the theory that brain mechanisms underlying obesity may be similar to those in substance addiction. The tendency to want more food might be hard-wired in the brain of overweight people, according to the new study.
Finding Whether You are A Victim of Addiction
None of us get addicted to fruits and vegetables. But we have often been surprised by how all kids alike become fans of burger, pizza, noodles or jellies! There have been times when I have even mockingly joked with my husband that companies manufacturing these foods use some magic element to make individuals fall in love with their product! But research shows that keeping a bowl of sugar in front of a sugar-loving person would not make him/her immediately grab a cube or two from the bowl and pop it into the mouth. The sweets consumed by such people are basically a trifecta of irresistibles-sugar, fat and salt. As standalone ingredients these might not be extremely tempting but in combination with each other the food products that are available create magic and make people eat just for the sake of pleasure and nothing beyond it.
Its high-fat, high-calorie foods such as pizza, cheeseburgers, cheese, cake, packaged cookies, ice creams, French fries, soda, chocolate, bacon, rolls, popcorn and fried chicken that’s processed and containing excessive amounts of sugar that tops the list of additive foods.
Each of us love to munch upon different foods, we might be ardent fan of spiced-up cuisine or love the sweet meats. So, what makes love for food an addiction for some? It might be called an addiction when you eat beyond your capacity and feel bloated and irritable the next day, when you don’t stop eating even when overfull, have certain trigger foods such as pancake or pizza where a small bite of it can put you on an eating spree, you behave and eat normally like others in a public gathering but gorge in isolation, isolate yourself from social gatherings as you can’t stay quiet at the sight of foods and its too tempting right in front of you (that you decide against meeting people to refrain from becoming a victim), you shop for a planned binge, cannot stop eating despite suffering from obesity, lethargy and other consequences or you find food as a means to cope up with the harsh realities of life (a strain in your relationship with spouse or stress at workplace).
Food is a source of energy and a thing of pleasure. Unlike drugs that can end you in trouble foods can be a source of motivation and wellness when consumed in moderation. In fact, it is constructive pleasure in comparison to the destructive pleasure obtained from drug use. But once victimized to food addiction it is almost impossible to get out of it without external help. Don’t hesitate to ask your loved one to take you to the physician who might prescribe diet and lifestyle interventions along with counselling and behavioural therapies to get you back on track. The best way to stay safe and away from all these problems is to contain your temptation to overeat!
Obese People Suffer from Food Addiction: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7533668/Junk-food-as-addictive-as-heroin-and-smoking.html
Studies Show that Some Foods May Be as Addictive As Heroin & Cocaine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/10/13/studies-show-that-some-foods-may-be-as-addictive-as-heroin-and-cocaine/#ef2574456113
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