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Have you ever seen someone smoking and think to yourself, “Why are they doing that, don’t they know it can kill you?!?” I have thought that they should just stop; that if they became aware of just how bad it was, they would change.  I just never really understood it was more than choosing to stop, that there is a chemical reaction that drives that behavior.

I am embarrassed to admit that, because I am allowing myself to continue to sabotage my health on a daily basis.  I overeat, don’t work out, indulge on sugary drinks which has all resulted in a serious weight problem.  Yet, until recently I didn’t make the correlation that I am addicted as well, my addiction just happens to be food. I just learned that more American’s die every year from obesity related diseases than all of the different cancers combined.

Nutrition conceptsSo what is it about food that make’s us throw caution to the wind and make bad choices? Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in:

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt

Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again.

The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.

According to Dr. Pam Peeke in her book “The Hunger Fix,” “Food addiction is real. Our body’s built-in reward system, driven by the chemical dopamine, tells us to do things that give us pleasure: Creative energy, falling in love, entrepreneurship—even the continued procreation of the human race—are driven by this system. Unfortunately, so is the urge to overeat”   Dr.  Peeke goes on to give some advice on overcoming food addiction.

  • Step one: Strengthen the mind. Peeke said people should identity the snacks they crave the most and then use transcendental meditation to reduce the urges.
  • Step two: Trick the mouth. Peeke said there are ways we can replace our unhealthy “food fixes” with foods that are just as delicious but are whole, natural foods. Instead of reaching for the ice cream, Peeke said people should try a chocolate, cheery and almond protein smoothie, but instead of a protein bar, try a banana with peanut butter and instead of a cupcake, try a carrot muffin.
  • Step three: Move your muscles. By working out regularly, Peeke said people can stave off cravings and reward their brains with endorphins instead of sugar.

I am looking forward to reading the whole book and sharing some of the advice and tips with everyone.  Until then, please join us at our community where we inspire and reward losing weight and making healthy choices.

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