Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Can junk food be addictive?

A friend of mine brought the following article to my attention this morning:

Junk Food Can Hijack Brain Like Drugs Do, Experts Say

It's interesting. Take a minute to read it. I'll wait..............

Okay, welcome back! What did you think? A bunch of baloney, or is there truth to it?

I find the article incredibly interesting. We've been trying hard to eliminate processed foods - especially munchie-like ones - from our diet, and have been pretty munchie-free for the past two months. Overall, we feel 200% better (see the tab titled "The Gym" for a complete update), and don't even really miss those kinds of foods now. We snack only on fresh fruits and veggies, except for an occasional baked good that I might splurge and make, like the cookies below.

The reason I find the article interesting isn't so much in the results that the researchers found in the lab. I find it interesting because we, as a family, experience a sort of withdrawal when we cut the foods out of our diet. I'd been wondering if the "urban legend" of snack food addictiveness actually contained more truth that I had originally thought. If this article is correct, maybe there is a grain of truth in it.

When we cut out our processed items, the cravings were uncontrollable. It took a lot of creative thinking and purposefully distraction to try and combat them. Willpower was a must - if we hadn't have been disciplined about it, I think we would have given in again this time around (this wasn't the first time we'd tried to eliminate processed foods from our diet). It did feel like an addiction, and the temptation was strong for just a little "hit" (for lack of a better term). I realized then, just why so many people are unable to break the habit of junk food. It's not only more convenient (and often cheaper), but it's physically extremely difficult to walk away from junk food.

I'm not sure how I feel about the culpability of the food industry, just yet. I think that we, as Americans, are very quick to want to blame someone else for our own misfortune. If it can be proven (like with the smoking industry) that the companies were aware of the research and misrepresented their products, then there might be a place for blame to fall. Yes, I do believe that some people might be unable to physically break an addiction on their own - - but I don't know if opening a new realm of legal retribution will be a positive move for our society. My instinct tells me that instead, it would just lead to a further diminishing of our sense of self-worth and responsibility.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried to eliminate junk food? What was your experience?

Do you believe that junk food can be addictive? Is this addiction physical, or purely mental/emotional?

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