Food cravings and drug addiction: 3 surprising similarities

Sometimes the desire for junk food can feel like a drug addiction. You may have thought this yourself during certain moments. Can you think of a time when food was the only thing on your mind (and you weren’t even all that hungry)? Science has shown that drug addiction and food cravings are more similar than you can imagine.

Learning the following similarities will help you understand the problem and figure out what you can do to stop it.

1. It releases dopamine in your brain
 Both drugs and unhealthy foods produce a chemical response in the brain, which triggers the compound called dopamine. When this happens, your body is “rewarded” for giving into the substance. You feel good, relaxed, calm, etc. but you also have a lack of control. Your body will want more and your motivation to resist it will weaken.
2. Without the initial exposure, the craving would never have existed.
You know that saying, “If you don’t start, you never have to quit”? It applies both to substance abuse and bad dieting. After you’ve had your first experience with a bad food (like potato chips or cookie dough), your body derives pleasure from the dopamine release. Soon your body will want to replicate that release again. This is where the cravings come in. If you never ate food—and your brain was never exposed to the trigger response—the real cravings would be nonexistent.
3. Future cravings are chemical (not emotional)
You’ve probably heard a lot about “emotional eating.” This is definitely a common cycle and it happens frequently. The cause of the emotional eating, however, is probably not what you think. It is not a desire to distract your feelings with the delicious taste of a certain food. The cause is your body’s wish to replenish the dopamine that is triggered by the bad snack. This is a chemical process, not an emotional one.

How you can stop the cravings
If this information is making you overwhelmed, don’t worry. The good news is simple: It’s not as hard to stop the cravings as you might think. The trick is knowing what good foods will satisfy the different cravings and reduce future ones from occurring. The article linked above will show you which foods are appropriate for multiple situations. Once you get this down, the addictive cycle can diminish and eventually stop altogether.

For more information on proven weight loss, contact The Broadway Clinic in OKC. Right now patients are losing up to 10 pounds in the first week and up to 30 pounds in the first month.

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