We all know that eating food can change from a normal behavior to compulsive eating, craving, and binging. Food can be addictive. It seems that high-sugar and high-fat foods have plenty in common with addictive substances like drugs or alcohol. Here are seven similarities between them:
- Like drugs, they stimulate the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine.
- Brain scans show that the brain responds to them like it responds to heroin.
- Brain scans show that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine.
- Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body’s own opioids (chemicals like morphine) in the brain.
- People develop a tolerance to sugar, needing ever larger quantities to satisfy themselves.
- Sometimes people keep on eating large amounts of unhealthy foods despite negative physical and social consequences.
- Animals and humans experience withdrawal symptoms when suddenly cut off from sugar.
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What can you do? Think about what you eat and what you drink. Do think you could improve your diet? Is your diet or your weight affecting your health or wellbeing? Are you dependent upon high-sugar, and high-fat foods?