BE A HEALTH FOOD JUNKIE
Fat and sugar can be as addictive as drugs. Use our plan to wean yourself off class-A foods and find out how to get your nutritional highs elsewhere
We're all familiar with the lure of a dirty burger. But what few of us realise is that the urge comes not just from your stomach, but deep inside your skull. According to a study from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, junk food has the same effect on your brain chemistry as cocaine and heroine, and for some people it can be equally addictive.
"We found that an excess of foods high in sugar and fat resulted in a deficit in the brain's reward systems, much like drug dependency," says neuroscientist Dr Paul Kenny, the author of the study. Those foods are tempting because they trigger the release of chemicals that make you feel good.such as dopamine and serotonin. And the more you get that post-gorge high, the more you seek the food that causes it. Eventually. the 'neurochemical pattern' of all-you-can-eat junk makes the urge for that fix hard to resist. The result is that you become addicted to crap.
That's the bad news. The good news is that there's a way to regain control without going cold turkey. The key is to supply your brain with the same reward triggers, but from activities and foods that aid your fitness and weight-loss plans. Rather than over-stimulating your brain, these beneficial rewards are released Steadily and, in time, you will become addicted to healthy things instead.
Help is on hand from Dr Mike Dow, an addiction specialist and author of Diet Rehab. His pain-free plan is designed to help you overcome a reliance on unhealthy food, without having to swear off it for life.
Nobody can go from Homer Simpson to Ned Flanders in a day. We know this. Noris there any need to make that change for good. The key is to strategically cut the crap over four weeks, says Dow. "You replace junk with healthy alternatives that stimulate the same feel-good brain chemicals."