Junk food is everywhere these days; It’s hard to avoid. Go into a gas station, grocery store or discount store and you’re surrounded by candy bars, salty potato chips, doughnuts, cupcakes and sugary drinks. Are they healthy or nutritious? No. But do we crave them? Yes!
Even though your mind tells you, “This isn’t the healthiest thing to put into my body,” you can easily end up addicted to junk food. Why is that? It turns out that junk food stimulates the reward system in your brain.
Your brain has a reward system that’s designed to make you feel good when you do things that encourage survival… like eating. When you eat, your brain releases feel-good chemicals including dopamine. Thus, eating junk food gives a person a sense of pleasure. No wonder so many people indulge in chocolate, right?
People should feel pleasure in their lives– that’s a good thing! But today’s junk food overwhelms the brain’s reward system. For example, eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream releases a huge amount of dopamine, giving you a “high.” And this is a high you don’t get from eating an apple or carrots or celery.
What do people do when they eat something that makes them feel good/better? They eat/drink even more of it! Dopamine receptors downregulate. The brain decides the amount of dopamine is too high so it removes dopamine receptors in order to restore balance. Therefore, you eat more junk food because it’s harder to “get that high.” It’s an addiction when someone doesn’t feel happy if they’re not getting their junk food “fix.” Hence, they’re going through withdrawal, just like someone who is addicted to cocaine would do!
If you or someone you know is addicted to junk food, it’s not unusual to keep it a secret. Depression and/or anxiety may go hand-in-hand with a junk food addiction. How does a person beat their junk food addiction? They can try and quit eating/drinking trigger foods and drinks completely, and/or work with a nutritional counselor to help change their habits.
Did you know chiropractors help people overcome their junk food addictions? It’s helpful to be accountable to someone– you can “check in” with a chiropractor and tell them what’s working for you, and what’s not. Having someone to be accountable to can truly help people overcome their junk food addictions.