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Food Addiction: What Makes Certain Foods Irresistible?

What do you consider an irresistible temptation? For some, the big problem is chocolate. For others, just having sugar sharpens the senses and generates a lack of control. 

For some people, the word irresistible is not an exaggeration. They really can’t turn down a delicacy they love. Food addiction has two important sides: it reveals previous disorders and causes problems. Precisely for this reason, it deserves increased attention.

Do you want to know more about this problem and what leads the body to develop this dependence on certain foods? So, read on!

Food Addiction: What Characterizes This Problem?

To understand what addiction is, one must first understand what it means to eat healthily. Food has a function in our organism: to provide the energy and nutrients we need to carry out our routine activities.

Therefore, eating healthy satisfies a physical need of the body, which is signaled by the feeling of hunger.

We don’t always have to wait for hunger to eat. After all, it’s important to have a regular meal schedule. However, if the person eats with this regularity and in the ideal amount to meet their needs, there is no abnormality.

For the person who develops an addiction, eating has another meaning. The person eats more food than he needs to meet his needs or starve. This excessive consumption is another reason and is usually associated with an emotional reward.

Food And Emotions: What’s The Connection?

To feel pleasure and well-being, our body must produce some substances, such as dopamine. We store this chemical in our brain in an area known as the reward center.

Several actions cause the brain to release dopamine. When a person does good to someone and feels satisfied with that action, dopamine comes. It also appears during sexual acts, when we are having fun, when a loved one pays us a compliment or affection, and so on.

Another action that releases our dopamine stores is eating. When biting into tasty Food, the little drawers keep this substance open practically magically. The brain is flooded with pleasure, satisfaction, and emotional comfort.

Why does it happen? Because the original function of dopamine is to reinforce behaviors that ensure your survival and that of our species. If you feel good performing these actions, you will repeat them. That way, it will stay alive.

Eating To Feel Good: What’s The Problem?

Our brain was made to work like this, to feel pleasure through Food. With that, we want to repeat the dose and nourish our organism.

However, throughout human history, we have developed substances that cause an exaggerated stimulus in this reward center of the brain. Drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy cause dopamine to be released in much larger doses.

Once people experience this burst of pleasure caused by these substances, other sources of well-being fade. Life has only one meaning: to do whatever it takes to repeat that feeling.

The problem is that it’s more than drugs that cause this effect. Some food ingredients are also responsible for an overstimulation of dopamine. It is not difficult to imagine that these are precisely the products that we consider the most delicious because they contain sugar, fat, and salt.

At this point, some big problems are already starting to appear. See what they are:

Food Takes On Another Function

The dopamine mechanism was created with one function: the brain makes a person feel good when he eats so that he eats again, ensuring his survival.

Foods that overstimulate dopamine release reverse this logic—you eat to feel good. Food becomes not the source of energy and nutrients but of emotional comfort.

Therefore, an addicted person tends to compensate for problems in other areas of life by eating. Did the boss say something she didn’t like?

The brain receives this reinforcement as consuming these foods causes a momentary sensation of well-being. Thus, the person is conditioned to look for a solution or consolation in Food whenever he faces a difficulty.

Increases Consumption Of Unhealthy Foods

As you can imagine, the foods that cause this dopamine burst aren’t the healthiest. We call them highly palatable (tasty) food products. As we have already said, this flavor is obtained with a high sugar, fat, and salt concentration.

Sugar and fat, for example, are present in many foods in their natural state . However, the sugar concentration is much lower in fruit than in industrialized candy.

By comparison, 100g of that hazelnut cream with chocolate that many spread on bread contains 57.6g of sugar. 100 grams of watermelon, an extremely sweet fruit, contains only 6g of sugar. Eating almost a kilo of watermelon would be necessary to obtain the same amount of sugar as just 100g of the cream above.

As for fat, its very nature differs when between natural food and industrialized food. Coconut, avocado, seeds, and nuts offer a healthy version of fat to the body, while food products provide saturated, refined, and processed versions, which are not good for health.

The Addict Always Needs More

Do not be deceived! The mechanism of addiction to Food is the same as that of drugs. The person will need an increasing amount to get the same results or even a smaller effect.

A neuropsychiatrist at the University of California and an expert on the behavior of addicted people reports that addiction gradually reduces the ability to release dopamine, promoting an effect opposite to what was expected.

For an addict, the dopamine spike happens with anticipation when the person sees the bottle or drink. In drinking, dopamine no longer rises because the organism becomes resistant.


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