Let’s start this with some information from healthline !
Following info in bold is from www.healthline.com
Junk Foods Flood The Brain With Dopamine. Our brains are hardwired to want to perform certain behaviors.
Mostly, these are behaviors that are important for our survival… such as eating. When we eat, a brain hormone called dopamine is released in an area of the brain called the reward system.
We interpret this dopamine signal as “pleasure” and the programming in our brain changes to make us want to perform that behavior again.
This is one of the ways the brain evolved to help us navigate through our natural environment, motivating us to do things that helped our species survive.
This is actually a good thing… without dopamine, life would be miserable.
But the problem is that some modern things can function as “superstimuli” – they flood our brains with dopamine, way more than we were ever exposed to throughout evolution.
This can lead to these brain pathways being “hijacked” by the intense dopamine signal.
A great example of this is the drug cocaine… when people take it, it floods the brain with dopamine, and the brain changes its programming to want to take cocaine again, and again, and again.
The dopamine pathways that are supposed to guide people towards survival have now been taken over by the new stimulus, which releases more dopamine and is a much stronger behavioral reinforcer than anything in the natural environment.
But here’s where it gets really interesting… sugar and highly processed junk foods can have the same effect as drugs of abuse.
They also function as “superstimuli” – they flood the brain with much more dopamine than we would get by eating real food, like an apple or an egg.
Numerous studies have shown this to be true. Junk foods and sugar flood the reward system with dopamine, particularly a brain area called the Nucleus accumbens, which is strongly implicated in addiction.
Sugar also has some effects on opioid pathways within the brain, the same system manipulated by drugs like heroin and morphine.
This is why highly processed, sugar-laden foods can make (some) people lose control over their consumption. They hijack the same brain pathways as drugs of abuse
BOTTOM LINE:Studies have shown that sugar and junk foods flood the reward system in the brain with dopamine, stimulating the same areas as drugs of abuse like cocaine.
Ok, it’s me again…I have shared this info before in my own words but again, felt it was important to copy / paste the powerful truth here – If you’re fighting sugar and junk cravings and often feel powerless and ashamed, please understand that it’s an addiction and we can’t simply ” wish ” it away !
Now that we know this and we know that knowledge is power, what do we do with this information, how do we celebrate the power ? First, we need to realize that having an eating disorder is real, MANY are struggling with this and people do not overcome this by wishing it away or simply by having more control. As a coach and even for myself, a question I ask is ( why do we eat this food, what reward is it giving us ) realize we only continue to do things that provide some type of reward even if short lived.. when people dig deep we realize the answer to this is unique for everyone but one thing that stands true for most is the feeling that comes over us from something that tastes amazing in the moment and moments to come. Like mentioned above there is a euphoria feeling that moves in with empty calories, high sugar / carb junk food and this feeling lasts until the next fix is needed which is never very long. There are MANY ways people fight this and because we are each different, each person will need to find their own path. I certainly do not have all the answers but as a life coach, I have worked with hundreds of people from all over the world for the last several years and today I want to talk about one path I like to take with my clients as a coach.
First, as adults, I believe that most of us know what healthy eating is, with the internet we can search what a healthy food diet looks like in seconds with hundreds of food ideas so it’s certainly no secret. I also know that as adults, we don’t like the feeling of being told what to do which is one reason I feel gimmick ” diets “don’t work, we want to do things because it’s what we want to do, our choice not because we’re being told. Another thing is, if a person is eating junk to numb emotions, eating to self medicate, these issues will always come back if we don’t put in the work to solve them. Something I find very powerful is when I get my clients to work on how they feel ( after ) eating badly. We all know if feels good in the moment which is why people do it in the first place. So thinking about how amazing it tastes in the moment certainly won’t deter us but what about that feeling that comes when it’s wearing off… you know when we feel powerless, discouraged, like failures because we know this lifestyle is getting in the way of who we truly want to become, the way we truly want to live. These real thoughts and emotions may feel like too much but it’s important to write them down, to be aware of how they are interfering with our life because without confronting this, it’s hard to know the negative impact it’s truly having.
Fighting this isn’t easy, if it was, SO many wouldn’t be fighting for their life and although ( fighting for their life ) may sound extreme, extreme is exactly what many are facing ! It’s my experience that we don’t need to focus all our time on why we love junk food, I mean, let’s dig deep and have an understanding but bottom line is, it’s addictive and there is an actual reaction happening in our body screaming for more so if we solely listen to that scream, MOST will give in. People tend to focus ALL their attention on the feelings of NEEDING more, I like to help people switch the focus from that need to how awful you feel when it starts to wear off… many quiet that feeling with more junk before they can hear it but we want to hear it… fighting this means we need to understand what’s at stake, sitting in those emotions, thoughts and feelings often reveal that although junk may feel great in the moment for a short lived time, living healthy allows us to feel great is most of our moments. Flipping our thinking means to let go of ” it’s not fare that I can’t eat this ” ” I should be able to reward myself “ with ” Truly rewarding myself means to eat the best I can to make myself feel the best as possible “ ” It’s not fare to numb myself with addictive foods when I could reward myself with real healthy food that make me feel amazing “ In short, eating great is reward NOT punishment. Eating healthy is a choice because we realize that we deserve and those we love deserve that we live our best most blessed life !
It’s also really important to know that if you’re in a place where you want to drop pounds, shrink inches, change eating habits, it’s rarely all about ( weight ) this is why, goals should be set up to help with balance in your entire life. This balance is what provides peace and even joy and this is another topic for another day.
Today I’ll simply ask you to start flipping your thinking from it’s not fair that I have to eat healthy to -> eating healthy is an awesome reward that allows me to live my best life. Also, to live a better life, you need to know what that means to you, so having a deep understanding of why are you’re unhappy with where you are now and what do you want ?? How important are the goals of your heart and can that happen without making changes ? Is making changes and living your best most blessed life worth the work ? These are things other people can’t answer for you and that you need to ask yourself in the quiet of your own heart.
And remember, there is NO shame is seeking and or asking for help. If you want or feel you need help figuring this all out and figuring out actual steps to take that will help you move forward in the direction you want, touch base as I may have a coaching opening and I would LOVE to help !