Food Addiction: An American Epidemic
You’ll probably never see someone try to smoke a big mac, or inject ice cream into their forearm. But recent neurological studies argue foods similar to America’s iconic burger, and the dessert we all scream for are as addictive as drugs that end up in syringes and pipes.
A consistent diet of burgers, sausage, ice cream and chips can get into your head. Foods with high sugar, salt or fat seem to program your brain to crave for more. And research demonstrates that drug addicts experience dangerously similar the cravings.
Always Looking for a "Cure"
People have always looked for the non-addictive path to happiness. And too often, they think they find it—only to discover addiction has taken control.
Whenever a substance becomes the replacement for happiness in your life, you’re probably addicted to it. Junk foods seem to be taking up the reigns in America; and have become for many, a legal substitute for happiness.
2/3rds of Americans are overweight, and over 1/3rd of us are clinically obese. I’ll let these stats speak for themselves.
Everyone I know finds happiness in eating certain foods.
Personally, I’m in love with Horizon Chocolate milk. And lately in the office we’ve been woofing down Starburst jellybeans by the 16 oz. bag. But for some, food does more than just satisfy hunger pangs and small cravings—it instead becomes an obsession.
But here’s the root issue: Is it their fault? Are they to blame for their apparent food addiction?
I can see you raising your eyebrows at your computer screen right now—wondering if I’ve gone crazy… because who else could possibly be at fault? According to Professor David Kessler, an entire industry.
Don’t miss the “Bliss Point”
Once the commissioner for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Professor Kessler told The Telegraph that many manufacturers have created combinations of fat, sugar and salt that are so tasty many people cannot stop eating them even when full.
The ex-commissioner argues manufacturers are seeking to trigger something he calls the “bliss point.”
"It is time to stop blaming individuals for being overweight or obese," Kessler said. "The real problem is we have created a world where food is always available and where that food is designed to make you want to eat more of it. For millions of people, modern food is simply impossible to resist."
The bliss point is the level our food reaches to give us the most pleasure from the sugar, fat and salt contents. It works both ways: too much sugar makes food too sweet, and not enough makes it bland. The same goes for how fatty and salty we like our food.
Companies spend years trying to satisfy the bliss point for as many people as possible; and as a result, get them hooked on their product. Haagen-Dazs ice cream and fast-food restaurants are prime examples of bliss point over-achievers.
Food Craves = Drug Craves?
But regardless of what companies are doing to inspire food addiction, people are craving the life-sustaining stuff the same way an addict craves another shot of heroin.
Demonstrated by fMRI machines at the Oregon Research Institute, over consumption of some foods can regulate the reward processes in your brain causing you to want more—never mind how full you feel.
People aren’t just eating to eat and survive anymore, they eat to re-live a feeling that came with chewing a big mac, or letting that ice cream melt over their tongue.