University of Michigan researchers found that the body can’t tell the difference between junk food and drugs. The profound 2015 study covered 120 participants originally, then proceeded to include another 398 participants later on. First round participants were shown a list of 35 foods and asked to identify their “problem foods”, which for the study specifically meant the foods they are most likely to binge on, reports Big Think. For most of the participants, their problem foods were some kind of processed food which had a sugar content high enough to place it in the upper rankings of the glycemic index. When the second round participants were given the same task, the results were apparently close to the same.
Why The Brain Likes Junk
Harmful drugs and alcohol aren’t exactly healthy choices, despite some claims to the contrary, which are often overturned, then overturned again. One of the many reasons people who have never lived with addiction find addiction so hard to understand is the mind boggling idea of why someone would choose to continuously consume substances which are so unhealthy and can be potentially life threatening. Junk food is the perfect example. As Big Think explains, there are certain components to junk food which make them so satisfying: sweetness, saltiness, and crunchiness. Additionally, there is a deficit of components which make junk food healthy, like protein and fiber, for example. Science has also found that added sugar, added fats, as well as food ingredients like white flour can trigger addictive like behaviors and responses in the brain. The brain likes junk food because the effects of junk food, the satisfaction and pleasure created from junk food, and perhaps even the scandalous “shame” of eating something not healthy for you, triggers a reward response. Lead author on the study Erica Schultz explained that clinical studies finding that the criteria for substance addiction is met in individuals who are simply addicted to food.
How To Regulate Eating During The Holidays
Go to any grocery, drug, or big box retailer store during the holiday season and you will be abruptly confronted by a plethora of holiday decorations in addition to large displays of cakes, candies, and seasonal treats. Holidays are inarguably indulgent and for that reason unavoidably full of temptation. For men in their first year of recovery, food is a complicated trigger. The cravings of the recovering body are strong- yearning for sugar and more strongly, some kind of dopamine induced relief. As men come to learn when in our program at Tree House where they work closely with a nutritionist and follow a rigorous exercise regimen, food is fuel and energy is only created by what we give our body to create energy from. Eating a bunch of processed, high sugar, high added fat foods and drinks makes it hard to perform at an optimum level physically and psychologically. During the potential stress of the holidays, men might be inspired to seek comfort in comfort foods, but won’t realize how they are actually perpetuating and enabling the addiction cycle.
The University of Michigan study shows that it isn’t “just food” when it comes to dietary choices, and as we can gather from the experience of recovery, it isn’t “just food” during the holidays. Men in the early stages of recovery should be wary of the highly addictive nature of processed junk food during the holiday and continue to put their sobriety first in mind and body.
Transform your life, inside and out as you find freedom from addiction. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we’re helping men create the sustainable changes necessary to build a sustainable recovery. Call us today for information: (855) 202-2138