Guess what? If you've suspected all along that you might be addicted to certain foods in the way some people are addicted to heroin and cocaine, you might be right. A new study published in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience finds that the when the brain pleasure centers are overstimulated, whether by food or drugs, they adapt by decreasing their activity and must be stimulated more and more frequently (with more food, or drugs).
Rats which were provided with an easily accessible high-fat, high-calorie diet similar to human junk food not only bulked up quickly, but also quickly developed overeating behaviors and addictive behaviors. They continued to overeat even when they anticipated receiving an electric shock; and when the junk food was replaced with healthier low-cal food, the obese rats actually starved themselves for two weeks rather than eat the "salad bar option".
The scientists responsible for the study, Scripps Research Associate Professor Paul J. Kenny and graduate student Paul M. Johnson, found that the rats' behaviors were almost identical to that of test subjects addicted to heroin and cocaine.
Overeaters have been making this claim for years, often to the derision of unbelievers who insist that we're just lazy and undisciplined. Well, now here's scientific proof to back up the addiction model.
But the good news is that, like drug addiction, we can beat it. No, we can't stop eating, but we can slowly wean ourselves off the junk food and learn to eat clean. I can personally attest to the fact that if you do this, painful and slow as it may be, over time you will free yourself of the desire for most junk foods. It won't even be appealing any more. Plus, real food tastes amazing, once you're free from all the artificial crap clogging up your veins, heart, and neuropathways.
The bad news? It's a slow and often painful process to retrain your brain and your palate. For some people, it's harder than others. I suggest starting by simply cutting back on the stuff you know is bad for you, and introducing healthier options into your daily diet. Replace white carbs with whole grains. Add in some fresh veggies. Cut back on soda consumption. Do what you can, a little at a time. And don't beat yourself up if you fall --- just get back up and get back to it. It's the only way.
I had a terrific run this afternoon in the spring sunshine. The trail is a little different every time I run --- I love to play "spot the newest wildflowers". There's always a new spot of color. I'm up to a 55 minute run, not quite sure of the exact distance. Still, I think I'll be fine for my 10K on April 10.
I also did my Sculpt workout this morning. I love to be able to get up and do the DVD workouts first thing after a light breakfast. I lay out my togs the night before, put them on when I get up, and boom! ready to go. No excuses.
No recovery day last week, but I'm fine with that ... I did a couple of light days and felt under-worked, so it all evens out. This week, we're planning two more hikes! This is our recreation as well as a fitness activity. It's cheap, it's gorgeous, it's together time, and we love it. It's also really important to us as a couple. Last year we went an entire twelve months (maybe more) without taking one SINGLE full day off. That's insane. This year, I am going to be on the road a big chunk of time, and although Eric will come to visit, there may or may not be play time available, depending on my rehearsal schedule. So we're packing it in now. Stay tuned for more great pics!