How many times have you ever said, “I’ll just have one bite” and then gone on to eat the whole plate of fries, donuts or other junk food? And you really meant it, but then somehow, one bite was just not enough? Guess what, it’s not your fault! It has been established that eating low-nutrient, high-calorie, intensely sweet, salty, and/or fatty foods AKA junk foods produces the same biochemical effects in the brain that are characteristic of substance abuse. Yep, that’s why it’s hard to stop at just one bite.
The engine that drives this train is a neurochemical called dopamine. Dopamine regulates motivation and pleasure related to stimuli like food. The greater pleasure you derive from eating a given food is equal to the amount of dopamine released in your brain. So, you can imagine what the pleasure payoff is when you eat something designed to send you to heights of food ecstasy like junk food. And, believe me, the manufacturers of these garbagy foods are well aware of the dopamine response and capitalize on it by making these foods as irresistible as possible.
This is why you can taste a junk food or dessert, and then feel the intense demand from your brain: “MORE NOW!” You may even feel a complete lack of control with all of your good intentions going right out the window. The dopamine monster strikes again! And the thing is, the more you feed the dopamine monster, the more he demands. So, you are driven to keep eating greater quantities of these highly addictive foods to get the same feeling of intense pleasure. This is because the dopamine receptors in the brain become less sensitive over time, especially with overeating.
Studies have shown that overeating blunts the dopamine reward response, encouraging more overeating. So, it becomes vicious cycle of addictive behavior to junk food. Ugh! This is why willpower will never work here. Nope! But there is hope. Yes, it is possible to send the dopamine monster packing. But, you have to be willing to do what it takes to kick his tanny-fanny out of the position of power and keep him out.
How? Eat real food! Stay away from addictive junk and go for natural plant foods. Natural plant foods are nowhere near as intensely sweet, salty, or fatty as the processed junk foods that are purposely designed to excite our dopamine reward systems and get us on the path to food addiction. When you retrain your taste buds by eating whole, natural foods, they provide a whole world of exquisite tastes without activating the dopamine monster. Need some inspiration? Check out The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. To your good health!