Does it seem like no matter what you do you can’t seem to kick your junk food habits? Well there may be a reason you can’t break the habit that goes beyond will power and what you might think of as a lack of control.
Why We Crave Junk Food – Even If We Don’t Want It
A junk-filled diet may actually effect the way your brain experiences and regulates cravings. Research has indicated that eating calorie-rich foods that are highly palatable can actually begin to alter the satiety and reward centers of your brain!
In one study, scientists placed rats into two groups. One was given standard food over two weeks, while the secondary group was given processed foods (junk foods). After eating the junk for two weeks the group of rats no longer responded to the brain’s clues that they were full (satiety). These rats also showed a preference for junk food and a lack of variety in their diet, suggesting that the effects of junk food may linger even a short while after you’ve given it up!
You Could Be a Junk Food Addict
Junk food, specifically foods high in fats and sugar can over stimulate our brain’s pleasure centers. When this happens our brain adapts by decreasing the activity in these systems. This causes us to need more of the food to receive the same pleasure. It becomes a dangerous cycle where the more you eat, the more you need to enjoy it. This addiction-like neuroadaptation in the brain’s reward centers are similar to what happens with drug addicts.
Other Ways Junk Food Can Mess with You:
It makes you impatient: A study from the University of Toronto found that it’s actually harder to appreciate art and music when exposed to fast food. Researchers say that your brain associates fast food with instant gratification and speed which can make you more restless.
It makes you forgetful: Studies have shown that eating junk food multiple days in a row can actually decrease your memory, attention, speed and mood!
It makes you fat: This one seems obvious, but even the “reduced fat” options of different junk foods can be making you gain weight. These options often contain the same or more sugar than the normal version of the snack. This means the food quickly spikes your blood sugar, which jump starts the fat storage process making you gain weight faster.