Here are some highlights from both rat and human experiments on food addiction.
Addiction experts suggest obesity is a disease of addiction because similar neural and chemical pathways are implicated
- Some say junk-food is more addictive than cocaine
- Getting fat interferes with hormonal and neural pathways specifically Dopamine,causing up-regulation of appetite, desire and (junk) food-seeking, and a dampening of satisfaction, motivation, learning and decision making
- The more palatable the food, the more addictive with sugar and fat together in a food being the most addictive eg. Chocolate . In fact one researcher claims the 35 year increase in obesity has been caused by these foods
- The obese have a greater desire for junk food, need more to satisfy and are more prone to relapse than normo-weight folks – essentially have less will and more want-power that is physiologically based
One of the suggestions made is to develop strategies, including drugs, aimed at improving the dopamine pathway functionality. In other words get your brain firing differently.
Brain re-training activities suggested in various papers include:
- Increasing physical activity, specifically aerobic activity
- Chronic food restriction (not much fun, you have to under-eat)
- Distraction: chew gum
- Smell a non-food item as a response to a food craving. Jasmine was effective in reducing food cravings in one study.
- Accept the craving rather than fighting it and learn to “urge-surf”. For example set a timer for 30 mins, if you can wait it out, the craving should be gone by 15-30 mins. If you have ready access to the craved food, it may never quite extinguish (keep it out of the house).
For a general overview:
I also recommend reading the blurb on Dr Pamela Peekes book at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hunger-Fix-Three-Stage-Overeating/dp/1609614526/ref=reg_hu-rd_dp_img#reader_B008J1Q2C2