Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Your Weight Loss Success Hindered by Junk Food Addiction?

I heard for years that it takes will power to lose weight. My mother was an advocate of the "Push yourself away from the table hungry" diet...talk about needing will power!!!

I hear over and over people who say they can't lose weight because they just don't have the will power. Some people joke that they have "will power" it is "won't power" they need. Well, losing weight is not a matter of will power (or won't power, either.)

Trying to make losing weight a matter of will power puts the person who is making the effort into a power-LESS position instead of a power-FULL one. It implies that we are weak when diets fail us...and they DO fail us!

Food is a drug...it is probably the most commonly used and abused drug there is. It is legal, easy to get, relatively inexpensive, and comparatively a socially acceptable drug. But drug it is.

I've joked in the past about being a "chocoholic" and we've all known people who say they are addicted to sugar...

Put the jokes aside! Sugar can be addictive...not just a bad habit that can be broken by sheer will power. A new study suggests that junk food may actually be as addictive as cocaine or heroine!

The study was conducted at Scripps Research Institute. Researchers gave rats unlimited high-fat, high-calorie foods that we would call "junk food"...items readily available at the corner store or gas station. The rats became compulsive overeaters, and became obese, just as people do. What the scientists showed was the rats' brains became less and less responsive to the pleasure received from the junk food...so the rats had to eat more of it for the same thrill.

The rats used their foot to get the good. When the scientists gave the rats a slight shock to that foot, the rats still went for it.

Both the need to eat more for the same pleasure, and eating despite the shock, are indicators of addiction.

In addition, after having had unlimited amounts of junk food for 40 days, the junk food was replaced with a nutritious food. With no junk food available to them, the rats chose to starve rather than eat the healthy food provided.

"Not only did we find that the animals' brain reward circuits became less responsive as they continued to overeat and become obese, but that decrease in responsiveness was similar to what our laboratory has seen previously in rats as they become addicted to cocaine or heroin."
--Paul Kenny, associate professor of molecular therapeutics
So eating junk food can be addictive...but that doesn't mean that it is impossible to lose weight. It does mean that "will power" is not the answer.

Be gentle with yourself when/if you are drawn to eat junk food...beating yourself up for your addiction is not going to serve you...you will have lots of opportunities to eat junk food--it is all around you. So don't expect to be "perfect" in your eating. Make small changes gradually rather than trying to go "cold turkey"

Have other plans for handling the situations when you want to eat...to help break the cycle.

And since our pleasure centers may be a bit depressed, we must give ourselves other rewards...stimulate the pleasure center in our brain through means other than food.

We can have weight loss success, by changing our mindset. We have to first believe we can lose weight and also that we deserve to lose weight. This is the beginning to losing weight, permanently, safely, and naturally.

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