You’re a drug addict.
Even if you’ve never so much as smoked one marijuana cigarette, you have a problem with addiction. What are you addicted to? The food you eat everyday. Wait. What? If your diet consists mostly of fast food, canned food, microwavable meals, diet food, soda, and snack cakes, you’re doing more to stimulate your brain than nourish your body.
Food is No Longer About Nourishment
Before industrialization, food wasn’t easy to come by. You needed to hunt, gather or farm in order to sustain your life. Now, food is available 24 x 7. There are supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and vending machines everywhere. There’s absolutely no effort involved anymore.
Our modern-day society may produce more food than ever before but it’s not healthy and nourishing. All it does is fill your belly and brain with feel-good chemicals that fool you into believing you’re full and satisfied. You’re not. You’re addicted to eating this food and it’s doing serious damage to your health.
Junk Food Addiction is Not Your Fault
If you’re addicted to junk food, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault. Food manufacturing companies literally spend millions of dollars developing concoctions of chemicals that ensure you’ll never want to stop eating them.
Synthetic chemicals like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrogenated oils, refined flour, and refined salt have been shown to change the way your brain is wired.
Clinical studies have shown that people who consume junk food have reduced activity in the part of their brain called the striatum. The striatum is a section of the forebrain the registered reward. This means, like any addict, you must consume more and more junk food in order to get the same ‘high’ you felt the first time you ate it.
Addiction to junk food causes the brain receptors that receive dopamine (feel-good chemical) signals begin to lose their responsiveness, leading to addiction, craving, and withdrawal.
How to Wean Off of Junk Food
If you have a junk food addiction, weaning off of it can be as difficult as trying to give up heroine or cocaine. Really. Just like anyone who is addicted to any mind-altering substance, you’re going to experience withdrawal symptoms. That’s why it’s been so hard to give up junk food all this time. You’re not crazy. Those headaches, shakes, and mood swings you were experiencing were 100% real.
That doesn’t mean that giving up junk food has to be painful and terrible. Not if you follow these steps.
- Educate Yourself
If you want to conquer your junk food addiction, it’s very important to do some research. Reading scientific articles about the synthetic chemicals in processed food will give you tangible evidence that what you’re experiencing is real. Educating yourself about the chemicals in food will give you a sense of empowerment as well as the knowledge you need to make healthier food choices. Something as simple as understanding how to read food labels will open your eyes and change the way you think about food.
- Make Fair Trades
When most people think about giving up junk food, they think about throwing all their favorite snacks in the trash and choking down a salad. This is why most people never move beyond this visual image down a road to better health. It just seems too hard, too depriving to be worth it. Instead of seeing it as giving up junk food completely, make fair trades.
The next time you’re at the supermarket, visit the health food section. Look for organic snacks with 5 or fewer ingredients. Eating organic candy, chips, and dark chocolate can help ease withdrawal symptoms while treating your junk food addiction from the inside out. Quality snack foods have a similar (but better) taste and will give your body real nourishment with no addictive chemicals.
- Take it Slow
Don’t just quit junk food cold turkey. Remember, it’s a drug and you’re addicted to it. Instead, take it slow. Make some trades, shop organic, and give up one junk food at a time. Completely giving up junk food can take up to one year. It may seem like a long time but it’s worth it for your health.
- Eat More Protein and Healthy Fat
All this time you’ve been eating a steady diet of junk food and chemicals, your body has been starving for protein and healthy fat. To stave off withdrawal and junk food cravings, eat plenty of organic protein and the right kind of fat.
Meat, poultry, fish, beans, nut butters, hummus, Greek yogurt, coconut oil, avocado, butter, and olive oil are all good sources of the protein and fat that will satisfy your hunger and keep those junk food cravings at bay.
Junk food can be one of the most powerful drugs you’ve ever given up. It will be hard at first but once you get to the other side of the fence, you won’t crave it anymore. It will no longer look, taste, or smell appealing. The more real, wholesome, organic food you eat, the more you’ll want it. You won’t develop a new addiction; you’ll just be rewiring your brain the way it was meant to function.
And you’ll be a whole lot healthier for it!
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