Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Junk food bliss

Have you heard the news?  Food companies commit substancial resources to figuring out how to manipulate food composition that in turn manipulates brain chemistry that makes people have a serious craving for eating that food.

They actually call it the "bliss point".  A sense of satisfaction that is achieved with the right dose (large dose) of sugar, salt, and fat.

What's interesting is that once hooked, you don't need to be stimulated by advertising to provoke the idea of eating more junk, you'll take care of that yourself.  Or, your brain will.

Once the brain gets that hyper-stimulis it will want to get it again.  Your brain adapts by influencing your reasoning to justify seeking out this junk food.

It isn't just candy bars and potato chips. Everything from poutine to salads, pasta, dinner rolls, wraps, burgers, milk shakes, ice cream, yogurt, soups, sandwiches, and even some veggie burgers.  Most of these foods can be made without high concentrations of sugar, salt, and fat.. (poutine not so much) and can be enjoyed without the hyper altered brain chemistry.  You'd be hard pressed though to find restaurants or packaged food companies not making foods with this "bliss point" chemistry, and that's why you want it so much.

You will most likely be oblivious to the actual reasons for the cravings, but you will feel strongly motivated to want to eat junk, and moreover to defend eating junk.  Eating junk and celebrating eating junk with others makes it a communal event, and re-enforces positive association with overeating bliss point junk food.

You may believe that you're arguing in support of eating junk because it's your right to choose, or that it doesn't really cause any harm, or that you do it only occasionally.. and some of the time, these reasons may apply.  Most of the time it will be because of a narcotic like addiction process.

Like a junkie in denial of overtly justifying their next hit, all of us that have experienced junk food bliss are actually responding to the brain chemistry changes that are caused by a mega dose of salt, sugar, and fat.

You think you simply like junk food as a matter of personal choice.  Perhaps partially, but really it's triggered brain chemistry that is desperately trying to achieve the reward stimulation provided by the food.

It's psychologically challenging to overcome the expected reward of the bliss point reward.  Once hooked, overeating foods with high concentrations of salt, sugar, and fat becomes a habituated norm.  Trying to break the habit results in withdrawal symptoms.

To make it worse, since the majority of the population is into seeking foods with this chemical bliss point, it is difficult to find support amongst peers to avoid this food.  More likely, your peers will try to cajole or guilt you into giving in to the junk food bliss.  Who can blame them?  They're like you: addicted, and unaware of the underlying brain chemistry that is the driver of the desire felt to eat and eat and eat.

Ok I'll lighten up a little now.

Happily this can all be reversed by realizing that our desire for junk food bliss is really from hijacked brain chemistry, and that the effect is reversible.

Choose healthy foods.  One of the greatest things about eating healthy, aside from that it's healthy, is that there is no baggage with it.  You never have the post-eating guilt associated with appeasing oneself through junk food bliss, and you never have excessive cravings to overeat that are caused by the "bliss point".

Expect emotional challenges with denying the overconsumption of crap food.  If you make it through this though, your brain will adapt to being satisfied with healthy eating.

What about those companies doing dastardly deeds in the lab; purposefully making unhealthy, cheap to make foods, addictive?

Shouldn't that be illegal? That's debatable.  It isn't like we don't have a choice though.

The special interest groups can battle it out with food companies to try to sway favor with legislators.. in the meantime, we have power over our own choices.

We all have the choice to not fall for junk food bliss, even though due to altered brain chemistry, that choice can be difficult to follow through on.

No comments:

Post a Comment