Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Heroine vs. Happy Meals Which Addiction is Harder to Kick?

I may catch some heat for this post as people often look at me like I'm crazy when I say that heroine addicts have it easy when it comes to overcoming an addiction.  However, when they hear why, they start to realize my theory actually makes sense.  I recently read a book by Dr. Pam Peeke titled "The Hunger Fix." The book talks about how recent science provides support for the idea that people can actually be addicted to FOOD.  My first thought was "Give me a break, it sounds like a cop-out excuse written by a bunch of overweight people..." However, after reading further and learning more about what the science tells us, I quickly changed my mind.

There have been several studies looking at people who are overweight and how they respond when they are presented with food. What scientists have found is quite interesting.  They actually performed functional MRI's on individuals while they were presented with food and compared them to functional MRI scans of heroine addicts when presented with heroine.  And lo and behold, their brain activity appeared similar suggesting that the presentation of food to some individuals can elicit similar effects as an addictive drug.  This same phenomena has been replicated in mice where in a similar study researchers got mice addicted to cocaine and then later introduced sugar water to them. They provided the mice with the option of sugar water or cocaine and even though they had been previously physically addicted to cocaine they still opted for the sugar water!  

Apparently sugar is a lot more powerful than we thought and that sweet tooth craving you get may be stronger than you every could've imagined. Okay, so sugar can be addicting, why is a sweet tooth worse than an addiction to deadly narcotics???

We've established that both of them can be physically addicting and when consumed in excess can also be a danger to your health. Granted narcotics are a lot more dangerous in the short-term as they have a stronger physiological response and psycho-social impact not to mention easier to overdose on; food, specifically sugar, can also be very detrimental to your health and cause all kinds of issues (i.e. cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome etc.) it just takes a lot longer to take effect.

See why it might be easier to kick hard drugs below:

So why is quitting heroine easier?
By no means am I downplaying an addiction to heroine as it is a very serious condition that is not easy to overcome, however heroine addicts do not NEED heroine to survive on a day to day basis. Conversely, food addicts need to eat. They can't ween themselves off or stop cold turkey as their bodies require nutrients to survive. Granted, they don't need the sugary junk food they may be addicted to but they still need to eat food to some extent. That means they need to go to the grocery store or to a restaurant to buy food and come face to face with their addiction EVERY MEAL OF EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Narcotics are not sold in every convenience store, supermarket and restaurant; they are not advertised on television, billboards and magazines. Food addicts are constantly reminded of their addiction and need to some how come up with a way to overcome the urges and opt for healthier options instead of their vice aka comfort food.  In my opinion, this is an incredibly difficult challenge and one that makes weight loss and changing dietary habits near impossible for some individuals.  So show a little compassion when someone says they are struggling with their diet and can't seem to fight their urges as they have a lot going against them.

Now the pregnancy cravings that my wife gets is a whole different story and there is no way I am standing in between her and her ice cream :)

We realize we just present the problem here and next week we will have a post with some ideas and tips on how to eat healthy on a budget and help avoid the addiction of sugar.

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