Eating junk food for a while could leave your brain’s response to food “permanently altered”? How. Nice.
That would be the punchline of an article I can’t get out of my head. Good thing dinner looked like this:
But I’m hardly immune to the siren call of pizza, ice cream, cookies…the usual suspects, you know? My blog is not intended to be misleading—sure, only the clean eats make it into a post, but this never was and never will be a daily food journal. I would hope no one is appalled to discover that I’m a human being! And that means allowing myself to enjoy “lesser” foods without guilt if/when I’m moved to do so. Those foods are in the minority among my more regular eats, but banishing them entirely does not work for me, nor do I care to try.
Besides, meals like these tend to keep me more than happy on a daily basis:
Still, I couldn’t help but be disturbed to the core after reading this passage in aforementioned article:
After just five days on the junk food diet, rats showed “profound reductions” in the sensitivity of their brains’ pleasure centers, suggesting that the animals quickly became habituated to the food. As a result, the rats ate more food to get the same amount of pleasure. Just as heroin addicts require more and more of the drug to feel good, rats needed more and more of the junk food. “They lose control,” Kenny says. “This is the hallmark of addiction.”
As if to shove the point down my throat (literally), tonight I had a rather telling encounter with the leftover rice pudding from the Diwali party Saturday. I’d actually all but forgotten about it, but after dinner I spied it in the fridge and, remembering how good it was, tasted a small spoonful. I immediately wanted to plunge my head into the vat of pudding-y goodness and not come up for air until I’d licked the tub clean. But having read this article comparing junk food to heroin addiction, I settled for another spoonful and replaced the lid. A couple pieces of dried fruit and a mug of peppermint tea later, I’ve all but forgotten about the rice pudding again.
Sure, this article takes a rather alarmist tone and highlights only one small study (on rats, for that matter, but that’s another discussion). I’m well aware that I’ll likely drive myself crazy if I let myself think of every bite of “junk food” as a hit that’s “damaging the response of [my] pleasure centers.” I do, however, think that this study serves as
a(nother) reminder of how important it is for us to nourish ourselves with clean, whole foods as often as possible. And the beauty of clean eating is that the more you do it, the more you want to do it and the less appealing the junk food becomes. That’s hard to believe when you have a mouth full of Oreos (trust me, I’ve been there—recently!), but if time and persistence have taught me anything, it’s that
love vegetables conquer all. You just have to give them a chance. Moderation need not apply.
The article in question is quite short, if you care to have a look. How does it make YOU feel?