We live in a society permeated by fast food restaurants. Off every exit ramp of the interstate, in small towns, even in grocery stores you may find quickly slapped together fast food restaurants serving customers all the time. Some of these chains even stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Might you be addicted to fast food? What makes fast food so addictive? Read on to find out if fast food addiction might be a problem for you, and what you can do to curb your addiction:
What Makes Fast Food so Addictive?
Fast food addiction is perpetrated by not only what is in fast food itself, but also in the way it is marketed. Research has found that not only does high fat, salt, sugar, and caffeine content in various forms of fast food, from burgers to coffee, drive a person’s addiction to fast food. The types of branding used, colors, and more may actually make fast food comforting to many people. It does not just taste good, but fast food itself is designed to be a product that consumers purchase again and again. These marketing tactics, convenience, taste, and contents of fast food items themselves have all led, in part, to the obesity epidemic in the United States.
More Addictive than Drugs
The more consumers’ purchase of these types of products, the more of them they want. Salt and high fat content pleases our taste buds, while sugar may lead to increased release of tryptophan in the brain, raising levels of serotonin, a naturally occurring substance that can have pain killing qualities. Caffeine can give consumers a short burst of energy that people can crave. These things combined can make fast food products as addictive as the illegal drug heroin. If you are looking to lose weight, eat less, or transition to a healthier lifestyle, fast food addiction is a habit you must break. But how? To do so may seem overwhelming, but there are certain tactics you can take.
Tracking What You Eat
One of the ways to determine if you are addicted to fast food is to carefully track the number of times you frequent fast food restaurants. Keep a journal, if you must. Do you go very frequently? When are the times you find yourself at fast food places most often? How much money per month do you spend on fast food, as opposed to less processed foods? These are all important things to consider when you are investigating whether or not you have a this addiction. The first step in breaking any addiction is to determine that you actually have a problem.
Talking with Your Doctor
If you think you might have an addiction to fast food, based upon the number of calories you consume from fast food, the amount of money you are spending, and the types of foods you find yourself craving, talk to your doctor. Your healthcare professional may be able to help you determine if you have an addiction, how serious it is, and how to change your diet and lifestyle to begin breaking your addiction. Once you begin to break your addiction, you will find that you feel healthier, happier, and are saving money. Don’t see the adjustment as a punishment. Many people have successfully eliminated fast food from their diets. You will struggle, but you can reward yourself with a small monetary amount, or by having a small portion of some kind of food you crave. Just understand that breaking any addiction is a process.
Steps They May Recommend
Your doctor may recommend a specific diet plan (such as the food addict’s diet), a plan filled with less processed and more natural foods, and even an exercise plan. There may be some vitamins and minerals that your addiction to fast food has depleted over the years, so they may even recommend some supplements to add to your diet to help support you as your transition. Some of these supplements may help with sugar withdrawal, or the lethargy you experience from removing caffeine or sugar from your diet. Most certainly, your doctor will ask you to stop drinking sodas, remove junk food from your home, and begin to eat meals prepared at home more often than before. They will recommend that you replace salty, fatty, or sugary snacks with healthier ones, such as fruits or vegetables.
These steps to breaking fast food addiction may seem challenging, but the life change is worth it, as you will see better health, savings and may even see weight loss, as well as lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. You can help yourself to stick to these changes by planning your meals, making fast food less convenient for you, packing healthy meals for when you are on the go.