The Addictive Qualities of Food

Barely 48 hours ago, we got an 8-week old puppy.

Barely 48 hours ago, we got an 8-week old puppy.

Ask anyone what their favorite food is and they can name at least one food off the top of their head. For me, it’s dark chocolate. And peanut butter. And potato chips. (See what I mean?) There are lots of reasons we may love these foods, but sometimes it’s the result of ingredients that affect our brain chemistry, rather than just appeal to our taste buds.

Caffeine has addictive properties, sending us into withdrawal symptoms if we don’t get our fix. If you can’t put down that bag of Doritos, it’s because MSG is added to heighten the flavor, making us want more, more, more. A study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that artificial sweeteners actually encourage the brain to request more sugar. Foods like oysters, chocolate, or chili peppers are purported to have chemicals that trigger an aphrodisiac effect.

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Daily Dessert or Occasional Treat?

Sugar Cane Field in Costa Rica

Sugar Cane Field in Costa Rica- Botanically it’s a grass.

Before my lifestyle change, I felt like desserts and snacks were off-limits. Desserts were reserved for a special occasion and snacks were destined to ruin my appetite for the next meal. So when I broke down and “cheated”, it was big, like a Friendly’s Peanut Butter Cup sundae, New York cheesecake, or a bag of doughnut holes. Because I felt deprived, these indulgences did far more damage–physically and psychologically–than if I gave myself the choice to have treats on a daily basis.

My lifestyle change helped me to change my attitude toward desserts and treats. By adding them into my daily regimen, I no longer felt as though they were off-limits and that I should feel guilty if I had them, so they no longer had that hold over me that led to binges. I’d managed to control this food addict demon.

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Kick the Candy, Keep the Bar

I’m a total chocoholic. I can’t get enough of the stuff. When I work from home, my afternoon snack is often 3 squares of 88% dark chocolate. I keep a bar stashed in my desk drawer. Michael came in one afternoon while I was indulging and made the mistake of asking if he could have a piece of candy. I thought the chocolate bar was going to melt right there on the desk from the gravity of the insult. He corrected himself pretty quickly, so I deigned to share with him, but egad!

chocolate

The Facts
There’s a considerable difference between chocolate and candy. That is, real chocolate is not the stuff that ends up in a candy bar. A perfect example is Hershey’s Special Dark. It’s cocoa content–and that’s what you want to look for–is only 45%, versus my 88% Endangered Species Dark Chocolate jaguar bar. (Each different bar highlights a different animal.) Herein lies the difference between a candy bar and a chocolate bar: Continue reading