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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Addicted to chocolate or just an excuse for gluttony?

By Michael Craig Miller, M.D.




The significant differences between drugs of addiction and food


JewishWorldReview.com | Q. A friend jokes she is a "chocoholic." Can you really become addicted to chocolate or other foods? A. With so many Americans overweight or obese, public health experts are also asking this question. Since it is so difficult to follow the simple advice to "eat a healthy diet" and "exercise more," they realize that food might have addictive properties. Yet common sense demands that food — even chocolate — be placed in a different category from substances like heroin or alcohol.

Addiction involves three essential components: intense craving, loss of control over the object of that craving, and continuing involvement despite bad consequences. Preliminary evidence demonstrates that people can exhibit all three elements when it comes to food.

Consider the phenomenon of craving, for example. For individuals addicted to substances, environmental cues — such as a neighborhood bar or the smoking area at work — can trigger craving. Similarly, many people find that seeing or smelling food can trigger their appetite, even if they have just eaten a satisfying meal.

But your friend's joke about being a chocoholic is a reminder that not all foods induce cravings. The midnight run for a pint of ice cream is familiar, but I've never heard of anyone trolling for celery at that hour. This observation is consistent with research that demonstrates what we might expect if food were addicting — high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods trigger reward pathways in animal brains, and restricting these foods can induce a stress-like response in some of the animals studied.

Chocolate, which contains both sugar and fat, is often used in studies of food addiction. In a study published in Archives of General Psychiatry, for example, researchers at Yale University asked volunteers to fill out questionnaires to assess addictive behavior. The volunteers then underwent brain imaging while being able to see and smell, and then finally drink, a chocolate milkshake. Participants who scored higher on the food addiction scale experienced a surge of activity in the part of the brain that regulates cravings and rewards when presented with the chocolate milkshake. Once they started drinking it, they showed markedly reduced activity in areas of the brain that we use to control the impulse to seek rewards. A similar pattern of brain activity is found in people addicted to drugs.

In another study, this one involving candy, researchers at Drexel University concluded that people experienced psychological reactions while eating chocolate — such as intense pleasure and craving for more — that were similar to those experienced on drugs.

The epidemic of obesity may at once epitomize all of the key components of addiction. Many people who are overweight crave food, lose control over eating, and experience negative health effects that should, but don't, serve as a deterrent. And the influence of stress on eating provides another link between food and addictive behavior. Those who have broken free of an addiction tend to relapse when they are under stress — partly because they begin craving the comfort they experienced while using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. In the same way, stress is often what prompts people to go off a diet.


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Despite intriguing parallels, however, there are also significant differences between drugs of addiction and food. The most obvious one is that food is necessary for survival, while addictive drugs are not. And this makes treatment more of a challenge too. It's not possible to go off food, as it were, cold turkey.

Moreover, researchers have yet to identify the addictive component of foods. We know that nicotine in cigarettes causes addiction, for example. But what exactly is it about chocolate that causes addiction? The studies showing how the animal brain responds to sugar and fat are interesting, but far from conclusive.

Whether "chocoholism" exists or not, most of us are stuck with the simple, if frustrating, advice to moderate our consumption. Health depends less on what we call our behavior than on paying attention to the hundreds of small but important choices we have to make every day.

— Michael Craig Miller, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Mental Health Letter

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