Nothing beats getting home after a particularly hard day at work, settling down into your comfortable couch, and chowing down on some of your favorite comfort foods. However, before you reach for that next bag of delicious potato chips, you might want to know how much the impulse to put salty snacks into your mouth can affect more than just your waist size.
Dopamine: The Hormone That’s Getting You Hooked
Have you ever noticed that you have a bigger tendency to reach for those edible guilty pleasures when you have had a particularly bad day? Scientists believe that dopamine was originally meant to push us to do the right things—that is, do something about a less-than-ideal situation in order to make it better—but more often than not, we end up sabotaging ourselves instead by choosing the wrong choices. This happens because our brain links the notion of a reward to items and experiences that not only damage our body but also bring us short bursts of pleasure.
Undoing Your Addictions Naturally
- Eliminate all sources of temptation. If you are having trouble avoiding the snacks in your pantry, don’t buy several bags of them the next time you hit the grocery. This is because even just the sight of a stimulus is already enough to activate the chemical process in your brain, causing you to feel like you have to have it. Keep this simple mantra in mind: if it’s out of sight, then it is also literally out of your mind.
- Resist the urge to indulge. No matter how much that snack is egging you on to consume it, focus instead on the negative effects of gorging yourself on a meal. But be careful, as this technique might actually make you feel guilty about the times that you did give in, causing you to think that one more time probably won’t hurt.
- Replace the bad stuff with the good. If you really can’t help but look for a dose of your favorite food, you can try weaning yourself off of them by switching to less damaging alternatives. For instance, you can switch your morning coffee out for a cup of hot tea instead, as both of them contain caffeine, the substance you are likely getting addicted to. You can even switch out your regular cup of java for a decaffeinated version, if all you are looking for is the taste and smell of the beverage.
The Takeaway: Get Hooked on Healthier Habits
Addiction can be a scary concept to battle with, especially if you have been having trouble keeping your year-round resolutions about going on a healthier lifestyle. Though it can be a very challenging goal to achieve, it is certainly not an impossible one. Keep your head up, even during the days that you give in to the temptation, and as long as you do not give up, you should eventually be able to wean yourself off of your addictive edible item of choice.