I’m reading a very interesting book called “Hooked” by Michael Moss. In this book, he talks about the brain on processed foods, and I want to share a little bit about this.
This book is really about how much more addicting processed foods can be than alcohol, smoking, or even drugs. The speed at which the sugar touches your tongue and connects to the reward circuitry of your brain is about 600 milliseconds. This is 20 times faster than if you were to smoke a cigarette and have nicotine enter the brain.
Apparently, some food companies have even suppressed some of the research on sugar. Not only that, but they’ve influenced various laws to prevent being sued for side effects that occur from consuming processed foods. In the 70s, food companies even started buying up the diet industry.
I believe processed foods and sugar fit into the category of addictions. There are certain criteria that must be met to diagnose addiction or substance use disorder. If you meet 2-3 of the criteria, you have a mild substance use disorder. If you meet 4-5, this is considered a moderate substance use disorder. If you meet 6 or more, you have a severe substance use disorder.
The criteria includes:
1. Hazardous use Is the substance dangerous to yourself or others? Can you overdose on it?
2. Social or interpersonal problems related to use Are there relationship problems or conflicts with others related to use?
3. Neglected major roles Failing to meet responsibility at work, school, or home because of substance use.
4. Withdrawal When you stop using the substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms.
5. Tolerance You’ve built up a tolerance to the substance, so you have to do more to get the same effect.
6. Use larger amounts or use the substance for longer periods of time
7. Repeated attempts to control use or quit You’ve tried to cut back or quit entirely but have not been successful.
8. Much time spent using You dedicate a lot of time to the substance or eating the processed food.
9. Physical or psychological problems related to use Your substance abuse has lead to physical health problems, such as liver damage or lung cancer, or psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety.
10. Giving up on activities You’ve stopped doing some of the activities you once enjoyed in order to use the substance.
11. Cravings You experience cravings for the substance.