Saturday, September 23, 2023

Junk Food For Thought

By Naina Grewal, 25 Sep, 2020
  • Junk Food For Thought

What happens to your brain on junk food?

link to read  e-magazine on

Every night, you make a resolution. Starting tomorrow, I will eat healthy. I will resist the temptation of junk food. Tomorrow is the day I start treating my body right. Come morning, you might start strong and have a bowl of fruits. However, the adrenaline wears off as you find yourself enjoying a bowl of French fries with your favorite soda once the afternoon settles in. The struggle is real.

Junk food is just so easy to cave into. You are not alone in falling prey to the enticing smell, taste and aura of your favorite treat.

In fact, there is a science behind it. Often defined as foods that provide low or no nutritional value to your body, junk foods are known to have a direct impact on the way your brain functions. For this reason, understanding what exactly happens to your brain on junk food can help you combat the cravings and start taking steps towards a heathier lifestyle.

Sukhy Mahal, Registered Professional Counsellor of Surrey Weight loss Clinic, shares, “Junk food gives a feeling of pleasure as it releases dopamine. This leaves a person feeling temporarily satisfied. When this feeling wears off, we look for it again and have created a vicious cycle.” Eating junk food activates the reward system in our brain and releases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is a "feel good" chemical.

For this reason, junk food may almost seem to have addictive qualities. Junk food is usually high in ingredients that are not necessarily the best for our body in copious amounts – salt, sugar, and fat. To top it off, junk food is readily available and is often cheaper to purchase than healthier options. Despite the high-calorie count, it is simply hard to resist. Having a couple of chips or tasting one spoon of ice cream often leaves us longing for more. Psychology Student, Linda Magyari, elaborates further, “Eventually our brains become accustomed to a specific level of dopamine and we may begin to eat more junk food to experience more pleasurable feelings. This how an addiction can occur.”

Although this may make it seem impossible to escape the alluring technicalities of junk food, Registered Dietician, Whitney Hussain, offers insight. “Treats can have impacts on our stress levels by decreasing our cortisol levels, the stress hormones. Treat foods are not necessarily ‘addicting’, but rather make us feel good, especially during times of stress. Working on ways to decrease our stress levels are important, including focusing on non-food related activities like exercise, reading, or spending time with
loved ones.”

Deductively, it seems that slowly beginning to replace junk food with other activities that naturally release dopamine, may be a good strategy. Depending on each person, these activities can range along a variety of spectrums, including exercise, meditation, listening to music, sleeping, getting a massage, listening to music, spending time in nature, and watching a movie.

To truly stir change in your diet, the key lies in first determining the reason you are eating junk food. Hussain often asks her clients questions like, “Is it stress? Are you mindlessly eating with distractions? Is it part of your routine? Are you missing out on certain nutrients? Are you just not eating enough throughout the day?”

After answering these questions, it is then vital to create a goal, which may be a certain size, weight, or the way you feel about yourself. If feeling overwhelmed in the beginning towards what your game plan should be, or if you are just looking for accountability, you can also outsource support from an app, a friend, or a dietician. Using such tools to aid your lifestyle changes can be a catalyst in working on the mindset shift that is much needed when decreasing intake of junk food.

Mahal describes a winning approach to thinking about food intake, “Our bodies are like a relationship: you get back what you put into it. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet; most people think that they can eat whatever they want and then work out. This is not the case. Abs are made in the kitchen and 90% of our results – good or bad – are based on diet.” Information is power. Now that you are well-versed with how junk food has just the right tricks to entice your brain into habitual consumption, take back the control and keep the junk where it belongs!






Importance of Diwali 

Importance of Diwali 

Diwali holds significance not only for Hindus but also for followers of Sikhism and Jainism.

Keeping the Tradition of Diwali Alive

Keeping the Tradition of Diwali Alive

Despite all these motivations to value Diwali, the significance of it has the potentiality of fading away, due to the decreased interest showed in it by the next generation. 

Be the Light: 7 Easy ways to Give Back

Amidst the festivities that lace the celebrations of our nears and dears, here are seven easy ways to give back to your community this Diwali season

Human Connections: The Light in our Lives

Having deep, meaningful relationships and affiliation with a group of people creates a sense of acceptance and helps people feel supported. 

The Many Histories of Diwali

Sikhism and Hinduism host perhaps the more prominent and well-known forms of celebration associated with Diwali. 

Diwali: A Healthy Celebration

Eating in moderation and choosing healthier options will help you and your family to reduce your risk of disease such as diabetes and heart disease.