Do you find yourself craving for that oh so unbelievably yummy burger? Does the very thought of those French fries make you want to run to the nearest McDonald’s and grab some? Are you sure you’re not a fast food addict? Read on to find out and to find ways to beat the addiction.
According to a new study at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, fast foods are as addictive as hard drugs like heroin and tobacco. Yes, we think it’s time you were worried. It’s not just adults who have to be worried. All ages – toddlers to nonagenarians need to watch out.
The movie Supersize Me about a man who eats nothing but food from McDonalds is an eye opener for all of us who feel that kick of happiness as we gobble down burgers and pizza puffs. Sugar and food stimulate the brain in much the same way as drugs. And the cravings become deeper and harder to let go of the deeper into the addiction one is.
The scary part is that one doesn’t realise that one is addicted until it’s nearly too late; and the weight tale has gone a steep northern direction. There one thing to do is to always watch what you eat. Jyoti Arora, head dietician, Artemis, says, “Have small pieces of whatever you indulge in. Remember, it’s all about the portions you eat and not what you eat.” Other than this one of the most tell-tale signs of an addiction are when you feel uncomfortable or ‘out of sorts’ if you cannot get that usual fat-and-carbs dose of junk food.
The hardest step is accepting that you have an addiction. Once you’ve crossed the stage of denial, will power is the one thing that can save you. “Will power is supreme and in some cases even counselling helps,” agrees Max Health care’s chief dietician Dr Ritika Samaddar. Do not yield to the craving.
A craving, say psychotherapists, only lasts for a total of 15 minutes. Drink water when you think you feel hungry. The body often mistakes the signal for thirst as one of hunger. Going cold turkey is a great way to beat an addiction. But some doctors recommend that you go a few days at a time without your junk food. First one day; and then reward yourself with something small. Don’t hog on the big burger, but maybe half a packet of fries. Then try going two days without any junk food. And increase that interval gradually until you no longer feel the craving; even if it does make you uncomfortable for the first few days.
“Saying no to fast food helps,” says Arora, “but not in the long run.” It also depends on number of factors such as how you have been born and bought up and also your family attitude towards food.” Children whose eating habits are unsupervised often suffer from this sort of addiction. Abhay (name changed), 14 years of age and studying in a well known south Delhi school weighs 121 kilos and this is his lifestyle: He wakes up too late to have any breakfast on school days so ends up munching on some biscuits in the car on his way to school. In school, it’s usually a couple of samosas and a soft drink from the school canteen, at home for lunch, most days he orders pizza or burgers and fries (“because home food is seriously boring,” he laments).
Several times, he’s too full to have any dinner, plus there are always soft drinks and various munchies on the side of the computer. He stays up till late and when he feels hungry, he reaches for the crisps and sips a soft drink. His parents are both working and the only supervised meal he eats is dinner, which he often skips. This child is, in his own words, “seriously” addicted to fast food.
Parental supervision and an early inculcation into the healthy lifestyle strategy goes a long way in establishing a healthy life for kids. America’s big problem in the 21st century is of teenage obesity and along with the lifestyles of the west, we may be well on our way to importing that problem as well. As they say in that part of the world, watch out!!
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