Are You Addicted to Food?
Food can enslave the brain just like drugs can. Dr. Nora Volkow’s research may help you take back control.
Addicted to Food?
Volkow, a lithe woman with short blonde curls, provides example after example of instances in which she has succumbed to the food’s lure. Chocolate-covered raisins. Godiva at a bookstore. Chocolate-chip cookies. The woman really, really likes chocolate.
But is she an addict? People talk about being “addicted to sugar,” “addicted to potato chips” and, probably most commonly, “addicted to chocolate.” Volkow has been attempting to figure out whether we truly can be addicted to food by peering into people’s minds with high-tech scanners. She has already shown that obese people’s brains look similar to the brains of those addicted to drugs. She’s finding that food, especially the highly palatable fatty, sugary kinds that pack the inner aisles of American supermarkets, fast-food joints and, yes, vending machines, can enslave anyone and change their behaviors.
The more she can understand how “rewarding” substances, like drugs and yummy foods, can activate parts of our brains associated with addiction, the more she can help us learn how to take back control of our actions—or never lose our free will in the first place.