Researchers have found, repeatedly, that certain substances “light up” the same areas in the brains of their participants as drugs.
The media then reports that our brains show that these substances are as “addictive” as drugs.
Bad reporting. No cookie for you.
The part of the brain reacting is the pleasure or reward centers.
This part of your brain reacts to anything your brain finds pleasurable.
So yes, your brain might “light up” when you eat sugar or chocolate.
Your brain might also “light up” when you look at a beautiful picture.
That doesn’t mean you are addicted to that picture.
No more than you are addicted to music, love, and laughing.
All of which “light up” the reward/pleasure centers of your brain.
It just means that your brain is saying, “Yummy!” or “I like that.”
Making your brain happy is something associated with drugs too.
But your brain being happy does not necessarily equate to addiction.
Addiction (like pretty much everything else about our bodies and brains) is way more complicated.
Definition: Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.
And because of all this bad reporting and non-skeptical acceptance by their audience, people start saying they (or their kids or someone else) is “addicted” to some type food that everyone has agreed is bad for you (thus shoring up that belief that a certain food is “bad” for you, or causes you to completely lose control).
Adding moral values to food is a really bad path to start down.
Restricting a food usually backfires.
And restricting a type of food, whether restricted by a parent, a person of authority (a doctor) or some other power (a lover), or you: is basically, dieting behavior.
And all the negative results of dieting – like:
* disordered eating
* sneaking food
* binge eating
Not letting someone have a certain kind of food, gives that food an allure, makes it more desirable, and when you have a chance to eat that food, you may act like you’ll never get another chance.
I do admit however, this restriction thing does not always work that way – for example, I have restricted kale from my diet and I have no desire to go out an eat a bucketful of the stuff.
Also, from my own experience, now that I am a grown up, I find that I don’t HAVE to eat that whole bag of chips in one sitting – because I know there are more at the store and if I want more, I can go get them and eat them.
It took many years to get to the point where I realized that I can have anything I want to eat and as much as I want; and thus, I don’t have to buy and eat everything at once. It’s okay. It’s just food.
If you grew up in a diet culture, as I did, you know that it is not easy to get to that realization.
So, the sooner you stop messing with a kid’s (or your own) natural relationship between food and the body (which is different for each of us), the less time that kid (or you) will have to spend undoing the damage.
Don’t believe me?
Stop moralizing food.
It’s just food for fuck’s sake.