When you hear the word addiction, what do you automatically think of? Drugs? A bad hobby?

Most don’t think over-eating can be just as addicting.

“People are trapped into this behavior without knowing," said Internal Medicine specialist Dr. Padmaja Patel at Midland Memorial. 

Dr. Patel says as far as addictions, certain foods have a similar chemical effect on our brains.

“Experts have proven that that certain foods, like for example, cheese and meat and sugar and salt can have similar effects on your brain.. releasing what we call as a chemical substance like dopamine. This has that feel good effect which causes hype-stimulation which means the more you eat, the more you feel good," said Patel.

But just because that Big Mac and fries from McDonald's excites your taste buds doesn’t necessarily mean your body is on the same page.

“There’s no nutritional value to processed food but when you eat that you feel good but then your stomach is not full. So there’s no satiety which means you have to eat more because you’re hungry. So this is the pattern that we’re getting into," said Patel.

Dr. Patel also mentions the struggle for us from a marketing standpoint.

“There is food policy which allows the cheaper foods to be unhealthy food, whereas healthier food is harder to find it is expensive. Same way marketing there are billions of dollars each year spent on marketing where were lured to make it these choices and it really affects what we end up buying in the grocery store," said Patel.

"The way they are marketed throughout the shelf levels and there’s a huge industry behind that, that the average consumer has no idea." 

Last but not least, our specific location that also plays a role.

“Locally I think we have two challenges. Number one obviously we have too many fast food options around us. They are tempting us all the time. So that is one of the challenges that I see among the patients that I see. They just don't have time, they either have two jobs or they work long hours locally because of the growing oil and gas economy-we are also struggling because of that," said Patel.

But Dr. Patel says most of us are more than capable of reversing a bad habit with the right tools and information.

Coming up on January 23 at Midland Memorial's Lifestyle Center, Dr. Patel is hosting a class to specifically give additional information and tips on how to fight a food addiction. The class is $5 and will run from 6- 7 p.m. 

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