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Food Can Be as Addictive as Heroin

If you're frustrated because you can't seem to stay away for certain foods, it may make you feel better to know that, according to Dr. Neal Barnard, "Certain foods?chocolates, cheeses, sugars, starches and meats?are capable of stimulating the same part of the brain that responds to alcohol, tobacco, even heroin. They unleash a chemical called dopamine, the brain's feel-good chemical, and that's why those foods are addictive."

Lots of us are food junkies, and those of us who are hooked have withdrawal symptoms if we don't get our fix. "That's where the cravings come from," Barnard says. "People feel hooked on these foods." Some foods aren't only addictive?they actually stimulate your appetite, making you more hungry. When we mainline starches and sweets, they cause sugar to rush into the blood, making our energy level rise too quickly. Then it falls just as fast, so we feel like we need to eat something to bring it back up again. Some starches, like pasta, don't do this, however. "Eat it ? it's not a bad starch," Barnard says.

How to get that monkey off your back? Take a break from your substance abuse. "If you haven't had chocolate for three weeks, you won't crave it," Barnard says. "You'll break the cycle."

Drug addicts and alcoholics have to stay away from their substances for life, but food addicts can still have their favorite stuff?occasionally. Barnard says, "You can have it once a week, and enjoy it without a care."

Ever experience that special kind of Hunger?

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