Polar Bear

Polar Bear
My Boy

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snot-my new best friend

You know when you are walking through the mall, and you reach the foodcourt area?  I have gotten to where I avoid going anywhere NEAR it-not just for the lines of mean hungry people jutting out into the walkway...

Walking past the foodcourt always makes me STARVING, no matter the time of day.  You know the feeling-the waft of pizza, chinese, and burgers mingling should make us all want to puke, but strangely to me my food addict brain can tease out each food scent and I suddenly want ALL THREE.


Everyone knows foods make us hungry, but why?  Studies have shown that seeing food images trigger hunger, but what about just a waft of fried chicken, baked cookies, french fries?


A study in a 2010 issue of Obesity (18:8, p.1566-1571) conducted at Indiana University School of Medicine by Veronique Bragulat et al. tested the cerebral effects of food ODORS.


Two groups of people, normal weight and obese, were fasted for 24 hours.  They were given four food choices and were told to rank them in preference of eating.  Then they were exposed to these four food-related odors (two sweet and two fatty food scents), and four non-food odors such as chemicals and fir trees.  This all occurred while they were strapped to a brain scanner.

The odors of the most preferred food choice increased brain activation in the reward-related areas of the brain over the non-food choices.  However, what I found interesting and had not heard previously was that the brain areas activated are similar to those activated when cues of addictive substances, such as alcohol, were given.  

In fact, in lean individuals the area of the brain most affected by these food odors is the area responsible for body homeostasis (happy medium), whereas in obese individuals the area most affected controls long-term memory.  

Does that mean that we as obese people form memories around food, so strong that they are causing responses comparative to drug usage, and that the mere odors of such foods can elicit memories and create EMOTIONS?  Just like the scent of your mothers' perfume makes you think fondly of her reading to you as a child...


Many of us talk about being food addicts, and I know I am one.  So then logically speaking being obese means we have actual brain response that makes it harder to break the bonds between foods and memories.  

But if the stimulated area of the brain is the same for drugs AND food cues, then wouldn't it also be logical to think that we would go into similar physiological withdrawal as powerful as DTs when dieting as drug/alcohol addicts who go through rehab?  


Anyone else ready to sign up for a Haldol drip?  Someone on their blog the other day stated indignation that obesity is not considered a coverable medical expense like other addictions, but I think if the results continue stacking up there will be no way the medical and insurance industries can deny the chemical dependence induced by food any longer. 


Until then, I guess we all have our workouts and salads at least! ;-)



23 comments:

Auntie Mandy said...

That makes total sense because whenever I have a food that I haven't had for a long time, not only do I crave even more of it (like a cigarette!) but the effect is really painful!

Stacy said...

I can totally believe it's an addiction. It's worse than alcohol or drugs though because you HAVE to eat to live. It's not like you can just do the "out of sight" thing with food. You still have to eat.

Need to Get ME Back said...

Great post! I wonder if the food odor triggers emotion in obese people because obese people tend to turn to food to pacify their emotions. I know the 2 have always gone hand in hand for me. I love that there is scientific evidence to back it up. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for your heartfelt comment yesterday :)

The Fat Mom said...

So interesting!

I try and avoid the food courts. The last time I was in one I almost body slammed the little Chinese guy for asking if I wanted a sample of his meat.

Baby Weight and Beyond said...

I hate the food court - I could have had a huge meal and it will still make me hungry!

Trisha said...

Food courts are SO dangerous for me. Hahahaha. This is such an interesting post!! Crazy to think of what smells really do to us.

Shabby Chic Mom- Susie said...

Gosh, I can't even remember the last time we went to the mall hmmmm.
but the smell of cookies, realtors bake them to help sell a house on open house day.

Twix said...

Good point and post.

Think about all the fast food commercials or even food commercials or what about those mountain dew commercials. Yes they are trying to sell food. But how are they really marketing it? Emotions. One example - Come here eat this, I'm lovin it. Look at the way they are marketing it. It's all about the supposed emotional experience you'll have if you consume their product. Woohoo I'm skydiving I drink dew. Disgusting...


They couldn't actually sell their product if they were honest about it. Think about it.

This product (brand name) has loads of fat to help make you feel full. Lots of salt to make you super thirsty. Have some of this to quench your thirst it has lots of sugar to make you want more. This has lots of bromide that will disrupt normal body functioning. We know you want it. Come and get it.
Do you think we would go get it if they were selling the truth?

Stephanie said...

I stay away from all food courts as much as possible because I just can't handle the temptation. All those smells combined in one place is too much for my willpower to manage. LOL

Beth said...

Yes, I'd agree with the idea of food addiction and there are triggers everywhere... it sucks.

Haldol? Yes, please, lol. Food withdrawal sucks.

Thankfully there are no food courts in this part of London. I order my groceries online in order to stave off the impulse binge food buying. I do what I have to I guess to try not to kill myself with the fatz.

Karla said...

The smell of that Cinnabon place can bring me to my knee's .... I actually walk around it in the mall. Food courts, not so much. Maybe because I have done some time in the food prep industry, and so did my children... smelly work clothes, so some of those smells gross me out

Ann said...

That's really interesting information. I guess although it provides insight into the disease of obesity, I am more interested in what we wil DO with the information, ya know?

Ginger aka Gidget said...

Those damn food courts and the chinese places that always want to give you a free sample. Learning to say "no" to those was the first step of 12. No kidding.

And yes - I think food is very strongly tied to memory for me. Especially when I think of foods while growing up with my family, etc.

Big White Granny Panties said...

I love research, Polar. LOVE that study. I think that the pairing of food plus emotions is a powerful thing. Old memories and old learning is the hardest to break. Being an undiagnosed asthmatic, I never sought playing vigorously, running about, sports, and so on, as something that was helpful, pleasant or a coping skill. That is because when I did those things, I felt like I was going to die. This is why, I think, my personal nirvana is reading a cozy english mystery and eating something warm and creamy.

Love your posts. xoxoxo

Leslie said...

Very interesting study, and not really surprising. True addiction is biologically mediated which is what makes it so hard to treat. As a recovering alcoholic and wannabe recovering food addict, I know darn well that my main addictive foods light me up just like booze used to do. It does make it harder to find recovery, but it's absolutely possible. Thanks for this post!

Mrs. D said...

Can't say I'm surprised at all! I know I'm another addict, but more in control now after avoiding them for over 2 months. I can now take my son to McD's on occasion and be happy with my salad. Doesn't mean I still don't want fries, but I'm in control there now. Muddy's.. well, still can't bring those home!

fatgirlwearingthin said...

There's no doubt that I tie in food with memories. My dad worked in a bakery and to this day, the only candles, lotions, scents I like are ones that smell like baked goods. Forget the flowery smells. It's a sensory comfort for me.

Sarah said...

Nice post! I also hate the food court. I can't go anywhere near it or I want to eat everything!!

Sarah
notaneffingdiet.blogspot.com

Michele said...

Well and just think of all the money that the diet industry makes because obesity is not a covered medical expense fro addiction.

Thanks, too, for your comments about my before and "during" pics. I never had anyone say i was "scrawny," so that is a compliment!

Bethanny said...

Ok so the Food Court actually did not bother me today! I wanted to shimmy past it to get my shop on. *Progress*.

weightingfor50 said...

Excellent post! Scent is seriously powerful isn't it???

Patrick said...

Snot Rules! Ok, it doesn't, I just wanted to type that out just to give it a chance.

You asked about how to upoad a video to Josie. I beliebve most people are uploading their videos to youtube and then sending her the link to that specific video via email. Thats what I did. Do you have a youtube account? Josie's email address is...
josie AT yumyucky DOT com

If you dont have or want a youtube account, email josie and ask if she will take your video attached to an email.

Have fun & keep on Plank'n :-)

Crazy Fat Girl said...

Wow, that is pretty incredible. I have always resisted that word addict. I'll admit to being an emotional eater or overeater or even binge eater. food smells certainly do illicit an emotional response for me. very thought provoking. great post