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Is your food eating you up?

If you’re the sort who spends most of your time thinking about what to eat next, then you could be a food addict.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 25, 2010 18:06 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

People often eat processed and refined food when they’re hungry. It satisfies them for a short while, but they soon feel hungry again. If you’re the sort who spends most of your time thinking about what to eat next, then you could be a food addict.

What are the causes?
Due to their fast-paced lives, people often consume sugary foods like cookies, ice cream and chocolates, or salty food like chips or fried farsan to de-stress. Certain food habits that initially provide relief from stressful situations get transformed into strong urges.

CoffeeThese habits bring about biochemical imbalances in the body and when you stop eating such foods, it leads to headache and irritability. The most common food addictions are to coffee, sweets and salt. It is important to understand what these addictions can do to your health.

Caffeine fix
Caffeine is one of the most freely marketed addictive substances in the world. Addiction to it starts early in life. We often start out with hot chocolate and cocoa, move on to colas and other soft drinks, all of which contain caffeine, and then add tea and coffee to our daily diet.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. The amount needed to produce stimulation increases with regular use. As one can easily get addicted to coffee, it’s best to avoid it or stick to 1-2 cups a day (or less than 100 mg).

A sweet diet
The problem with sweet food is that we don’t need them. We eat desserts to pamper our taste buds. Most people who have to eat something sweet after every meal tend not to take their addiction seriously.

Sugar can have an adverse impact on our immune system, and it’s also a cancer feeder. There is a positive correlation between sugar consumption and eight types of cancer. It also causes our body to age more rapidly.

Learning problems in children, ADD (attention deficit disorder) and moodiness have all been linked to a high sugar diet. The reason people don’t take addiction to sugar seriously is because its ill effects surface much later in life.

Excessive consumption of sugar undoubtedly leads to obesity. Overweight children become overweight adults, who are predisposed to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease apart from joint pain and lowered immunity.

Hidden addiction
When it comes to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, people are at least aware that they are harmful habits. But addiction to food usually goes unnoticed until it becomes a threat to health.

Remember the old saying that goes, “It’s not what you eat; it’s what’s eating you.” Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, which has 15 centres in Mumbai and treats obesity and other health-related disorders.