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Junk food on the brain

One of the great pleasures we enjoy is going to a restaurant and letting someone else do the cooking. However, it also results in less healthy eating as you are turning over your choices to someone else. We also gravitate towards the tastier (less nutritious) options because they are readily available to us. Even when we have a list of healthy options specially marked for us in the menu, we still order something sugar-coated, deep-fried and loaded with cholesterol. Why is that?

Our attraction to junk food goes beyond smell and taste.  It also speaks directly to the hormones in our digestive tract.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

According to research, stress plays a big role in it. This isn’t the standard idea that when we are stressed, we seek comfort food. This is more about how we feel the need to eat more during times of stress because our bodies ramp up for fight or flight response. Stress studies showed rats will eat more and prefer high-carb options when they are stressed out as well. So it’s not just a human tendency to go for the junk food. There is something that is hard wired into the brains of mammals that makes less healthy options appealing.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows our connection to junk food does not rely solely on memory and taste, but also has a link to hormones connected to the digestive tract. In this study, the element of taste and smell was removed as the food was dispensed through a stomach tube. Subjects reported feeling more content upon receiving foods with higher fat content. This means your stomach is communicating with your brain directly, sending the message of “more junk food, please”.

Of course, one of the biggest components to unhealthy eating is shortage of time. When you are in a rush, you just want to grab something that is ready to go, which leaves fast food as our primary options. However, with a little research, you can find independent places that offer better alternatives. Fortunately, we have some healthy options in the Burbank area. Healthy Bites on Magnolia Blvd. offers Greek and Mediterranean options, including gluten-free dishes. Nature’s Pantry located on Riverside drive has your standard sandwiches and salads, but also offers Korean options and has a wide arrange of vegetarian selections.

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