Are addictive foods a real problem? The term ‘food addiction’ might be seen as an oxymoron
since eating is necessary for our health and survival. Let’s face it, once you start to chow down on a chocolate bar, it’s hard to stop. And this doesn’t only happen when you are eating a chocolate bar. While eating pizza, I have definitely had the thought, “I have room for 1 more slice…” even though I really didn’t but it just looks soooo good. There just are certain foods that seem more irresistible and have more control over our willpower.
In a nutshell, they are addictive and can have us consuming more than we originally intended. So, what gives? Truth is, this is what is termed as food addiction. Let us start by defining what food addiction is.
*Affiliate links provided for your convenience. Please see full disclosure for more information.
Food Addiction Defined
Food addiction is so often compared to drug addiction. And rightly so, not only because of the hold those certain foods have on us, but because of their effects. Food addiction is the lack of control over the consumption of highly palatable foods such as sugar, salt combined with fat and so forth.
The lack of control is indicated when the eater lacks the ability to stop consuming these addictive foods. In other words, the individual indulges and consumes a large amount of high palatable or hyper-palatable foods.
Why Are They So Addictive?
As previously mentioned, highly palatable foods fall into three categories: sugar, salt and fat. They are what we commonly refer to as junk food. Highly palatable foods have the ability to influence the production of the hormone, dopamine. Dopamine is often referred to as a happy hormone, due to what it does to our emotions. This particular hormone has the ability to cause feelings of reward and pleasure. In other words, this hormone has the ability to bring about euphoric effects.
After you eat these addictive foods, your body releases dopamine. This chemical, which is a neurotransmitter, influences the reward centers in your brain. In other words, it makes you feel good, prompting you to want to consume more. The neurotransmitter has such an influence over the reward centers in the brain, that it overpowers other bodily signals. Due to this, you will keep eating the food, regardless of the fact that you’re full. Food addiction is a real problem, that can lead to serious consequences.
Which Foods are Most Addictive?
Our food environment has changed dramatically over the years, most notably through the introduction of so-called hyper-palatable foods. A hyper-palatable food is a highly processed food that has been engineered to pleasure the consumer and drive him or her to eat more than they initially wanted to, and seek that specific food in the future.These foods surpass the reward properties of traditional foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Food chemists achieve this by suffusing products with increased levels of fat, sugar, flavors, and food additives.
According to Ashley Gearhardt, an Expert from the University of Michigan, you can pinpoint these addictive foods.
Addictive Food List:
- White bread
- Potato chips
- Fried chicken
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Cake just to name a few…
That’s because they’ve been engineered with the right combination of refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar and added fat to deliver a big glycemic load—a rush of blood sugar into your system, which triggers your brain’s reward center and makes you want more. Hence, their influence on our emotions and control.
Signs And Symptoms of Food Addiction
People with an addiction to food often exhibit signs and symptoms. It is imperative that you look out for them, to rule out any possibilities. Let us take a look at some of them.
A Lack of Control
If you find it hard to stop eating once you’ve started, that’s a problem. Marketers rely on this fact to sell more products knowing just how to get your attention and keep that addiction fed. From Lay’s potato chips, “I bet you can’t eat just one” to Cinnabon heating trays of brown sugar and cinnamon in order to keep the smell lingering and lure you and your wallet. You find yourself unable to stay away from certain foods, and completely incapable of control.
It’s a secret
You feel guilty eating certain foods and tend to hide it from your loved ones. Sometimes, when we know we have eaten eaten more than normal, or indulged in something not particularly healthy we don’t necessarily want others to see it. This is could be sign of food addiction.
This is where you overeat to the point that your tummy hurts. And despite that, you may even continue eating whatever junk food you are craving for. This could lead to illness and even, obesity.
Food, especially junk food can influence our sleep pattern. Some tend to spike our blood sugar, making it harder for us to sleep at night. Then later, we crush, causing us to sleep at odd hours.
Please be sure to seek medical help and attention if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms. Professional help can assist you in cutting the addictive foods out of your diet efficiently.
You might also be interested in 12 Way to Remedy Sleep Deprivation
If you experience cravings even after eating a satisfying meal, you could be addicted to a certain foods. Meals with hidden processed sugars, fats and salt can trick our bodies into not recognizing when we’re full, causing ‘rebound hunger’ that can add inches to our waistlines. But there are simple tweaks that can help quiet your cravings for good.
Strategies to stop the cycle
Here are some basic strategies that you can employ to successfully reduce your consumption of hyper-palatable foods and become a healthier (and happier) version of yourself.
Check in with yourself– to see if you are truly hungry? If it is not a ‘meal’ you want then what else is going on? Are you happy, sad, mad or bored? Identifying that there may be no actual hunger is the first step in not giving in to every craving.
Educate yourself- Next time you are grocery shopping take a look at the ingredients and weed out all of the ingredients that are just another name for sugar. There are at least 61 different names for added sugar including common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others. Since you are already looking go ahead and clean up the rest of your diet with the help of this post on CLEAN EATING 101.
Learn your trigger foods- The key to managing trigger foods is to first, know what they are, and then be honest about your relationship with them. If you know eating one potato chip leads to eating 100, choose another course. Assemble a support system for your newfound eating pattern which can go a long way to making this change sustainable.
Prepare ahead- This will put you in position to avoid the “triggers”. Schedule yourself so that you can regularly go to the grocery store or farmers market and buy real food. Also prep your food knowing your schedule so you won’t be caught in a moment of extreme hunger without healthy foods that you can eat.
Stop drinking soda-A study from the University of California at San Francisco indicates that fructose can trick our brains into craving more food, even when we’re full. It works by impeding the body’s ability to use leptin, the “satiation hormone” that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat, researchers say.
Begin a lifestyle journal– Write down when you wake up, how you feel, what you eat and when you eat. This will allow you to see your pattern and put you in position to manage your lifestyle in a better fashion.
These suggestions can lay a foundation to reap the benefits of cutting out these addictive foods.
The Benefits Of Cutting Out Addictive Foods
Loss of Weight
One of the consequences of food addiction is developing obesity. Obesity is generally a state in which your body is overweight. This lifestyle disease has been known to be the major causes of cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes type 2 and certain cancers.
You might also be interested in How to Obliterate Inflammation in the Body and Heal Yourself.
Therefore, it is imperative that you shed off excessive weight. Also, work towards maintaining the proper weight. Cutting out junk food is a great way of achieving this goal.
It may seem hard at first, but the body is highly adaptive. After a while of reintroducing healthier food choices into your diet, your body will get used to it. One step at a time is all it takes.
Lower High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can really affect your life negatively. It is often brought about by the consumption of addictive foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat. These types of food cause the production of fat along the lining of blood vessels. Hence, the development of the disease.
Increase Efficiency and Productivity
Junk food has the ability to raise our blood sugar, leading to a surge of energy. However, when our blood sugar lowers, we tend to feel less energetic and crush. Hence, we become highly depended on them.
Our dependence on them for energy then leads to an increase in cholesterol levels in our bodies. This, in turn, affects our productivity and efficiency, both at work and at home. Moreover, sugar has been shown to influence our cognitive function. Sugar is known to directly impact our ability to remember things, as well as our reasoning capacities. This can lead to an early development of dementia or alzheimers.
Decreases the Chances of Developing heart disease
Foods with high amounts of sugar or fat are extremely dangerous when it comes to heart health. Such factors lead to the development of bad cholesterol and blood fats.The accumulation of blood fats then causes the clogging up of the arteries and blood vessels. This is what cause heart disease. Cutting them out will literally save your life.
Break the Sugar Addiction for good
Research shows that animals that “binge” on excessive amounts of sugar develop symptoms of physical addiction and signs of withdrawal. Why? Dopamine, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, are released during sugar absorption (we’ve all experienced that post-birthday-cake euphoria). The problem is that eating too much sugar shuts down healthy dopamine signaling in your brain. You never know when enough is enough.
And now for the appeal to your vanity: A lifetime of eating too much added sugar can make skin dull and wrinkled. Basically, it breaks down collagen, the springy substance that makes your skin look plump, youthful, and lifted. Also, sugar can weaken the immune system, and a suppressed immune system is bad at fighting off bacteria. Bacteria clogged in pores creates pimples. Sugar also deactivates your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, leaving you more vulnerable to sun damage. In this case, you truly are what you eat.
The food environment has changed drastically. One cause for concern is that foods are now being processed in ways that increase both their reward potency, as well how quickly they get into your system. One surefire way to consume less processed food is to learn more about what you’re really eating. Stock your fridge and pantry with whole foods and ingredients that help your body to function well. Keep these healthy foods on hand, and try to think about it like you’re adding in, rather than taking out. And here’s the best news — your taste buds will actually change over time. Your body will start to crave the healthy, whole foods once you begin to make them your new habit. The junk just won’t taste the same!
Are you addicted to certain foods? Do you think you could remove these addictive foods from your diet? Please comment and share!