Food is both necessary for human survival and a significant component of our well-being, as well as a source of pleasure and delight. Food not only supplies necessary nutrition, but it also delivers enjoyment through a variety of flavors, scents, textures, and other factors. Food addiction, on the other hand, can be just as dangerous as drug addiction for many people. Do enjoy our article on addictive foods and their effects on your health.
What is Food Addiction?
A food addiction, often known as an eating disorder, is a type of behavioral addiction characterized by the compulsive ingestion of pleasant (e.g., high fat and sugar) foods that trigger the reward system in humans and other species despite adverse consequences.
Food addicts become reliant on the “pleasant” feelings they get from eating certain foods, which typically fosters a constant urge to eat even when they are not hungry. These actions create a vicious circle. As food addict continues to binge on foods that elicit pleasurable feelings, they frequently overindulge and consume more than is necessary for satisfaction and proper nutrition.
Causes of Food Addiction
Food addiction is most likely the result of multiple elements interacting in the overall cause of this condition. Addiction can develop in either a man or a woman for biological, psychological, or social reasons.
How these factors influence addiction to food
Biological factors that may impact the onset of this eating problem include hormone imbalances, anomalies in certain brain regions, negative effects from certain drugs, and having family members with addiction disorders.
It could also be a result of psychological problems. Emotional or sexual abuse, being a victim or survivor of a traumatic incident, an inability to cope with bad situations healthily, persistent low self-esteem, or enduring bereavement or loss are all factors that may fall into this group.
Such psychological aspects can drive an individual to use food as a coping method to alleviate the negative emotions that may have ensued. Finally, there may be social consequences to food addiction, such as disruptions in family function, peer or societal pressure, social isolation, child abuse, a lack of social support, and stressful life events.
#1 Ice cream
According to Britannica, Ice cream is a frozen dairy product comprised of cream or butterfat, milk, sugar, and flavorings. Eggs can also be found in frozen custard and French-style ice cream. Hundreds of flavors have been developed. Amongst these, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are considered to be the most popular.
What makes ice cream so addictive?
The ingredients that get everyone hooked on ice cream are the real addictive ingredients that give the beverage its addictive property. why do a high number of people eat so much ice cream a day even though the detrimental effects are obvious?
According to a Food consultant featured on CNN health, There are myriad factors that affect the addictive and compelling nature of ice creams. Mr. Young, the food consultant explains that these “factors” are a combination of six variables.
- Visual appeal and appearance
- Temperature, and lastly and most important of all ;
Sugar and butterfat
Special attention must be given to sugar and fat which are amongst the most important ingredients in ice creams.
“The melting [of ice cream] gives an additional sensory experience unlike other types of foods, because you don’t get the same transformation [from other foods],” explained Alina N. Stelick, a scientist who runs sensory tests on ice cream at Cornell University’s Sensory Evaluation Center.
How much ice cream do people eat?
In a report done by Statista.com, they investigated the amount of ice cream individuals(from the united kingdom) of different age groups ate ice cream within the span of 4 years(2008 – 2012). Children aged 4 – 10 years were found to consume the most amount of ice cream with a consumption of 13 grams per day.
Shockingly, in the same study, adults of ages 65 and above consumed about half the amount that children do- with 7 grams per day. It is safe to say that, irrespective of age, the quantity of consumption is very high.
In another study, the typical American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. That’s a lot of calories.
It even resembles other addictions in one important way. According to a new study, the more ice cream we consume, the more we may need to satisfy our appetite.
That’s not all…
The typical American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. That’s a lot of calories. It even resembles other addictions in one important way. According to a new study, the more ice cream we consume, the more we may need to satisfy our appetite.
#2 Potato Chips
If you’ve ever promised yourself you’d limit yourself to just one chip—or even just one handful—and then gone completely beyond, you know how difficult it is to quit eating salty food once you’ve begun. The reason you keep dipping your fingers back into the chip bag isn’t only the deliciousness.
Potato chips are famous for two things: salt and fat. Eating salt has been found in studies to cause the release of dopamine, a chemical messenger that regulates your brain’s pleasure centre. When your brain receives the initial reward hit, it begins to need more.
Why are Potatoe Chips so Addictive?
In one Australian research(via the healthy), 48 participants were given the freedom to eat as much as they wanted over four separate meals. The only difference between the pasta meals was the salt and fat amount. Participants sampled each sauce once over four weeks, and it was either low-fat/low-salt, low-fat/high-salt, high-fat/low-salt, or high-fat/high-salt.
According to the findings published in The Journal of Nutrition, regardless of the amount of fat in the dish, volunteers ate 11% more calories and food when the sauce was particularly salty. Participants ate 60% more calories with a high-fat sauce, but not necessarily any additional food in terms of weight.
Fat usually makes a meal more satisfying, so individuals don’t want to keep eating and eating—especially if they are very sensitive to fat’s flavor.
In a study, Dr. Tony Goldstone, professor of medicine at Imperial College London’s Department of Brain Sciences and author of “Secrets of Our Favorite Snacks”, demonstrated in his study where he showed volunteers pictures of potato chips and junk food, and substance abusers pictures of drugs and booze, and observed their brain scans (via Mashed.com). The same parts of the brain responded to the visual cue in both cases.
Cakes used to be an occasional food taken during celebration periods, but as more and more people know how t bake them at home, the more people eat and get addicted to cake. Cakes like some other foods on this list contain added sugars. Cakes have a lot of sugar because sugar Is a very important ingredient, especially when we get to the icing on the cake.
The sugar used on Cakes can get you addicted 4 times faster than cocaine. sugar is put in the dough, the icing is made up of the fastest absorbed sugar on the planet- Glucose. How do you know you’re addicted to cake?
Have you been waking up late at night to munch on a few slices? Are you at work and all of a sudden, you begin to crave that sweetness from the bite of a cake? Have you unconsciously eaten more cake than you thought you could consume in an instant?
If your answer to this question is Yes, then you may just be addicted to cake, or rather, the sugar in the cake is already working its magic. The inability to halt or control the impulse to consume is another symptom of sugar addiction. Starting with just a couple of biscuits, the sugar junkie may end up devouring the entire packet. They will no longer find joy in a single piece of cake and will need to eat several more to achieve the same dopamine highs.
Cheeseburgers look healthy, after all, it’s a combination of carbs, protein, and “veggies”. They are satisfying, affordable, and easily accessible. This makes them the go-to guy when you need a quick snack that has everything in it. By everything I mean veggies, beef, onions, cheese, and a variety of other “stuff”. Not only that, you can get this over-packed sandwich at fast-food restaurants, and you know why? because you can get it fast.
What makes Cheeseburgers so addictive?
What makes these hamburgers so addictive is not the variety of foods in it, is mostly because of their high sugar, salt, and fat content. A typical McDonald’s dinner comprises 1,428 calories and 64.9 grams of fat (a quarter-pounder with cheese, big fries, and a shake).
According to a surprise new study(via nypost), a cheeseburger and fries might be just as addictive as cigarettes and even heavy narcotics. High levels of fat and sugar in fast and processed meals, according to University of Wisconsin scientists, function in the same manner as nicotine, heroin, and other narcotics do in terms of being habit-forming.
“A high-fat diet affects brain biochemistry in ways that are comparable to those seen with potent opioids like morphine,” said lead researcher Matthew Will in a British television documentary.
Will’s research, which was shown in the documentary “Big Mac Under Attack,” involved feeding a group of lab rats a high-fat diet and discovering that when the fat was removed, the rodents developed withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by a heroin addict denied a fix.
He also discovered that a consistent fat diet affects brain development in such a way that it is very hard for a fast-food “addict” to transition to a healthy diet.
A mouth-watering fresh pizza pie with freshly baked crust, salty tomato sauce, and gooey cheese is a sensory overload. Pizza is one of the few dishes that can keep you satisfied on a regular basis.
According to a recent study, pizza was recently classified as the meal most connected with addiction indications. But what is it about pizza that makes it so popular throughout the world?
“I’m fascinated by the fact that people will eat almost any kind of pizza — not necessarily the ‘best’ pizza — and part of that is the fact that it is the uber selection of ingredients that have fat, sugar and salt, that pleases the amygdala [a set of neurons in the brain] and makes the brain very happy,” said Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum(via CNN).
The delicate appeal of Pizza’s ingredients
According to the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a tool that analyses the diagnostic criteria for substance-use disorders in relation to highly processed foods, pizza was classified as the food most connected with addiction symptoms in recent research(via LSA psychology, university of Michigan)
According to Erica M. Schulte, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan, the psychological response to pizza’s ingredient combinations is attributed to the fact that highly processed foods like pizza, with added amounts of fat, refined carbohydrates, and salt, are most associated with behavioral indicators of addiction, such as loss of control over consumption, cravings, and continued consumption despite negative consequences.
Chocolate is a rich, creamy confection created from fermented, roasted, and pulverized cacao tree fruit. For hundreds of years, people have loved chocolate and other delicacies created from cacao fruit. Today, it’s consumed in a variety of ways and is perhaps one of the most popular meals, so you might question if it’s addictive.
Can you get addicted to Chocolate?
Chocolate, which includes both sugar and fat, is frequently utilized in food addiction research. Researchers at Yale University recruited participants to fill out questionnaires to measure addictive behavior in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The subjects’ brains were then scanned so they could see, smell, and eventually swallow a chocolate milkshake.
When presented with the chocolate milkshake, participants who scored higher on the food addiction scale reported an increase in activity in the area of the brain that governs cravings and rewards.
Meals that are highly processed and heavy in sugar and fat, such as many forms of chocolate, are frequently thought to be more addictive than foods like fruits and vegetables. Cravings for high-carbohydrate meals, such as chocolate can be addictive. They also affect blood sugar and hormone levels in the same manner that other addictive drugs do.
More studies make similar findings
The Yale Food Addiction Scale was created at Yale University to quantify food addiction and determine how addictive various meals are. It’s one of the most widely utilized techniques in the field of food addiction research to date).
Chocolate was consistently regarded as one of the most problematic foods for addictive-like eating behaviors in one study that included more than 500 participants who used this instrument.
Soda is a drink that contains potentially addictive elements such as caffeine and sugar, which makes it very delightful and leads to cravings.
If soda desires become a habit, mental and physical health problems might arise. according to Healthline, soda addiction, also known as soda dependency, can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, dental problems, weaker bones, heart disease, and depression.
Soda also has Caffeine which makes it even more addictive
Soda addiction can develop gradually or suddenly. Your own brain chemistry, as well as your personal and family history of addictive behaviors, are important factors in how addiction develops.
Dopamine, popularly known as the happy hormone, is released when you drink soda, especially caffeinated soda. The more soda you drink, however, the less pleasure you feel from the dopamine reaction, leaving you wanting more. Continued use of soda to maintain the pleasurable dopamine response can develop into addiction.
#8 French Fries
Sorry, potato-lovers! Even though French fries are among the worst things you can consume, the majority of us are still in denial. Our guilty conscience may be well-placed, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(via thehealthy.com).
The study, which followed 4,400 older individuals between the ages of 45 and 79 for eight years, discovered that eating fried potatoes at least twice a week more than doubles our risk of mortality.
Isn’t potatoes full of fiber, why is it unhealthy?
In general, eating potatoes isn’t going to harm you. Instead, it’s the kind of potato that makes all the difference—literally.
The study’s participants were more likely to die if they ate fried potatoes like French fries and hash browns at least twice a week. Non-fried potatoes, such as boiled, baked, and mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were less likely to cause mortality.
#9 Cheese- Food Cravings?
When it comes to cheese, many people claim they can’t live without it, yet many are concerned that it may promote heart disease or weight gain. The fact is that cheese is considered a complete meal. As long as you don’t consume too much of one thing, whole foods are typically healthy.
“So, Cheese is not bad after all” Wait! Hold that thought
Everything tastes better with cheese, even if it already tastes delicious. I know! However, “addiction” is a serious term that should not be treated lightly. It’s a medical disorder that involves intricate connections between your brain, body, environment, and even your heredity, according to the American Society of Addiction Medication.
Addiction appears as a compulsive habit that is difficult to avoid despite the fact that it has negative repercussions. When you stop doing anything addictive, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
That isn’t to say that consuming cheese won’t affect your brain’s reward region, making you want it occasionally. Food cravings, on the other hand, are not the same as addictions. They aren’t even limited to cheese.
#10 Breakfast Cereal
Cold cereals are a quick and easy meal. Many make bold health claims or attempt to promote the current food fad. However, you might ask if these cereals are as healthful as they promise. Breakfast cereal is typically enriched with vitamins and minerals and is manufactured from processed grains. It goes well with milk, yogurt, fruit, and almonds. Puffed, flaked, or shredded breakfast cereals can also be covered in chocolate or frosting before drying.
The deception in Breakfast Cereal marketing
Cereals for breakfast are touted as being nutritious. Breakfast cereals are advertised as healthful, with health claims like “low-fat” and “whole-grain” printed on the boxes. However, processed carbohydrates and sugar are frequently listed as the first component.
These goods are not nutritious since they include only a little proportion of whole grains. However, research suggests that making health claims is an efficient means of convincing people that these items are healthy.
Children are the unsuspecting targets
Children are especially targeted by food makers. To capture children’s attention, businesses employ bright colors, cartoon characters, and action figures. Children, unsurprisingly, connect breakfast cereals with amusement and joy.
This has an impact on taste preferences as well. Some youngsters prefer the flavor of meals with popular cartoon characters on the packaging, according to studies.
Food marketing exposure has even been linked to childhood obesity and other diet-related disorders. These identical items frequently make false health claims.
The items are more tempting to youngsters because of the colors and cartoons, but the health claims make parents feel better about buying such things for their children.
Symptoms of Food Addiction
Numerous indications and symptoms can be used to identify this Eating Disorder. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of food addiction.
- Consuming more food than one’s body can handle.
- Overeating to the point of sickness.
- Making special efforts to procure particular meals.
- Even if you’re not hungry, you keep eating particular things.
- Spending time-consuming particular foods rather than engaging in social interactions, relationships, or functions.
- Due to decreasing efficiency, it is difficult to perform in a vocation or employment.
- Investing a considerable amount of money in the purchase of certain meals for the aim of bingeing
- Chronic weariness and a lack of energy
Should Society be worried about addictive Food?
According to the American Heart Association. In the United States, one out of every three children and teenagers is overweight or obese. Also, up to 20% of adults may suffer from food addiction or exhibit addictive-like eating behavior.
Obesity can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other chronic health issues. Obesity has been shown to reduce life spans.
Food isn’t merely consumed for “fuel” or energy by the majority of humans. The majority of people love eating, particularly their favorite meals. Consuming pleasant meals can fulfill the natural brain reward system, releasing the chemical dopamine, often known as the feel-good brain chemical, to increase overall emotions of contentment and pleasure, according to science. This is beneficial to our survival since we need to eat to live.
Overeating is not the same as drug misuse, but it is also a brain problem. Scientists have discovered that some meals can mislead the brain into desiring more for a rising number of individuals. Pizza, French fries, chocolate, and colas are among the meals that stimulate dopamine production. Continuous overconsumption is a short trip to the hospital or worse- the grave. You can try out our Psychology hacks recommended by psychology experts.