Why are these 5 foods so addictive?
Try as we might to resist, there are certain foods that trigger feelings of pure longing and one bite is never enough. These addictive tastes and textures are seldom healthy – so what’s going on? Discover the truth about your body’s reaction to the most addictive foods on the planet.
A double whammy of fat and carbs, pizza was found to be the most addictive of all foods in a recent study from Michigan University. The high carb levels produce a mild ‘high’, caused by the release of dopamine, while mozarella cheese contains both high levels of stress-satiating fat, and caseins, opiate-like substances that promote a feeling of calm and happiness.
Possibly one of the most addictive substances known to man, chocolate melts at body temperature, making it supremely easy to eat, and it also releases serotonin into the brain. This chemical acts on brain cells that relate to mood, behaviour and desire – so it’s an instant happiness booster. There is a suggested hormonal link, too, as serotonin levels can drop during PMS and as a result of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
How many times have you intended to eat just one or two Pringles/Walkers/Kettle Chips, and suddenly found the packet’s empty? That’s down to what scientists call the ‘bliss point’. This is a perfect ratio of three key substances – fat, sugar and salt. Together, they trigger all of the taste buds, and the brain’s pleasure receptors, in a triple threat. Processed food manufacturers create their formulas based on this equation, to put consumers in the ideal state – one where you can keep eating without ever feeling quite satisfied enough. Cunning.
4 Biscuits and cakes
The ‘sweet spot’ combination of fat and sugar, combined with a melting texture, means that blood sugar levels rise fast, which is why when you’re tired, a biscuit seems way more appealing than an apple. The pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream, which converts the sugar to energy, and promotes fat storage. Studies have found that rats fed sugar become deeply stressed when it’s taken away from them – suggesting that it sets up a feedback loop of cravings for the energy high it creates.
You’re just going to slice off a tiny sliver. And a little bit more. And maybe another…
But you can’t be blamed, because cheese contains the same substances as serious narcotics. Its key protein, casein, disperses during digestion and releases opiates called casomorphins. These then interact with the brain’s opoid receptors, which control feelings of pain, addiction and reward. Which is why you just can’t stop at one slice.
Give it up… If you want to break your addiction, expect withdrawal symptoms- particularly from carbs and sugar. It’s only processed food that sets up the addiction cycle, due to the sneaky ‘bliss point’ blends – so try to cut heavily manufactured food from your diet and eat as naturally as possible. Nobody ever craved a bag of nuts, or a banana, to the point of distraction, but they will fill the hole while you wean yourself off the hard stuff.