Friday, Mar 1, 2024

The addictive power of processed foods

Two common snacks are potato chips and baby carrots. Both are healthy and nutritious and most people won't overindulge in them. The other is full of fats, salt, and starches, which the body then converts into sugar. It can be quite easy to eat a large family-size bag in one go.

According to multiple studies, certain foods are more addictive than others. This is according to a report published in the Annual Review of Nutrition. Highly processed foods are the most popular.

The Yale Food Addiction Scale was developed by researchers using criteria from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders to detect signs of addiction-like eating.

What foods are most likely to trigger this behavior? Sugary drinks, sweets, salty snacks, white flour and rice, and anything high in fat such as hamburgers and pizza.

Recent surveys of addictive eating patterns, published in ONE, found that processed foods were the most harmful. French fries, chocolate, and ice cream are the top three.

These foods are addictive because Big Food designed them to appeal to the part of our brains that forms habits. This is explained by Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Hooked, Food, Free Will, And How the Food Giants Exploit our Addictions.

Their appeal is based on high levels of fats and salts as well as sugars and artificial flavorings. There is some sugar in certain fruits and vegetables like baby carrots. However, there are plenty of fats in meats, eggs, and nuts. However, few foods in nature contain as much fat and sugar as processed food.

Chips also have a distinctive crunch.

Research shows that we eat more if a chip is louder than it is. Chip makers spend a lot of time optimizing the noise level of chips.

According to some research, the noisier a chip is the more we eat. Moss says that chip manufacturers put a lot of effort into maximising the noise of chips.

Hence, why aren’t the baby carrots crunchy addictive?

Researchers have found that high-quality processed foods can cause blood sugar spikes by allowing carbohydrates to rush into the bloodstream. These carbs cause the gut to send signals back to the brain to signal that they are being digested. This triggers a spike in dopamine which is associated with addictive behavior.

Moss claims that whole foods are unlikely to cause spikes and take longer to prepare, which essentially puts a halt to binging.

He explains that addiction is driven by speed. The faster a substance hits our brains, the more likely we are to become seduced." "The slowness of whole foods prevents overeating."

It can be difficult to avoid processed foods. However, there are ways you can regain control of your eating habits. Moss for example, makes all of his meals from scratch.

He has a wider vision. "I hope every school can help kids get excited about real foods by having them experience a garden and by incorporating good food into their curriculum to make it easier for kids to get hooked on blueberries and radishes, rather than Doritos."

The post The Addictive Power of Processed Foods appeared originally on Experience Life.