Have you ever been eating say… French fries, your favorite flavor of ice cream, a package of Oreos or tortilla chips and said (or just thought) OMG I am SO addicted to these… Now think, have you ever been eating baby carrots or a kale salad or cucumbers, and thought the same thing? Yeah. Me neither. Turns out, someone paid researchers at the University of Michigan to confirm what we all know is true. Highly processed and junk foods are more addictive than healthy foods.
Researchers ranked 35 different foods based on how often each was selected to be “problematic” on the addiction scale. The top 10 choices for biggest problem foods were: pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, fries, cheese burgers, regular soda, cake, and cheese. Least addictive foods were cucumbers, which came in last place at number 35, carrots, plain beans, apples, brown rice and broccoli. Interestingly, water came in at number 24. You can see the entire list here.
There’s some speculation that salt, sugar and fat stimulate the pleasure center part of our brain that’s involved with addiction. Manufacturers of fast food and junk food products are well aware of it, and that’s why we keep coming back for more. The lead author of this study noted that “Individuals with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes reported greater problems with highly processed foods, suggesting some may be particularly sensitive to the possible “rewarding” properties of these foods”.
So, yeah – it might not ne quite as easy as “everything in moderation” for some people. Food addiction, like nicotine addiction, might just be a real thing, and I’ll bet one of these days quite a few of us will be wearing a sugar patch. In the mean time, let’s try to eat more whole foods that are free of lots of added salt, fat and sugar. I’ll start with cucumbers.
Do you ever feel like your addicted to certain foods? How do you handle that?