Nutrition is the cornerstone of health. What you put in determines how your health turns out, we all know this.
We also know that copious amounts of calorically dense, processed foods are not good for the health we seek.
This is especially true if weight loss is part of the agenda.
Knowing that junk food is bad for weight loss isn’t enough to stave off the scourge of rampant weight gain and obesity.
We wish it was just a simple case of ignorance, but as we’ve already agreed, most people know what foods are preventing them from optimizing their standard of health.
The real issue is food addiction, and the worst foods for us are also often the most addictive.
But what causes food addiction, and which foods are the most addictive?
Let’s take a look and answer each of those questions.
Food addiction is the real reason for unhealthy food choices.
No person living and breathing would deliberately make a choice that they know is bad for them without either being ignorant of the hazard or having no conscious control over that decision.
The latter is almost always true when it comes to poor nutritional choices. This describes addiction. Doing something with full knowledge that it is harmful but under the influence of strong psychological or mental driving factors.
So why do some foods become addictive?
The first most addictive component of food is sugar, especially refined sugars.
Sugar triggers a serious dopamine release which shoots up the second we even think of sugary food.
This response is evolutionary since sugar is an efficient energy source. But sugar as nature intended vs sugar as industrially processed foods provide is vastly different, with the latter proving to be super addictive and the cause of many metabolic complications including excessive weight gain.
Outer addicting factors in food include MSG, a chemical used to flavor processed snack foods, fats, especially trans fats and sodium.
All of these trigger addiction based on the pleasurable sensation from their taste and dopamine release.
Aside from the actual chemicals in the food causing addiction, food can also inspire cravings due to deeper psychological and emotional attachments.
One example is the idea of comfort food. We often associate certain tastes, smells, and foods with times of comfort such as holidays or celebratory traditions.
Foods that are common during such festivities can trigger cravings due to the positive association.
Another way food can be psychologically addictive is when it is used as a coping mechanism. Stress eating is an example of this.
Conditioned food addiction where certain treats or candy are used as a reward mechanism or deprived as punishment in childhood can also be a cause of addiction.
Whatever the cause, finding the root of food addiction is a necessary step on the journey to a healthier you.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most addictive foods according to the Yale Food Addiction Scale.
Be wary of these foods in your life, recognizing you have a food problem is always the first step.
Right away we are going to deal with pizza.
This food dominates the consciousness of many people due to its near-perfect combination of taste and texture.
The versatility of what can be achieved with pizza means there is a pizza for everyone, even those of you who like yours with pineapple!
It’s not hard to imagine that pizza turns out to be one of the most addictive foods.
It has many ingredients that create an addictive craving such as sodium and fat in abundance. It is also very, very delicious in most cases.
Pizza also has many positive associations as a good time, family-friendly food.
The high quantity of fats, salt, and often processed meats can pose a tremendous health concern as well as the common use of refined flour pizza bases and sauces laden with simple sugars.
Ahh, chocolate! The most romantic food on this list!
Chocolate is addictive, not because love is addictive as many Valentine’s Day commercials would have you think.
It’s addictive because of its neuroactive effects. It triggers the release of feel-good hormones such as endorphins.
This is what makes cocoa addictive.
This effect actually wouldn’t be such a bad thing since raw cocoa is quite healthy. It contains a number of useful antioxidants, and this neuroactive effect can help in reducing stress and anxiety.
The problem comes with chocolate confectionery such as milk chocolate candy. In this form, chocolate is, well, choc-full of refined sugar and trans fats making it totally unhealthy and even more addictive.
Potato chips are a snack time staple.
These crispy snacks have been a part of western food culture for generations.
Their addictiveness comes from 3 key ingredients, fat, sugar and salt.
Today, however, potato chips and similar crunchy snacks have amplified their addictiveness through the inclusion of added MSG or monosodium glutamate.
This chemical is a flavor enhancer with addictive consequences.
While its use is less popular as the public and health sector push for its removal, it is still common in many of the more brazenly unhealthy snack foods.
Chocolate chip cookies take the addictive qualities of two addictive foods and combine them for double the craving potential.
Refined flour cookies, laden with saturated fat and sugar, and sugary milk chocolate.
Aside from this, cookies often have strong psychological anchors that cause addiction.
They are too often used as a reward system for young children which conditions the mind to reinforce them as a positive and desirable outcome from stressful situations.
They also have a holiday and slice-of-life association making them popular comfort food.
Ice cream bust the door of addiction wide open by not only being super sugary and fatty but also having such an extensive variety of flavors as well as providing a refreshing, cooling sensation.
Ice Cream is packed with saturated fats form the dairy component on top of excess refined sugar and a litany of industrial food chemicals in most cases.
What addictive food list would be incomplete without good old soda.
Soda is so addictive due to several factors, chief amongst them is the excess added sugar.
A regular can of Coca Cola is said to contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar!
The bubbly texture of carbonated water, as well as the caffeine content in many types of fizzy beverages, also add to the addiction factor.
There are many other addictive foods to look out for. Things such as french fries, popcorn, fried chicken and doughnuts.
The key here is to recognize addictive patterns.
Are you eating in excess? are you eating past the point of feeling full? Are you eating when not actually hungry?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may have a food addiction, especially if it is with any of the foods on this list, which are addictive by design.