You told yourself you’d have just one bite. But that one bite turned into a whole slice...and then that one slice turned into two slices. Some foods are just that addicting. But, chances are, the foods that you’re addicted to aren’t that good for you. Why is that? And what are these ridiculously addictive foods that are so bad for you?
Famous potato chip slogans that taunt a consumer’s inability to eat just one chip are quite common. If you’ve ever tried eating just one potato chip, you’ve probably found that it’s pretty close to impossible. So what makes potato chips so addicting? The salt. Salt triggers the pleasure center of your brain, and that makes it difficult for you to stop eating. Unfortunately, if you consume too much salt, it throws your body into a tailspin. Usually, excess salt is secreted through your urine but if your kidneys can’t process it fast enough, the excess will be stored in your cells. This can lead to problems like water retention, potassium deficiency and high blood pressure.
Related: How A Low Sodium Diet Can Save You
This other type of tasty tuber is also hard to resist. But when it comes to french fries, it’s the combination of salt and hot potato that makes them tough to put down. Whether they’re baked or deep fried, that hot and fluffy potato contains carbohydrates, which has an effect on the brain’s pleasure center similar to that of cocaine. Fry that potato in oil, coat it in salt and you have an unhealthy, albeit tasty, side dish.
You’ve just sat down to dinner at a nice restaurant and the server brings a complimentary basket of freshly baked bread and butter to the table. You push the basket aside as your will power tells you to just wait until the meal comes. But as the minutes tick by, your stomach tells you to go ahead and have a slice of bread – after all, it will just go to waste if you don’t eat it. But before you know it, half of the bread in the basket is gone.
If refined flour products weren’t so addictive and regularly eaten, there wouldn’t be a problem. As mentioned, carbs have a drug-like effect on the brain. They produce a natural high by causing the body to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for the regulation of the pleasure center in the brain. Foods like pasta and white rice can have a similar effect. Your best bet is to go with whole grain varieties of these products.
Many chocolate lovers call themselves chocoholics, and for good reason: Chocolate is ridiculously addictive. But it’s not so much the taste or texture that has chocolate lovers going cuckoo for cocoa; it’s the fact that it affects the same brain cell receptors as heroin. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that chocolate lovers lost their craving for chocolate when given an injection of naloxone, a drug that is used to treat those who have overdosed on heroin.
If you’ve ever sat down with a pint of Rocky road without eating it all in one sitting, you deserve a pat on the back. Sugar has a similar effect as salt, and when either of those are paired with fat, you’re left with one heck of an addictive food. One of the best examples of that is ice cream, which of course contains both sugar and fat. Pies, cakes and other pastries are all just as bad.
Cheese pizza, cheese fries, cheese nachos and cheeseburgers are just a few of the cheesy foods that people like to indulge in. The reason? Caesin. It’s a substance found in cheese that has been shown to produce opiate-like effects in the brain. Cheese also contains milk, which has been shown to contain trace amounts of morphine. Researchers say that this is to help a child bond to its mother, but it also helps your brain bond to cheese.
You may be thinking of kicking your soda habit, but if you do so, expect to deal with caffeine withdrawal. Symptoms include headaches, depression, insomnia and fatigue and they can begin up to 12 hours after your last sip of soda and last for up to a week. So if you’re thinking of giving up your severe soda habit in order to lose a few pounds or cut back your sugar intake, be prepared for some of these symptoms. Of course, your caffeine addiction may not be limited to soda; coffee, tea and energy drinks all contain high amounts of caffeine as well.
Related: The Dangers Of A Junk Food Addiction
Bacon isn’t just a breakfast food anymore – it can be found on burgers, in ice cream, candy bars and salads to name a few. But why is everyone so obsessed with bacon? Meats in general tend to be addictive because they produce an opiate-like effect on the brain. In fact, researchers have found that opiate-blocking drugs can halt the effects of meat on the brain.
Cookies are just like potato chips – you can’t eat just one. That’s because when sugar hits your tongue, it triggers the release of opiates in the brain. When sugar enters the bloodstream, it raises your blood sugar levels and your pancreas produces more insulin, which converts sugar to energy. This is what gives you that temporary sugar high, but it also sends you crashing down a short time later.
Who can resist a hot, fresh doughnut? But they’re so fluffy and full of air, you end up eating half of the box just to fill yourself up. The problem is doughnuts contain both sugar and fat, like ice cream, so they produce a one-two punch of addiction.
Studies show that certain foods – particularly foods that contain sugar, cheese or meat – contain substances that trigger the same receptors in the brain that are triggered by drugs. Once those receptors are triggered, you begin to crave more and more of that addictive food, and before you know it, you’ve consumed enough servings to feed your whole family.