Addictive foods: why you can’t stop eating them

Addictive foods: why you can't stop eating them


There are foods that are hard to resist. The temptation to continue eating them, even in considerable quantities and without stopping, becomes impossible to manage. And it is not a question of a mental addiction , therefore of willpower , but of chemical and organic characteristics that determine the strong dependence on these foods.

The most common examples, belonging to the category of “foods designed to be addictive”, are pizza , ice cream , french fries and fast food .

From a nutritional point of view, these are foods defined as “doping” because it is precisely difficult to desist from their consumption. They generally contain large percentages of salt , sugar and fat , often together.

Many of these foods, in fact, are both sweet and savory. Why do we continue to eat these foods, often in an uncontrolled way, even if we are well aware of the unhealthiness for the body? Because they are a comfort, and they act gratifyingly.

Addictive foods

  • Pizza
  • Hamburger
  • French fries and in bag
  • Fried chicken
  • Biscuits and Sweets
  • Ice-cream
  • Gummy candies
  • Chocolate

What is Food Addiction?

We hear more and more often about comfort food. Term widely used today also in Italy, to define those foods that are able to comfort, pamper, satisfy. Not only on the palate , but also on an emotional level. It is not for nothing that “comforting” and at the same time addictive foods are consumed more when one is in conditions of stress or dissatisfaction. The need to eat, and to satisfy the palate, in this case, translates to the psychological, triggering a real addiction . In summary, this is what is defined as a food addiction, which consists in compulsively eating certain foods.

Pizza: ingredients are addictive

Pizza is one of the most addictive foods. We are not talking about healthy products, with raw materials selected and prepared by the leavening pizza maker, but about packaged and industrial products, where the presence of quality ingredients is almost non-existent. Industrial ready-made pizzas often contain ultra-refined flours , additives that force leavening and preservatives .

Better to opt for artisanal pizza prepared with wholemeal flour and durum wheat , therefore with lower glycemic indexes , mother yeast and fresh and genuine toppings .

Dark chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most addictive foods ever.

The higher the sugar, fat and powdered milk content , the greater the doping power and the lower the health benefits that, for example, dark chocolate boasts , rich in antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress . The ideal is to consume dark chocolate, with cocoa content exceeding 70%, in small daily doses of a maximum of a couple of squares, as recommended by nutrition experts.

Cookies and breakfast cereals

Even breakfast , if prepared with packaged and industrial products, can prove to be a particularly insidious meal. Think, for example, of biscuits, rich in preservatives, sugar, salt, additives and fats. One leads to another and, moreover, their consumption takes place very quickly and therefore we tend to overeat.

Better to prepare them at home, or check the ingredients on the label very carefully . Similarly breakfast cereals contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat. In this case it is better to prefer natural raw cereal flakes and mix them at home, with the addition of dried fruit , seeds and fresh fruit to create a healthy  muesli .

It’s all about dopamine

Dopamine  is a neurotransmitter of the catecholamine family , which exerts a control function on: movement, the so-called working memory, the sensation of pleasure, reward, prolactin production, sleep regulation mechanisms , some cognitive faculties and the attention span. In the human body , the production of dopamine is mainly due to the so-called neurons of the dopaminergic area and, to a lesser extent, to the medullary portion of the adrenal glands (or adrenal glands).

When foods are rich in sugars and fats and, especially if the ingredients are a mix of them, they become just like real drugs, due to the brain reactions they exert, i.e. excessive stimulation of the brain region regulated by dopamine . If pleasure is solicited for a long time, by repeatedly eating these foods, the body continuously requires them and addiction is determined.

French fries

Salt and fat. Mainly responsible for french fries addiction. The rest is an almost non-existent nutritional framework: foods without great nutritional values ​​and which, despite being eaten in quantity, are not even filling.

Better to prepare them at home, with good oil for frying, with a little salt but aromatic herbs , and perhaps, even better, in the oven.

Ice Cream and Sweets

Ice cream is another addictive food, although healthy alternatives do exist. The packaged, and therefore industrial, one is mostly produced with fats and sugars in very high percentages. By choosing an artisanal product, prepared with quality ingredients, and consuming it instead of a meal, and not as a dessert, the damage caused by addiction is limited.

Similarly, cakes and snacks represent a notable pitfall for the temptation of adults and children. The simultaneous presence of salt, sugar and fat is harmful. In this case it is better to limit industrial sweets and make them at home, reducing butter and sugars, thus also lowering glycemic levels .

Fast food food

It’s called junk food , or junk food, and is often associated with that served in fast food restaurants: eating quickly, often of poor quality, fried and over-seasoned with salt, sauces, and therefore rich in saturated fat and salt.

In this case, the health risks of excessive and continued consumption of foods of this kind are more concrete than ever and have to do with colorectal cancer , obesity, type 2 diabetes , renal failure , hypercholesterolemia , and heart problems. Better to cook a healthy hamburger at home, limiting the fillings (perhaps not adding bacon or cheddar in quantity, but preferring fresh ingredients such as vegetables ).

The same addiction is also created by fried chicken nuggets or wings: the crunchy and tasty breading (thanks to the abundant use of salt and spice mixtures) accompanied by sauces of all kinds. Also in this case, it is better to opt for homemade breadcrumbs and fried foods, no more than twice a month, as experts suggest, or, even better, cook the chicken in the oven.



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