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Is Junk Food Addicting?

is junk food addictive

When you eat a Cheez-It, Oreo cookie, or kettle corn, do you feel compelled to continue eating?  Do you experience a pleasure that makes your craving to eat more almost uncontrollable?

If so, you’re not alone.  And it’s no coincidence that many of us feel this way.  It’s programmed into our biology to prefer salty, sweet, fatty foods (which helped us survive when we were cavemen) and when we consume these foods frequently, it becomes even harder to stop eating them.

In one of my favorite books, The End of Overeating, David Kessler describes how the food industry purposely creates foods that appeal to our biologically preferred tastes.  The pleasure you experience when you eat chips, cookies, French fries, and other calorie-dense foods is so great that it keeps you coming back for more, which means big profits for the food industry and big waistlines for us.

So is this truly a version of addiction?  More research is needed, but so far it seems like the answer is yes.  Studies have shown that certain foods activate the same areas in our brains that are activated by sex or drugs.  The more we eat sweet, salty, fatty foods, the more our brain responses are altered so that we’re driven to eat them even more.

If you’re the type of person who “can’t stop” when you start eating a particular food – crackers, pizza, ice cream, etc – it’s probably best to avoid that food or at least not keep it in your house.

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