WRITTEN BY: ERIK HUSTON
What is your favorite food? Is it pizza or cookies – if it’s anything made in a factory you’re likely in for a treat. Scientific reports have found that processed foods can be as addictive as narcotics.
The University of Michigan’s psychologists, Erica Schulte and Ashley Gearhardt along with Columbia University’s Neuroscientist, Nicole Avena have discovered something that might tame your appetite. Their report explains that “highly processed foods … may share characteristics with drugs of abuse (e.g., high dose, rapid rate of absorption) … [and] appear to be particularly associated with ‘food addiction.’”
The researchers listed the foods which had the highest addiction rate. Top of the list: chocolate, followed closely by ice cream, then french fries, pizza and cookies. This chart displays the entire list of “problematic foods”:
If you hadn’t noticed, the top 20 have a sinister feature in common – they are all processed. The researchers explain that “due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system,” processed foods are much more addictive than foods in their natural state.
This excerpt further conveys the addictive nature of processed foods:
“Processing appears to be an essential distinguishing factor for whether a food is associated with behavioral indicators of addictive-like eating […] Highly processed foods are altered to be particularly rewarding through the addition of fats and/or refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sugar).”
Another small study conducted by a team of students and their psychology professor, Joseph Schroeder, at the University of Connecticut replicated these same effects in rats.
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”
So the next time you’re hungry, know that the desire to eat that pizza may not be entirely conscious. And when you eat an Oreo or bag of chips, it is often an unconscious impulse.
Because of this, the path to healthy eating often has a myriad of roadblocks. One technique that can help to clear these roadblocks in called The Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT is a psychological acupressure technique that uses finger tapping to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest. While doing this you think about your specific problem, which can include addiction, and employ a series of voice positive affirmations. According to the website: “This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” – the emotional block – from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.”
While people may not see processed foods as a danger compared to drugs such as cocaine or morphine, they could potentially be an even bigger problem for the general public because of their accessibility, affordability and normalization in today’s Western society.
(Main photo by Pete via Flickr)