It’s not just your imagination; your beloved ice cream and chips might be just as addictive as hardcore drugs like cocaine and heroin.
The shockwaves from this study are rippling through the world of nutrition and health. A whopping 14% of adults could already be hooked on these seemingly innocent snacks.
This groundbreaking study was led by the University of Michigan’s Professor Ashley Hearhardt. Using the same criteria applied to diagnosing substance addiction, they found signs of addiction in the way people relate to ultra-processed foods (UFPs). Think uncontrollable cravings, excessive consumption, and continued intake despite knowing the potential health risks.
But what is it about these snacks that makes them so irresistible? The answer could be in the combination of refined carbohydrates and fats commonly found in UFPs. This unique blend seems to set off an extra-strong reaction in our brain’s reward system, making these foods even more addictive than their individual ingredients.
Even with all the research, scientists can’t pinpoint exactly why UFPs have this hold on us. It’s not just one ingredient, like nicotine in tobacco, that’s causing the addiction. Studies have shown that the high levels of sugar and fat in UFPs can make healthier choices seem less appealing, potentially rewiring our brains.
When you munch on these processed delights, you get a quick dopamine rush followed by a sudden crash, trapping you in a cycle of craving, consumption, and regret.
Dr. Chris van Tulleken, the author of ‘Ultra-Processed People,’ believes many people are addicted to UFPs. He even compares trying to quit these snacks today to quitting smoking in the 1960s when people were just starting to realise the dangers of tobacco.
So, what can you do to break free from the clutches of these addictive snacks? Van Tulleken recommends asking yourself a simple question: ‘Is this really food?’ By challenging the nature of these ultra-processed items, you can quickly switch from being addicted to being disgusted. It’s time to regain control of your diet and health by being more mindful of the foods you consume. Your future self will thank you for it.”