By now, most have heard of the horrors of processed food. The nutrient-depleted remnants of what was once a healthy food source wreak havoc on the body. Our cells need an abundance of fresh, colorful foods in order to maintain healthy balance; this doesn’t mean something that will live on a shelf covered in preservatives for six months to a year! Some foods are so chemically altered that our bodies literally become addicted to the additives. What’s scarier is that 60% of food purchased today is processed: “…food companies pay big bucks for scientists to engineer the taste, feel, smell and even the sound of these products in ways that trigger our neurological pleasure centers” (Smith, 2015). Here are the top five addictive culprits on grocery store shelves today.
Coming in at #5 is the Doritos brand flavored chips. They contain an abundance of MSG, which due to its salt content, increases hunger. The chemical flavoring and colors are shown to physically create cravings for more. The 4th most addictive product is the Cheetos brand crisps. Scientists have shown through testing that as the crisp “melts” on the tongue, the brain does not register that a food-like product is being eaten; hence, a lack of satiety means the hand goes back into the bag for more. And there’s nothing worse than empty calories. Through brain scan testing on rats, the 3rd item on the list, Oreo cookies, proves to be “more addictive than both cocaine and morphine” (Yahoo! Health, 2015), lighting up the brain like a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Coming in at 2nd place is the highly marketed, “fun” round shaped M&Ms. The psychology behind the round shape was ingeniously utilized by the makers of M&Ms, as it has a high correlation to causing the mind to crave the small, round sweets, which the brain then believes is more satisfying. Clever, eh? And finally, coming in at first place, are deep fried French Fries. University of Michigan “…researchers found that because of their combination of fat and starch content, and their highly processed nature” (Yahoo! Health, 2015) it is the #1 cause of addictive eating traits. So know that you know what to avoid at all cost, you may be asking yourself how to break the habit. Here are a few healthy alternatives to take the place of fat and sugar-laden foods.
Instead of a handful of Doritos or Cheetos, opt for healthier choices like Beanitos Nacho Cheese white bean chips and Blue Diamond natural almond nut thins with cheddar. These supply an MSG-free crunch that include fiber and protein for satiety. Nothin’ But Chocolate coconut-almond granola cookies can substitute for the highly addictive Oreo, and are made with healthy ingredients: almonds, oats, cocoa, coconut, cane sugar, spices and espresso powder. Move toward Endangered Species Natural dark chocolate with 88% cacao in place of M&Ms. The dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health, but because it melts slowly, is much less addicting. Finally, homemade French fries made with fresh potato wedges, coconut oil spray, and herbs baked at 350 degrees until crispy are a healthy option in place of store-bought or fast-food purchased fries. (Smith, 2015) There are always healthy, fun ways to eat foods that don’t leave one feeling full, heavy or craving more. Look for more ideas on the web and in clean eating magazines and recipe books.
Contributed by Terri Caunt R.N., B.S.N.
Smith, D. L. (2015). Eat This! Supermarkets. Retrieved June 6, 2015, from www.eatthis.com: www.eatthis.com/8-most-addictive-foods-in-world
Yahoo! Health. (2015, April 9). Retrieved June 23, 2015, from Yahoo!: https://www.yahoo.com/health/5-most-addictive-foods-in-the-world-115949100348.html