If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know how hard it is to resist addictive foods. Some of us — like me! — are addicted to sweets, while others constantly crave salty snacks or fatty foods. What are these addictive foods, and why do we crave them so? Keep reading. Here are the most notorious addictive foods, and why we want them all the time.
1. “Bad” Carbs
If you find yourself constantly craving pasta, bread, French fries, smashed potatoes and such, you might have a small “bad” carbs addiction, which sounds strange, but is completely possible. Carbs are one of the most addictive foods, something our bodies crave. When we eat them, our brains react the same way they do to cocaine, and when you scale back on them, you may actually experience slight withdrawal symptoms, like headaches and irritability.
2. Salty Snacks
If you love salty snacks, then chances are, your most addictive foods are crisps and chips, but not to worry. Though most of the addiction factor to salt is mental, it’s not as difficult as other food addictions to break, and you can successfully wean yourself away from it. Cut back slowly, by making conscious snack choices; rather than eating popcorn or chips while watching TV, munch on fresh fruits or veggies.
3. Fatty Foods
We can thank evolution for this one… or rather, slow evolution. From a biological standpoint, our bodies crave fatty foods, because when we were hunters and gatherers, we didn’t know when we’d be getting our next meal. Now, we crave buttery smashed potatoes or a cheeseburger for the fat, which we’re programmed to think tastes so good. Comfort food, anyone?
There’s a reason devoutly religious Mormons shun foods with caffeine. It’s addictive! That’s why people are grumpy without their morning cup of Joe (or tea). Like other addictions, breaking a caffeine habit causes withdrawal symptoms, like headaches and mood swings.
Just like our bodies crave “bad” carbs, they can also crave chocolate, for it, too, causes our brains to release chemicals similar to cocaine. Bear in mind, though, that unlike most food addictions, a slight chocolate addiction isn’t necessarily a bad things — dark chocolate is actually a very good source of antioxidants, and can cut stress — and it can even curb your cravings for salty or sweet or fatty snacks. Fabulous!
Mmm… cakes, cookies, pies… I love sweets! But sweets are another of the addictive food groups, again, for biological and evolutionary reasons. Just like we crave fatty foods, we crave sugar-laden food, the ones that helped us pack on pounds we might need to get us through til our next meal. And like caffeine, sweets can cause physical withdrawal symptoms. Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen a kid coming down from a sugar high?
7. Artificial Sweeteners
This must be heart-breaking for dieters who thought they were doing themselves a favor, switching from regular soda to diet soda. First of all, they don’t work. Studies have shown they actually trick your brain into thinking it’ll get real sugary carbs, so it triggers intense cravings. Second, they’re actually addictive, so you crave them, and when you give in, your body kicks in with the REAL sweets craving… ouch! Double-whammy! If you’re dieting, then, it’s best to avoid soda, especially diet soda!
Even more demanding than my sweet tooth is my… err… cheese tooth? I crave cheese all the time. Apparently, this makes me pretty hard core, because studies have shown that cow’s milk contains tiny amounts of morphine, a powerful opiate. Could that be why I crave it all the time? Perhaps.
Good grief, what’s a girl on a diet to do? It’s not our fault all these foods are so addictive! Why aren’t there any good-for-us foods on this list (aside from dark chocolate)? It’s not fair, but it doesn’t mean we can’t indulge just a little, once in a while. Which of these tasty foods do you crave, and how do you indulge? Do tell!