(Natural News) Substances like alcohol and drugs are often associated with addiction, but certain foods can also cause addictive behavior. According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, foods full of carbs, fat and sugar are often linked to addiction.
Eating habits and addiction
There were two parts to the study, titled “Which Foods May Be Addictive? The Roles of Processing, Fat Content, and Glycemic Load.”
In the first part, researchers tried to figure out what attributes make foods addictive or cause “addictive-like eating behaviors.” Findings showed that refined carbs, processed fats and foods high in added sugars are often linked to this kind of behavior. (Related: Just 2 days of increased sugar intake can harm your gut health, warn researchers.)
The researchers compared food addiction to substance abuse. Water isn’t an addictive substance, but beer, which contains five percent alcohol, may cause some issues. Compared to beer, hard liquor is a more dangerous substance because it may have an alcohol content of up to 75 percent.
The logic also applies to food. Compared to whole foods like fresh produce, the more unnatural fats, refined carbs and added sugars a food contains, the more problematic it can be for you.
For the second part of the study, the researchers examined how fast food is absorbed. The research team compared food to cocaine: Chewing coca leaves probably wouldn’t cause an addiction, but highly refined cocaine, a street drug that kicks in fast, could be addictive.
In that sense, the more processed a food is, the more artificial fats, refined carbs and artificial sugars it contains and the more nutrients have been lost in the process, making it more addictive.
15 Addictive foods you should avoid
The research concluded that there are the most addictive foods that you should avoid if you often find yourself overeating:
- Bread rolls
- Breakfast cereal
- Buttered popcorn
- French fries
- Fried chicken
- Gummy candy
- Ice cream
Certain foods that are not considered to be highly processed also made the list, such as cheese, bacon, eggs, nuts, steak and strawberries.
How to address “addiction-like behavior”
If you are exhibiting “addiction-like behavior,” such as binge-eating even when you are already full, make changes to your eating habits so you don’t struggle with feelings of guilt or physical discomfort.
Follow these tips to manage cravings for unhealthy and sugary foods and break out of an unhealthy cycle.
Consume more protein
Increasing your protein intake can help manage your cravings for processed foods because this nutrient will make you feel full longer. If you’re having trouble getting enough protein, try making a protein shake daily.
Focus on natural protein and good protein-rich foods like cheese, eggs, milk, salmon, steak and tuna.
Try meal planning
Snacking can be avoided if you plan meals ahead of time. Meal planning can also help free up your time since you can cook meals and snacks for the whole week in one go instead of daily.
Preparing meals ahead of time can also help improve your eating habits and limit the times you’re tempted to order fast food or buy junk food while getting groceries. Once you make a meal plan for the next week or so, stick to it.
It may seem strange but sometimes, your body can confuse thirst for hunger.
When you get a craving for chips or some cookies, drink a large glass of water. Wait for at least 10 minutes and if you’re still hungry, enjoy a healthy snack like an apple or a handful of nuts.
Eat on time
If you go for too long without eating, you may be tempted to eat unhealthy snacks.
You can prevent binge-eating by eating a nutritious meal or snack every three to four hours. Remember that waiting too long to eat when you’re busy or distracted can cause stronger hunger when you eat and a greater risk of overeating.
And if your bedtime is more than four hours after you’ve finished dinner, you may feel hungry again. Avoid having late night snacks which can disrupt sleep and try to go to bed earlier whenever you can.
Focus on other things instead of your cravings
It’s hard to think about other things when you’re just thinking about chips or cookies.
Distract yourself by going on a walk or reading a book. Trying different activities that you might enjoy will help you forget your cravings for junk food.
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can also cause strong cravings. According to studies, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight compared to those who get at least eight hours of sleep.
Change your eating habits and avoid addictive foods like chips and soda to improve your overall well-being.
Visit Fresh.news to read up on fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods that you should eat more of.