Processed foods are consumed a lot in the US. A team of researchers found that in 2009-2010, the average American consumed 57.9% of their calories each day from ready-to-eat foods high in sugar, salt, fat and other additives.
Factors such as low cost, marketing and advertising are the launchpads that make these dishes popular. In addition, processed foods are also addictive – a mechanism that is being investigated by scientists. Regarding this issue, two reports by Ashley Gearhardt and Johannes Hebebrand in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have given mixed views.
When studying the behavior of 500 people towards food, Professor Gearhardt, of the University of Michigan’s department of psychology, found that certain foods can trigger “addiction” in people, leading to manifestations such as loss of control. control, craving and overeating even though they are aware of their harmful effects. Topping the list are pizza, chocolate, bimbim, chips, cookies, ice cream and cheese burger. They all have many additives that contribute to the irresistible deliciousness of the product.
In another study, Prof. Gearhardt showed that when people cut back on processed foods, they experienced the same behaviors as a smoker, such as irritability, fatigue, boredom, and cravings. She has seen patients struggling, trying to control their consumption. They tried many ways, but it only took a while to return to the old habits.
However, Professor Hebebrand, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, opposes the idea that food has the potential to be addictive. He argues that while chips or pizza are irresistible to some, they don’t alter the state of mind like drugs do. Smoking, drinking or using drugs provides an immediate form of pleasure that food cannot.
“No matter what drug you use, you will see changes in your mind and emotions – a sign that the substance is affecting the central nervous system. Meanwhile, everyone has eaten processed food. without having this condition because there is no substance that affects the brain directly,” Hebebrand said.
When a person is dependent on drugs such as nicotine or ethanol, they often use them to relieve sadness and negative emotions. But in ready-to-eat foods, there are no ingredients listed as addictive, according to Professor Hebebrand. In fact, there is evidence that overeaters tend to consume a variety of foods with different textures and flavors. Hebebrand believes that the food industry’s constant release of new products, creating attractive options is part of the cause of incontinence.
Advocates of food addiction point out that most people still eat processed food without showing any signs of overindulgence. But according to Ms. Gearhardt, not all drugs can manipulate people. Many studies show that the ability to become addicted or not depends on many factors such as genetics, family, psychological trauma, socio-economic background and environment.
If you find ready-to-eat foods hard to give up, Gearhardt recommends listing the foods that make you crave crazy, keeping them out of sight and stocking up on healthier foods. At the same time, you should pay attention to factors that stimulate appetite. It could be feeling stressed, depressed, lonely, or the bakery on the way home.
Make plans to control them like choosing a different path, participating in activities to relieve stress and banish sadness. In addition, you should not skip meals because hunger easily makes you eat more. “Regularly getting plenty of nutrients, limiting processed foods is important, helping you stay on track in a world with too many eating options,” said Professor Gearhardt.