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Why Do We Get Addicted To Junk Food?

Has anything like this ever happened to you? You are busy or just bored and you know the kitchen is in front of you. Not even hungry, but in need of some kind of boost. You decide to wait, make an effort and remember your 2018 resolutions. On your mind, the idea of tasting that cookie in the box, second shelf on the right, starts to be repeated. You think once and again the ways you would enjoy having one single bite. Done, just one little bit... Who would have guessed you end up eating the entire box.

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Don’t feel so guilty, it isn’t really your fault since the majority of processed foods, which our society loves so much for its practicality and portability, are actually created to be addictive.

This is achieved through masterful uses of addictive ingredients such as salt, fat, sugar and a wide variety of own flavorings which cause an alteration in the reward system of the brain similar to that produced by drugs (according to the results of a research conducted with rats for three years) and that leads to many compulsive overeating habits such as obesity and the appearance of other type II diabetes.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

The New York Times published in its article The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (The extraordinary science behind the junk food addiction) how it is that multinational food companies struggle to maintain their "profits" in the face of growing evidence that their food is causing health crisis. However, these chains have advanced science on their side: using food engineering, they create products that generate addiction in the body through complex processes.

The five points on addictive unhealthy food

In "The junk food jargon", Paul McFedries analyzes the language used by the junk food industry to shape products that keep consumers in a state of physiological addiction thanks to the science behind their preparation. He explains, there are mainly five points on addictive unhealthy food:

As a first point he explains pillars ingredients which he defines as the balance between three ingredients that, together, create that feeling of "food that makes you feel good". These are fats, sugars and salt.

He also talks about the “Bliss Point" as the desire we develop for the ingredients pillars in the particular is enhanced when they are mixed in something called "bliss point", which could be translated as the optimal mixture of these three ingredients so that we get hooked of.

Mouthfeel sensation is described as the third point as the way food feels inside a person's mouth; By adjusting variables such as texture, humidity, crunchiness or melting, it is possible to produce food that behaves just as the consumer wants.

Another of the key factors is flavor hit, which is the ability to manipulate the size and shape of the salt crystals in fast food, so that a flavor stroke occurs that takes the taste buds by assault until saturating them in an instant.

Lastly, he explains the importance of the dispersion of caloric density as the mother of all the science behind fast food is calorie density dispersion, which is nothing more than the process by which food melts in the mouth so quickly that the brain believes that it is consuming fewer calories than that really go into the body.

It allows the brain to believe that it is still not satisfied, so that the person continues to eat even though he does not need so many calories to eat, because his brain is unable to make the person stop eating. This generates as a response the danger of eating automatically, that is, continue eating without thinking about what you eat, and even without being hungry: eat because the food tells you to keep eating it.

… So the next time you feel bad about falling into the clutches of these foods, first know the reason, realize that it is not your weakness alone that makes you act like this, but the large processed food industry that is manipulating your desire, with this, you will feel a greater rejection and you will feel "desire to rebel" before them and choose a fruit or vegetable better to satisfy your hunger or craving.

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