It’s like a lot of things. The more you have, the more you enjoy, the more you want. Many people rely on food in the same ways people rely on drugs. Drug addiction and food addiction are similar in scope, if you consider that our relationship with food can be life-altering and even fatal. Too many people call food their “drug of choice.”
This fact in itself isn’t news. We are an addicted nation, which was the premise for a recent study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Columbia University’s New York Obesity Research Center, who compiled a list of foods deemed addictive.
We’ve already been beaten over the head with information about the addictive properties of sugar and how it can build up in your body and cause any number of diseases like cancer, diabetes and candida, a condition that incorporates a great many illnesses that leave you in a physically and mentally compromised state.
But knowing such things is often irrelevant when it comes to that moment when you must have something sweet and nothing else will do. You may have one and one isn’t enough, so you have another. And that leads to several more and you have to make a conscious effort to stop.
You may try to tell yourself to: Put the cookie down. Step away from the fridge. Turn away from the dessert cart.
Sometimes, when you tune into the awareness that you’re doing something bad for you, your willpower seems like it’s on vacation or quite possibly gone forever never to be heard from again. That is addiction. And it’s no joke.
It doesn’t help that the American culture, where food is plentiful, it’s not only meant to nourish us, but rather has become a form of entertainment, and at its worst, a sport. Hence, the Food Network and the entire mega-million-dollar food industry built on the concepts of appetite, hunger, cravings, and selling food as a path to joy, and maybe even enlightenment.
Or how about people who call themselves “foodies?” Food can be a career or a hobby. It’s also a passion, a daily event, a means of celebration, a form of self-punishment for some, and most certainly an addiction.
The survey of 120 undergrads and 400 adults using the Yale Food Addiction Scale determined the following list of irresistible foods that fall under the category of “addictive.” The top-10 were processed foods, created for the very purpose of being delicious and addictive enough to drive revenue with the use of fat and refined carbs, such as sugar and white flour.
This list, recently reported on CNN, is not likely to astonish you, but it may make you think twice before you open up and insert one of the following foods we often consider treats.
- Ice cream
- French fries
- Non-Diet soda
In other cultures, food is still just a form of nourishment, likely because there are too many people who aren’t fortunate enough to get their hands on it.
It makes me wonder what that really means about the statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness: Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experience mental illness in a given year.
Researchers at the Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom blame our modern diet for upsetting the balance in our systems that lead to mental illness. Not eating enough whole, fresh foods and replacing them with processed food-like products means we’re more prone to depression, anxiety and mental disorders in general.