Raseef22 (Lebanon): fast food is addictive like a drug. Why some people can’t resist junk food?

Burgers, pizza, chocolates, chips and more is fast food. It is well known that fast foods, or fast food, it is not useful, because its use causes cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other health problems. In addition, the researchers found a link between junk food consumption and mental illness.

However, if fast food is bad, why do we continue to eat junk food? Outgrowing our passion for healthy in a relationship?

Addiction to fast food

In the 1960s, the company Lay’s has released advertisement of potato chips slogan “Bet you can’t eat just one”, which aroused the curiosity of the scientific community. Many researchers tried to explain the relationship between fast food and addiction.

Preliminary results of the study confirm the existence of food addiction in people accustomed to eat junk food. It was discovered that people who try to refrain from using harmful products, are experiencing the same symptoms as those who are trying to stay away from drugs. In the language of science this is called withdrawal syndrome. It causes mood swings, strong cravings to resume the use of harmful products, stress, headache and sleep disturbance.

So it became clear that fast food is causing an “uncontrolled chaos” in the human body, just as drugs affect the internal organs.


Experts from the Medical school of the University of Minnesota conducted a study involving 600 people, it regularly visiting fast food restaurants. More than half of them reported eating fast food at least three times a week. Within a year after each trip to the fast food restaurant they were supposed to note the reason which prompted them to eat junk food.

In the study the most frequent reasons for visiting fast food establishments were the following: it’s fast (92,3%), the restaurant is located close (80%), food (69%), lack of time to cook (53%). In addition, people chose fast food because eating junk food is an opportunity to have fun and spend time with loved ones.

Summarizing the results of this survey, we can conclude that some people think fast food is a suitable option because it is quick and accessible, and others, because fast food is an excuse to have fun and chat with family and friends, that is debatable.

A renowned expert in the field of food Steven Witherly the last 20 years studying what makes certain products more attractive and tasty.

In their study, “Why people like junk food?” he said that there are two factors due to which we get a special pleasure from junk food.

First — the feeling from eating the food. What it taste (salty, sweet, sour), what her fragrance and texture. These feelings (orosensation) are of paramount importance. Food companies spend millions of dollars to discover the most attractive level of “crunch” in potato chips. Moreover, scientists have researched the ideal amount of bubbles in soda.

Second — the actual quantity of nutrients contained in the product: how it contains proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

In the case of fast food and other varieties of junk food manufacturers are looking for the perfect combination of salt, sugar and fat that excites our brain and made us go back to this product again and again. Nutrition specialist Amanda Shaalan in an interview Raseef22 reported that some foods contain hidden sugar in addition to sodium glutamate, which is added to food to improve the taste, but the effect of these additives is harmful to health.

As humanity has any craving for unhealthy food?

For hundreds of thousands of years people have been hunting and digging for food in the wild, in that time, as the human brain evolved and have become dependent on salt, sugar and fat. He became to focus on high-calorie foods that were rare in the days of our ancestors.

Today, despite the fact that we live in a world where there is no shortage of fatty foods, the human brain still treat food like it’s enough. It makes us want to eat fast food. Recall that the pleasure centers in the brain has not changed for 50 thousand years, so the modern food industry relies on the activation of the instincts of the stone age.

Scientists and food manufacturers use a variety of tricks to make food more attractive.

The dynamic contrast. It is the combination of different sensations in one product. For example, crispy shell and tender filling.

As explained by Stephen Witherly, foods and dishes with dynamic contrast are characterized in that they combine different flavors and textures. A good example is the pizza with soft cheese melted on a crispy dough. This rule applies to a wide range of products, which our brain is difficult to resist.

“The saliva”. Salivation is directly related to taste sensations. So, the more saliva is produced during meals, the more involved the taste buds. Such ingredients as butter, chocolate, ice cream, dressings and mayonnaise, increase saliva, stimulate the taste buds, and this is one reason why so many people love a variety of sauces.

As a result, the dishes and foods that cause salivation, send special signals to the brain and seem more delicious than others.

Melting in your mouth. The food that instantly “disappears” or “melts” in your mouth, sends our brain the signal that we eat less than actually. In other words, the brain believes that we are not sated, though, and used a lot of calories. As a result, we tend to overeat.

In his book “Salt, sugar and fat,” Michael moss described the problem of the “disappearance” of calories, recounting a conversation with Steven Witherly: “I brought him two different packs of potato chips and Cheetos Wisely started with, saying, “This is one of the most delicious foods created on the planet. Pure fun!” He ate 12 pieces, but he wanted more and more. Most strongly impressed him, as the chips melted in your mouth: “If food is eaten quietly, your brain believes that it has no calories and you keep eating it forever.”

The touch response. The human brain likes variety, but when it comes to food, the same taste of food reduces the level of fun. Therefore, fast food is created in a way to stimulate the taste buds, but not too much that these foods never get bored. So, for example, after swallowing a bag of chips, you are ready to eat them again. The crunch and taste sensations from absorption of these chips do you like in the same way as the first time.

Pleasant associations. There are psychological reasons that motivate us to eat more junk food. When we eat something delicious, for example, a slice of pizza, the brain remembers these feelings and the next time we see this dish, feel his smell or just read about it, the brain begins to remember the same taste and encourages us to experience them again.

Ways of dealing with food addiction

Food companies spend millions of dollars to form in us an addiction to high-calorie foods with intense flavor, so many people, the question arises: is there any way to resist junk food?

According to research, the less we eat unhealthy foods, the less we want it.

Some people describe this transition period as “gene reprogramming” in which people are looking for ways to eat healthy food, lessening cravings for junk food.

We brought a few strategies that you can apply to get rid of dependence on harmful and high-calorie food.

Smart purchases. The best solution is to avoid buying processed and canned foods and replace them with healthy options: fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs and so on.

When you buy products in store you can also follow the “rule of five ingredients.” This means that if a product has more than five ingredients, just refuse from buying it.

Let your diet will be diverse. As we mentioned earlier, the brain craves variety, and it means that you can make changes in the diet and thereby maintain its attractiveness. New spices and flavors in your dishes will help you to quickly jump to a healthy diet.

Indeed, eating healthy should not be boring, so try to mix foods to get a more varied taste sensations. This is much better than to eat the same food again and again.

Find the best way to cope with stress. Many people resort to unhealthy food when experiencing stress, as it makes certain areas of the brain to release a chemical that increases the desire to eat fatty foods and sugar. So if you are experiencing difficult times, don’t allow yourself to be in this vicious circle and look for other ways of dealing with stress. For example, you can try physical exercises and breathing techniques.

In conclusion, it should be noted that junk food is not in vain got this name, as “junk food”, or dzhankfud, and supporters of healthy nutrition is considered her with a deadly poison.