Top Ingredients Causing Food Addiction
There’s a fine science behind why you can’t eat just one…of almost anything.
It’s no secret that today’s convenience-based eating habits are creating some serious problems. Most people are aware of the effects of eating fast and processed food—diabetes, heart disease, obesity—to name a few. However, few people are aware of the meticulous science that goes into making these foods irresistible to consumers, and how for some this cultivates a hard-to-beat food addiction.
A staggering amount of food dependency is related to five core ingredients typically found in fast foods or processed foods: salt, sugar, fat, MSG and casein. These are nearly always present in chemically processed foods, which are made with refined ingredients and artificial substances, and increasingly popular around the world.
The prevalence of international fast food chains and convenience stores stocked with aisles of processed foods throughout Thailand speaks to the wide-reaching appeal of these types of foods and underscore the high potential for people to become hooked.
Understanding the Fast Five: Salt, Sugar, Fat, MSG and Casein
Salt, Sugar and Fat
While also naturally occurring substances, salt, sugar and fat often show up in processed foods as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Our bodies are instinctually designed to crave salt, sugar and fat because these types of food generally contain the energy and nutrients needed for survival. However, the combination of the three in a highly refined form is widely considered a ‘trigger substance’ as it keeps the consumer coming back for more, even to the point of addiction. This is particularly true when combined with other flavour enhancers such as MSG.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a form of concentrated salt used as a flavouring agent in many processed foods. It is a cheap flavour enhancer that is used to mask otherwise bland or unpalatable food ingredients. Though it is a legal additive, a range of side effects has been attributed to MSG including skin rashes, hives, itching, nausea, vomiting, asthma, heart irregularities, chest pain, asthma, depression, headaches, migraines, seizures and physical weakness.
Though casein is lesser known than the other four, it plays a significant role in food addiction, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘nicotine’ of fast food. Casein is derived from phosphoproteins in milk and refined in a special process by adding calcium hydrogen phosphate. The resulting ingredient is widely used in many fast foods. French fries, buns, milkshakes, sausages and creamy salad dressings are just a few of the drive-thru delights that heavily feature casein.
The Science Behind Why You Can’t Take Just One Bite
With the diversity of foods available to consumers worldwide, particularly in urban areas, there is major competition among producers to attract and retain customers. Food producers in turn pour significant time and resources into identifying what keeps people coming back for that next bite. This includes hiring chemists, physicists and even neuroscientists to help manufacture the perfect taste, crunch and texture.
Chris Lukehurst, a food industry consultant, explained to CBC News, “Some products, like most savoury snack products, want to be continually more-ish, so at the end of each product, they want you to reach out for the next product and put it in again, and they often achieve that by having an intense taste at the front of the mouth, and that dies off quickly, and so by the time you’ve finished each mouthful, you’re looking to re-taste what you’ve lost.”
The effectiveness of the food industry in creating irresistible snacks and treats is evident in expanding waistlines around the world. In Thailand alone, 32% of the population is overweight or obese, with Bangkok residents at greatest risk for obesity.
Food Addiction is a Real and Serious Condition
People suffering from addictions of any type are often subject to a tremendous amount of blame, and food dependency is no different. Due to the lack of awareness regarding the carefully manufactured addictive qualities of some foods, as well as the different interactions such foods may have with individual consumers, people facing food addiction are often accused of having a lack of willpower.
For recovering food addict Pat Guillet, there is now an understanding that willpower is simply not enough for someone in the throes of dependency.
“These foods are so addictive, so appealing,” she told CBC News. “They give you a high and you feel better. And the thing many food addicts say is, long after the food causes us joy, long after it causes us misery, we still couldn’t stop. It becomes hard-wired and it’s very hard to overcome.”
Some key indicators of food addiction include:
- Eating more than planned
- Feeling unsatisfied or guilty after eating
- Setting and breaking rules about eating
- Hiding amounts or types of foods consumed
- Inability to avoid foods creating health problems
- Eating habits that interfere with work or personal life
Confronting Your Cravings at The Cabin Bangkok
Food addiction is a recognised and serious condition that can be effectively treated. If you are concerned that you may have a dependency on food, The Cabin Bangkok has a specialised outpatient programme that can help. We offer an effective, innovative treatment plan that can help you establish healthy eating habits while maintaining work and family commitments.
Our unique ‘Recovery Zones’ method has a 96% completion rate and focuses on addressing addiction in a holistic manner. We’ll help you identify underlying causes of food dependency while also connecting with ways to cope with everyday triggers and stay on the path to recovery. Our highly trained team includes clinical professionals and an on-site nutritionist whose focus will always be you.
For those who would require a more intensive treatment programme, The Cabin Chiang Mai offers a world-class residential rehab facility where you can focus solely on developing a new, healthy relationship with food.
If your cravings are out of control, call The Cabin Bangkok today. Together we can create your own recipe for a healthy lifestyle.