Even the most well-meaning health nuts occasionally get sucked into the junk food vortex. We’ve all been there. You take a few bites of a flavorful processed snack food, and suddenly you’ve consumed 1,000 calories that are devoid of any real nutritive value or sustaining energy-giving compounds. And to top if off, you don’t even feel satisfied!
This type of effect is definitely a large culprit behind the current obesity epidemic we find ourselves in here at home. Never before has so much food been available so readily, in such quantity, or in such low, easily-produced quality. Unfortunately cheap, processed foods are also inexpensive, and many have come to rely on these types of processed, canned, packaged, pre-fabbed food to inexpensively provide for their families.
So, why are these types of foods so addictive? Why does it seem to have some sort of secondary gluttony effect on those who consume it frequently?
Hydrogenated fats are highly addictive
Hydrogenated fats and oils, which are whole, natural fats that have hydrogen atoms added to increase the shelf life and also to enhance flavor, actually stimulate you to eat more. This is because they enhance the flavor of foods and over stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain that preside over self control.
They create the same sort of addiction that one might experience on a temporarily pleasurable street or pharmaceutical drug, only to a lesser extent. It creates a sort of endless cycle of cravings since the brain gets used to this unnaturally concentrated flavor, and can cause a great deal of overeating.
When overeating leads to weight gain and increased fat, the increased body fat in turn leads to more fat cravings, so it really is a cycle that keeps begetting itself again and again, which helps explain why obesity is such a tough problem to overcome, especially once someone reaches a high percentage of body fat.
Since these hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fats, are not in fact “whole” fats as they are found in nature, they also don’t really satisfy any of the body’s fatty acid needs, so they do not serve as any type of beneficial fuel, which leads your body to seek out more and more to no avail if it keeps getting filled with the same type of fats.
Processed foods are naturally higher in sodium and sugars, and often have little dietary fiber
Processed foods, even the kind that are advertised as “healthy”, are often full of extra salt, preservatives and sugars. These extra ingredients serve to enhance flavor and to preserve the product. Their secondary effect is, of course, to make us feel the need to consume more and more of them in order that we might get any feelings of satiation.
Whole, unprocessed, and fresh foods, on the other hand, contain natural sugars and sodium, and are of course free of preservatives. They offer a full nutritional profile based on their contents instead of small parts of nutrition accompanied by empty calories and ingredients that are devoid of any real, fueling nutrients. This is why an apple, at only about 60-80 calories will leave you a lot fuller and a lot more fueled for the next couple hours than a bag of pretzels.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is another common ingredients still found in processed foods. It is a preservative and flavor enhancing ingredient, and still can often be found in different types of fast food. Since so many people are sensitive to it, thankfully it has been pulled out of some processed foods, but it still remains in many of them to extend shelf life and add flavor to foods that are actually long “dead”.
MSG triggers you to overeat not only because it enhances the flavor of the food it’s in, but it also triggers insulin, which means it causes irregular spikes and dips in your blood sugar. This in itself can make you overeat and can throw off your entire “natural off switch” when it comes to knowing when you’re full.
Danna Norek founded AuraSensory.com. Product line includes an MSM & Vitamin C Ester Hydrating & Brightening Face Cream and all natural plumping Hyaluronic Acid Serum, and a popular line of sulfate free hair care products.
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