There's something irresistible about the spongy buoyancy of a sugary cake--and don't even get us started on frosting. (Frosting!) If you eat too much of it, though, you might not accumulate as many candles on that cake as you'd like. Sugar—in its many guises—has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Chips are ridiculously high in fat and salt, but that doesn't stop with the notoriously greasy brands. Even baked veggie chips are packed with fat and many mainstream chip brands list sugar on their ingredients lists. Whip up a batch of homemade kale chips with a touch of sea salt to satisfy your craving for crunch, instead.
5. CookiesThere's a reason the cookie jar is never full. According to a research review, merely seeing tempting food releases dopamine. Indulge and your brain gets a boost from that happy hormone, priming you to want more—and more, and more. Cookies, too, typically contain the three temptresses in one place. It would take an iron will to resist that.
Handle this potent stuff with care: A bite will do you. One study published in a 1997 issue of International Journal of Psychophysiology found that self-identified chocoholics had physical, behavioral, and emotional responses to chocolate that closely resembled those of drug addicts to their drugs. Sure, dark chocolate with a high concentration of cocoa imparts some health benefits, but most commercial chocolate—packed with milk solids, oil, fat and sugar—would not make the cut.
3. French FriesForever beckoning from its hot-oil baths, French fries are a dieter's nightmare and a food industry's dream. They're the apex of the sugar-fat-salt triumvirate: salted, fatty and with a touch of natural sugar. Besides being insanely addicting, commercial French fries also contain high levels of the carcinogen acrylamide. Luckily, scientists have come up with safer ways to enjoy them.
Mark Gold, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Florida, has been researching food addiction for 30 years. He found that the sugary foods you're exposed to in utero and throughout childhood make kids love—and crave—more sugar.
"We need to pay attention to what we feed our children," he says. "We may be setting them up to become food addicts."
1. Ice Cream
Ladies and gents, say hello to your biggest food addiction. It's no wonder: Ice cream is the go-to breakup binge, the creamiest celebration treat, the perfect hot-summer-day refresher, the more comforting cold-winter-night snack (under the covers? Anybody?).
What's the big deal? Animal studies have shown that high consumption of processed treats like ice cream may reduce the appeal of foods that were once considered rewarding, like watermelon. That's because it shifts our brain's hedonic set point. Once that happens, the only way to get your fix is, well, more ice cream.More: 7 Ways to Improve Your Health
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