Maybe you're hooked on bacon, jonesing for a cupcake or looking for a chocolate fix, but is it possible to be truly addicted to foods? The idea is controversial, but as The New York Times reports, research on the connections between food, pleasure and self-control is pointing toward the possibility of certain foods being addictive, just like cigarettes.One study looking at the behavior of rats eating large amounts of sugar found that the animals demonstrated signs of severe withdrawal when the sugar was taken away, symptoms like chattering teeth, tremoring forepaws and the shakes. When they were allowed to eat sugar again two weeks later, the rats dispensed it so frantically they ate 23 percent more than before.
But the potential for food addiction may be related to the type of food consumed, says Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. People don't abuse whole fruits and vegetables, she says. "But when a highly processed food is eaten, the body may go haywire. Nobody abuses corn as far as I know, but when you process it into Cheetos, what happens?"
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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