There is this strange aspect of eating junk food; how do we all just end up eating junk food even when we now that it’s bad for us? All of us are well aware of the health problems that are created by eating these kinds of foods. But we still eat them and not just eat; we crave for them like anything. Have you ever wondered why it happens? Well, that’s what we are going to tell you here, the science behind all those cravings for junk food…
1 Junk food is mainly responsible in activating cravings
The taste, smell and feel; all are very important factors that help in designing the perfectly engineered junk food. In order to be awesome, food execs fiddle with ingredients till the food reaches what’s called as the “bliss point”, a “very perfect spot of just enough and not too much sugar,” according to Salt Sugar Fat author Michael Moss. He says that since at this point bread and sugar come together, they no longer sustain as healthy foods. This is a bliss point. The same is the case of yoghurt that is a healthy pick over ice-cream as long as sugar is not added to it.
2 We’re stressed out!
You might not be familiar with the name, but you’re likely very familiar with cortisol, especially to the feeling it generates as it is the main hormone released when we are under long-term stress and it does harm to the ways we think about food.
“Stress activates your adrenal glands to release cortisol, increasing your appetite,” says Melissa McCreery, PhD, ACC, psychologist and emotional eating expert of the site Too Much On Her Plate.
When we are tired, that thing makes us awful at making good decisions. When we think of staying away from junk food, restlessness is our biggest enemy. Why? It’s because of our fully tired brain that will ask for an energy booster in the form of craving and mainly sugar. Scientific enquiries back this up too.
In 2013, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley managed MRIs on the brains of 23 healthy young adults after a normal night’s sleep and then a sleepless night, and differentiated the results of the brain scan. The results showed that lack of sleep limited activity of the frontal lobe which is responsible for complex decision making, but the very same lack of sleep enhances activity in the brain centres which are responsive to rewards. They also added that people also selected unhealthy foods when sleep deprived.
3 Thrills that our brain seeks from food!
Strong contrast food items like Oreo cookies or Cadbury Eggs demand getting through a hard outer layer to a soft and fulfilling middle, and boy, do our brains search those ‘mixing the thrilling’ textures. You know the answer!!
We are cheated on, by a phenomenon called ‘vanishing caloric density.’ Some junk foods melt into your mouth and it’s on bet with the food companies that they do this purposely. It’s their clever way of tricking your brain that you are not taking many calories. Hence, this is known as “vanishing caloric density”, writes food scientist Michael Witherly. In case something breaks down in a jiffy, the brain thinks it has no calories in it and you could keep eating it forever.
4 How The Brain Works?
When you are glued onto junk food, your brain fails to let you forget those tasty memories. Your mouth starts watering and you cannot keep that particular food out of your mind until you eat it.
Our brain also likes variety. And when it’s about food, if you undergo same taste repeatedly, then you start getting less satisfaction from it. In other words, the sensitivity of that specific sensor will come down slowly.
So you see how your brain works towards aggravating your craving for junk food while you try hard to avoid it. Next time you crave for junk food, try diverting your mind and focus on a healthy body. Not to forget, a moment on the lips, forever on the hips!