You’re out shopping in the supermarket and you’re hit with a sudden pang of hunger. Chances are high that you end up reaching for the chips and other junk stuff, while those fruits and other healthy food items lie there unnoticed. So why is it that only the ‘unhealthy’ stuff that makes us put on weight and brings down our immunity tastes so good?
Irresistibility & Addiction Kick In
“Most junk & processed foods are loaded with ingredients like salt & fats or sugar, which triggers certain pleasure areas in the brain, making them extremely irresistible”
As perfect as it would have been for the healthy stuff to taste good and satiate our cravings, we’d be foolish to think this is true. Most of the unhealthy foods that we love to gorge on are loaded with salt, fat or sugar (think pav bhaji with dollops of butter). The quantity is much greater than what you’d normally use at home.
In fact, a study done on lab rats suggests that delicious fattening foods create a cocaine-like addiction in the brain. The rats in the study gradually developed a tolerance towards the pleasure they initially derived from the food and they needed to eat even more to experience that high again.
External Influences On Food Choices
“When we see advertisements for a crunchy KFC zinger that claims to be ‘finger-lickin’ good’, it does not take much to persuade us that it actually is”
There’s also a huge possibility that external factors play a major role, influencing your love and craving for junk and other unhealthy foods. Advertisers are smart enough to use marketing tactics to make unhealthy food look irresistible, which actually makes it more attractive to us.
The fact that unhealthy food is also more accessible and easy to grab (for instance, a packet of chips over vegetables or fruits that you probably need to wash or chop) does not make things any better. After all, our lives are now driven by choices of convenience rather than health.
Evolutionary Forces At Work
“Human beings have an instinctive attraction towards calorie dense foods, as these foods improved chances of survival in pre-agricultural times when there was no telling when & where the next meal would come from”
Surprisingly enough, there also exists a solid evolutionary theory that seeks to explain our love for the unhealthy. Back in the day when men were hit with food scarcity, dense energy sources like fats with high calorie contents were preferred because they ensured better chances of survival. As a result of this, human beings evolved to prefer such food items, even till today.
As tough as it can be to exercise some self-control and not go in for that second slice of pizza, remember a balanced and nutritious diet can go a long way in not only keeping you fit and healthy, but also making you happier in the long run.