Addiction to foods that are bad for us is similar to any substance addiction. The same care has to be given to avoiding or overcoming junk food addiction as with any other addiction. The science on food addiction has now established that highly palatable foods, including low-nutrient, high-calorie, intensely sweet, salty, and/or fatty foods which make up the majority of the Standard American Diet produce the exact biochemical effects in the brain that are characteristic of substance abuse.
Junk food is ubiquitously available, legal, cheap, and socially accepted. Therefore, it becomes the drug of choice for many of us, leading to addiction.
Characteristics of addictive behavior include:1
- Compulsive use of the substance despite negative health and social consequences
- Tolerance: over time, progressively greater amounts of the substance are needed to reach and maintain the “high”