Almost everyone has that one food craving that can tempt them to consume more than they planned. Experts have revealed the one thing that all addictive food has in common – they all contain a ratio of two parts carbohydrate to one part fat – the same ratio as breast milk.
Researchers from the University of Michigan took 120 students, offered them a choice of 35 different foods, and asked them to fill in the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a measure of how addictive you find a particular food. The foods were then ranked from 1 to 35 by the students.
Top of the list of ‘most addictive foods’ was chocolate, followed by ice cream, French fries, pizza, biscuits, crisps, cake, buttered popcorn and cheeseburgers. At the bottom were salmon, brown rice, cucumber and broccoli.
Experts from The Fast 800 programme, a weight loss plan devised by Micheal Mosely, have uncovered that, despite appearing to have little in common, each of the foods has approximately 2g carbs to 1g fat – the exact same ratio of fat to carbohydrate in human breast milk.
The similarity between favorite addictive food:
- Milk chocolate – 30g fat, 58g carbs
- Ice cream – 12g fat, 24g carbs
- Chips – 15g fat, 32g carbs
- Pepperoni pizza – 10g fat, 30g carbs
- Crisps – 30g fat, 50g carbs
- Sponge cake – 26g fat, 50g carbs
- Buttered popcorn – 30g fat, 56g carbs
- Cheeseburger – 14g fat, 30g carbs
The urge to give in to cravings of any kind – whether for food, nicotine, alcohol or gambling – is closely linked to a set of reward pathways forming part of the mid-brain. Signals from these pathways, however, can be given a ‘veto’ by another set of neurons, closer to the front of the brain, within the ‘prefrontal cortex’ or PFC.
Breast milk is one of the very few natural foods that contains high amounts of fat and carbs all mixed together.
The infant brain is super-sensitive to experiences during early years, laying down neural reward pathways that last for life.
It is not surprising, then, that the food that gives us our first feelings of reward lays the foundation for our later food cravings.