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Five pleasure foods that you can’t stop eating

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There’s a reason why humans have come up with the term “emotional eating”. For better or worse, food is tied to our moods and feelings, and the cravings that come on suddenly for comfort foods actually feed our brains’ pleasure centre more than our stomachs.

A study on the physiological effects of eating comfort foods showed that when they are consumed for pleasure rather than a need for energy, rewarding chemical signals are sent to the brain. This can override the body’s signals that it has eaten enough to restore energy and cause overeating.

In short, snacking on our favourite comfort foods cause us to snack even more, leading to a higher risk of obesity.

Snack food manufacturers understand this principle well, constructing foods that are meant to provide pleasure.  A melt in your mouth cheese puff for example, will contain enough fat, sugar and salt to reach a “bliss point” where your taste buds will crave more.  The puff’s ability to melt in your mouth quickly makes the brain think there’re no calories in it, so you keep going till the bag is empty.

 

Potato Chips

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From the cut of the chip for a better “mouth feel” to the release of sugar when you bite into it, this staple of the snack industry is carefully calibrated to hook hedonistic eaters.

For a healthier chomp, try baking kale chips instead.  A healthy green, kale can turn into a crunchy delight when baked in a steam combination oven like the Electrolux EOK96030X. Top it off with olive oil and sea salt, and you’ll get a similar flavour to a potato chip, except with more fibre, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and vitamins A, C, E and K.

 

Ice cream

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Full of sugar and cream, this smooth operator has long been the go-to comfort food of choice to soothe any disheartening moment.  It is so addictive that a study has shown that ice cream shares some similarity to drugs in the way they set off the brain’s pleasure centre. 

If you need something creamy, cold and sweet, try blending an ice cold smoothie with a blender like the Electrolux Powermix Silent.  Ingredients like avocados, almonds and coconut milk along with fruits, honey and nuts can help to recreate the smooth mouth feel and pleasure of eating ice cream.

 

Soft drinks

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A can of soft drink contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, or 100% of a person’s recommended daily intake. The reason you aren’t overwhelmed by the amount of sugar is because the phosphoric acid in the drink cuts through the sweetness.  Your body produces more dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centre of your brain.  Eventually, you’ll experience a sugar crash and become irritable or sluggish. 

If you like your drinks sweet, keep a glass of cold fruit juice or iced tea in the fridge, with natural sugar substitutes like stevia handy. The Electrolux EJE3000 juicer can juice whole fruits easily, making it convenient to prepare sweet drinks for when cravings strike.

 

Pizza 

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Fat from cheese and oil, sugars in the sauce and crust, salt in the meat and other toppings combine to give any commercial pizza eater the ultimate high.

Try to make your pizzas at home instead, using sprouted or gluten-free flour, organic cheese and vegetables.  By baking it at home, you can also control the amount of grease, salt and fat you put on it.

 

Burgers

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Like every other fast food, burgers contain oodles of salt, fat and sugars, making them a great comfort food.  Try going bunless with a homemade burger, topped with vegetables like avocados, lettuce and tomatoes.  Or you can even try going vegetarian, grilling a Portobello mushroom brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

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