It might not be your fault if you can’t stop eating junk food

Some of the Craziest Junk Food Ever Created

Bacon, ice cream and potato chips are all foods people seem to crave. Chip maker Lay’s, after all, based its advertising on the phrase, “You can’t eat just one.”

But why can’t our bodies get enough of these unhealthy foods? A new study by the University of Kansas and the National Institutes of Health sheds some light on the situation.

Our brains love “hyper-palatable” foods — those processed goods that combine fat, sugar, carbs and sodium — “and once we start eating them it can be hard to stop,” Hartford HealthCare reported.

According to the university, KU scientist Tera Fazzino first described hyper-palatable foods in 2019 as having certain combinations of fat, sugar, sodium and carbohydrates that make them artificially rewarding to eat and harder to stop consuming.

When these combinations are eaten together, Hartford HealthCare reported, they can stimulate your appetite and cause you to crave more. Examples include:

  • Hot dogs or bacon, which combine fat and sodium
  • Cake, ice cream or biscuits, which combine fat and sugar
  • Crackers, pretzels and chips, which combine carbohydrates and sodium

“All of these foods are processed and usually lack fiber and protein, which help us feel fuller,” BreAnn Erickson, RDN, a nutritionist with the Hartford HealthCare Digestive Health Institute, told Hartford HealthCare.

“It’s fine to have them on occasion as long as you are consuming a well-balanced diet the majority of the time,” Erickson said.

She added it can be challenging, however, when the foods make you crave them. That’s why you should choose whole foods, which aren’t as processed, whenever possible.