Are you addicted to pizza? It’s okay, it’s a real thing.
Pizza is, by far, the most popular food in the United States, and one of the most popular foods in the world. It’s hard to imagine life without pizza on a regular basis, and why would you want to? If you’re anything like the average Western household, you probably eat pizza at least 2 to 4 times per month. But did you know that you may be forming an unhealthy desire to eat pizza? In fact, there is such a thing as “pizza addiction.” Sounds hard to believe, right?
Here’s what you need to know:
A study published in the medical journal PLOS One looked at food addiction. More specifically, it examined “highly processed foods share pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. concentrated dose, rapid rate of absorption) with drugs of abuse, due to the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrates and the rapid rate the refined carbohydrates are absorbed into the system, indicated by glycemic load (GL).”
Basically, certain foods (including pizza) have just the right balance of fat and carbs to be absorbed quickly into the human body. This leads to a spike in blood sugar, and that spike provides a rush of energy. This sensation is similar to that caused by substances (caffeine, nicotine, and stronger drugs), which is why we go back to eating pizza time after time. It’s not because we love the flavor (though, make no mistake, we do), but it’s because we want that “rush” that comes from the mix of carbs and fats.
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In this study, 120 students completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale questionnaire. After that, they were then given 35 different foods, and were asked to choose which were the ones most commonly associated with addiction-like eating behaviors.
The result of the study: foods higher in fat and carbs (a higher glycemic load–meaning lots of carbs with no fiber) were the ones most commonly associated with addiction-like eating behaviors. Of course, foods like chocolate, cookies, cakes, bagels, bread, pasta, and other high-carb, high-fat foods were also on the list of foods that caused the unhealthy eating behavior. There were lots of foods that could cause people to overeat or make poor eating choices. However, pizza was one of the primary foods on the list.
Pizza is, to be perfectly honest, one of the least healthy meals you can eat. It’s high in unhealthy, simple carbs (thanks to the crust and the high-sugar tomato sauce), rich in fat (thanks to the cheese, pepperoni, and other high-fat ingredients), and low in protein (there’s only a small amount of usable protein in the cheese and various processed meat toppings), and VERY low in vitamins and minerals. Let’s not even touch the saturated fat content, okay? And processed meats?No thanks. That might ruin your day. The crust is usually made from white flour, and the cheese is almost always a high-fat one. After all, it’s the high fat content of the cheese that makes it pair so beautifully with the tangy tomato sauce.
The point is this: pizza addiction is real, so you cannot be blamed. The only rehab we know of is going cold turkey or loading up a zucchini with tomato sauce and low fat cheese, but let’s be real, that will never be the same. If you need an excuse to call into work sick tomorrow though, it’s cool, blame your newfound “addiction.”