Life Food & Drink

Sunday 22 July 2018

The most addictive food you can eat - and it's not chocolate or cheese

Stock image
Stock image

Rachel Hosie

It’s a scene all too familiar: You say you’re only going to have one slice of pizza, or one row of chocolates, or one sliver of cheese. But, before you know, it you’ve scoffed a large pizza, a family-sized bar of chocolate and a whole cheese board.

That's our experienced, anyway. Oops.

But let it be known you’re not alone.

In fact, studies show that certain foods really are more addictive than others. And it may come as no surprise to learn that they’re nearly all high in fat or sugar (or both).

Researchers from Colorado State University undertook a study which resulted in preliminary evidence to suggest highly processed foods are more likely to be addictive.

They even went so far as to say such foods share characteristics of “drugs of abuse” - ie. they’re consumed in high doses and absorbed rapidly.

These are foods that often lead people to claim they’re suffering from “food addiction.”

35 foods were studied, and you may not be surprised to hear broccoli did not make the list of worst offenders.

The 10 most addictive foods:





Ice cream



Fizzy drinks (non diet)



In 10th place, cheese is the only non-processed food on the list, which was followed by bacon not far behind.

So, what can we learn from this?

Most of these addictive foods are high in fat and likely to raise blood sugar quickly.

At the opposite end of the scale, the least addictive foods - such as brown rice and salmon - were free from refined carbohydrates and added fat.

In fact, the least addictive food of all emerged as cucumber. After all, how often do you have a cucumber binge?

The 10 least addictive foods:



Beans (no sauce)


Brown rice (plain)




Corn (no butter or salt)


Dr Nicole Avena, one of the study’s co-authors and an assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics, said: “This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response.

“This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

So if you’re trying to watch your portion size and learn to stop eating when you’re full, it’s just another reason to have salmon, broccoli and brown rice for dinner instead of pizza.

Online Editors

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life