Food Scientists Want to Make Us Addicts!

Its been a long day at work. You have dealt with many people from your boss, your co workers, your family members, and your janitors. You are wiped out, maybe a little stressed, and ready to relax on the couch. You sit down, crack open a bag of chips and decide – okay, I will only eat a few. Maybe you even look to see what a serving is. You start eating, and before you know it, you have eaten half the bag! $#!T!!! 

After putting the bag away, you say no more. Then the thought and the taste of the chips keeps calling your name. Calling you to eat more, and more. NO! You opt for a “healthier” choice. Eat that, its better. 30 minutes later you find yourself with the chips, cookies and thinking about ice cream. How the heck did this happen?

One thought is the idea of “hyper-rewarding, hyper palatable foods”. These foods are created by food scientists that have one job. To keep you wanting more, and thus, buying more of their companies products. How do they make it so easy?

In nature, there are three nutrients that “reward” our brains into feeling good. Fat, sugar and salt. These three ingredients never occur naturally with one another. Steak has some fat, fruit has some sugar, and salt is salt – nothing is really naturally salty unless you drink the ocean (highly unrecommended).

In the food industry, these nutrients ARE commonly found together. Chips are salty, fatty and pretty basic when it comes to carbohydrate content. Ice cream is fatty, and super sugary. The list goes on and on, but the main point is these foods are created to give us a big reward in the form of a dopamine surge. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter in the brain that we get a release of anytime we do something pleasurable.  This is the same neurotransmitter that causes nicotine, cocaine and heroin addictions in people. Our brains get that rush, then dopamine levels drop below the norms – so we crave more. 

The same thing can happen with food. I know that when I buy chips, ice cream, or any other hyper rewarding foods, I tend to eat them very frequently while they are in the house. If they aren’t in the house, I tend to not even think about them and all is well. Keep this in mind when you feel like you have an addiction problem with fattening foods, because it very well may be that. The best advice here is the old adage of “out of site, out of mind”. Remove these trigger foods from you house, your office, and your life – and you may find that you CAN live without eaten them all the time, and then when it comes to having them once in a while, it is okay and you don’t need to buy the huge quantities that last you a week, or a few days – but rather appropriate portions for a once in a while treat.

Best of luck!

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