Do you know that highly delicious food contains a combination of high sugar, high fat and high salt? The potent combination provides a full range of senses that stimulates the appetite such that we cannot stop eating?

Think of your comfort food: pizza, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream and you will crave for it and eat non-stop even when you are full. Do you ever wonder why?

Dr. David Kessler investigated this issue in his book “The End of Overeating”. Along with taste and other sensory characteristics, the location of the food and the association with the past can strengthen and reinforce the desire to eat the food, forming into a habit.

Highly rewarding food re-wires our brain such that in the presence of delicious, comfort food, we cannot control ourselves and we want to eat more. As a result, we gain weight from eating more than we need.

The 3 key features of food that exert a powerful influence on our desire for more are:

  • Large quantity and portion size
  • High concentration of sugar, fat and salt ingredients in a given portion
  • Large variety

Food industry is the culprit

According to the book, the food industry has been instrumental in creating highly delicious food using sugar, fat and salt. This is the 3-point compass that is the ultimate target of all food scientists. The aim is to provoke multi-sensory effect even before we put food into our mouth and make it last after the food is gone.

The food industry has created varied highly processed food making it widely available in the supermarket and restaurant chains. Therefore, eating highly delicious food becomes more a norm to us today then they are in the past.

Continuous exposure to highly delicious food changes our brains making us lose control and overeat mindlessly.  Hence, we become conditioned into over eating. This is a growing trend even among youngsters.

Now you understand why it is so difficult to curb those cravings.

Is treatment possible? Yes, but it is not easy. I will cover Dr. David Kessler’s recommendation of treatment for conditioned overeating in my next post.

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