The following information was compiled from the book: End of Overeating, by Dr. David Kessler. He realized that the shift towards obesity in the American culture escalated intensely starting in the 70’s and 80’s. He began to compile the research of many food scientists as well as the research done by the food industries. The restaurants are in relationship with the food industries that have been trying to figure out how to get Americans to eat more food and spend more money on eating. We now spend 50% of our food dollar eating out. Here are some interesting points to consider:
- The average weight of Americans is now 30-35 more pounds than it was in the 1970’s. Food industry researchers discovered that sugar, fat, and salt combined together in optimal amounts makes people eat more food. When the mix is just right, the food becomes more stimulating which makes people eat more food with sugar, fat and salt. These foods are considered “hyper-palatable” and they stimulate the brain’s reward system making people over-ride their body’s natural homeostasis. This is the very thing that makes us want more food than we need. Homeostasis is what used to keep us in our more normal weight range, but beginning in the 1980’s, it became like a runaway train. We live in a culture that promotes eating out, and there are more chain restaurants (which are in cahoots with the food industry researchers) than ever in our history. The food industries are desperately trying to be the manipulator of the consumer’s minds and desires. They care about money and the bottom line of companies such as Nabisco, Hienz, and Kelloggs. They do not care one iota about the health of the American people.
- Animals consistently will overeat when fed hyper-palatable foods, and even if bred to be obesity –resistant, they will become obese when fed sugar-fat-salt combos. When fed their normal chow, they maintain their normal weight.
- The food industries create dishes which are designed to hit what is called the “three-point compass”. Sugar, fat, and salt make food compelling.
- *The neuro-chemistry of the brain actually changes to the point where the neurons become “amped up”. Sugar, fat, salt combinations in foods cause increased opioid circuitry and the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Opioids are endorphins which are produced in the brain, as is dopamine. Opioids have a rewarding effect similar to morphine and heroin. Stimulating the opioid circuitry stimulates us to eat more food.
- A single food product such as Buffalo wings for example can stimulate many different neurons simultaneously. The fattiest part of the chicken gets deep fried, then served with a creamy or sweet dipping sauce that is heavily salted. This is an example of sugar, on salt, on fat on fat on fat. One set of neurons is triggered by the sugary taste, another is triggered by the creamy taste, and another set of neurons gets triggered by the aroma.
- The cumulative effect of this is that sensory stimuli amp up the neurons in the brain getting them to fire more, the message becomes stronger, motivating the eater to act more vigorously in the pursuit of that stimulus – more sugar, fat, salt combination.
- Food researchers have even figured out how to process foods so that they require less chewing, making sure we can wolf it down. By eliminating the need to chew, it is possible to consume 500-900 extra calories in one meal. This food melts in the mouth.
- In research done with humans giving them the opportunity to eat without restriction they ate over 4500 calories per day. This is more than double the need for calories for most humans.
There is a way out of this and it is simple: eat natural whole foods as much as possible. Whole foods appear on our plates the way they did when they were in nature: fresh foods from the grocery store: lean meats and fish, whole carbohydrates that are naturally lower on the glycemic index, as many fresh fruits and vegetables as we can, and healthy fats such as olive oil, flax oil and other omega 3 rich foods like chia, hemp seeds, and flax seeds, walnuts and other fresh healthy nuts and seeds. Minimal sweets, no more than 10% of our daily need for calories which is going to be only somewhere between 150 and 250 extra calories. We are still the same bodies that were hunters and gatherers!