Sunday, May 31, 2009

The End of Overeating

I listened to an audio excerpt of David A. Kessler's book, an End to Overeating, on Simon and Schuster's website today, and I have been reading reviews of his book. His thesis, that the food industry is manipulating our innate preference for salt, sugar and fat to create a nation of "hyper-eaters," to increase and insure their profit, absolutely resonates with me. I do feel driven to seek out food for it's "entertainment" value, rather than being satisfied eating nutritious food. I feel the lure of potato chips, candy and cupcakes, every day. It's exhausting, fighting these urges. And fattening, if I don't!

Dr. Kessler is a former head of the FDA, who revealed to the American public how the tobacco companies capitalized on the addictive nature of their product, to the detriment of the health of the nation. He sees "Big Food" using similar practices, of hooking consumers with food engineered to create a nation of "hyper-eaters," addicted to food that stimulates our desires, rather than satisfying them. This is something the proponents of frugality intuit: how we are being programed to be rabid consumers, spending money we don't have.

Dr. Kessler's book dovetails with research I have read regarding the brain's response to "palatable food." How the reward center of an obese person's brain lights up at the sight of high calorie food, but does not register as much satisfaction on consuming the treat as a slimmer person.

From what I can gather, without actually reading his book yet, the "answer" for the individual eater, (the author has broader prescriptions in terms of public policy), is to create rules for eating, and stick to them. He recommends externalizing the desire to eat junk, the way anorectics are taught to say "it is the disease anorexia which doesn't want me to eat, not ME, not myself." In this way, you say "my conditioned response is to eat candy, but I, MYSELF, do not want the empty calories in my body."

I think the line that sums it up best for me, came from one of the reviews I read, which contrasted food that is designed to stimulate appetite vs food that is designed to satisfy it. When was the last time you ate something that satisfied your body, that didn't provoke you to go looking for something more?

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