Monday, January 11, 2010

It’s Not a Fair Fight

So, what else is new? But knowing what you’re up against provides a lot of ammunition—and a strategy to bring the playing field into better balance, giving you a fair shot at success.

Dr. David A. Kessler, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, is maybe best known for his efforts to regulate the tobacco industry, and his accusation that cigarette makers intentionally manipulated nicotine content to make their products more addictive. He now points out that the food industry has done much the same—by combining and creating foods in a way that stimulates our desire for more food—and more of the wrong foods.

It’s not so much the individual ingredients says Dr. Kessler. He says it’s the combinations—of fats, sugars and salt that tap into the brain’s reward system, creating a circular loop that stimulates the desire to eat and then leaves us wanting more, even when full. He says food companies “design food for irresistibility” as part of their business plans.

This explains why we think fast food tastes “good.” It may be why it’s so hard to stop with “just one” miniature Snickers bar. Knowing this is important because it means we don’t make these unhealthy food choices because we are “weak,” but in part because we are being over-stimulated by the “design” of the foods we consume. What happens if we use this knowledge to begin to think differently about the foods we eat? What happens if we use this knowledge to begin to take back control of our food choices?

If we are indeed conditioned by the food industry to overeat, then being mindful of this fact and of what we choose to consume to nourish our bodies is up to us. Are you tired of being manipulated? Are you up for a challenge? What do you have to lose?

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