Listen, I’m not what you’d call a “conspiracy theory” kind of guy. I don’t buy in to most of them, and I find many start to fall apart in the face of a little research.
But there’s one so-called conspiracy that I have no question is true, even if we never find a smoking gun memo to prove it. There’s a category of food that has been specifically engineered for us to overindulge in.
I’m talking about processed packaged foods.
You’re being duped into overeating
It’s true. Prepackaged junk foods are carefully designed, manufactured and marketed with one goal in mind. That goal is to trigger us to eat far more of them than we need to or should. And the food companies are not above using tricks to make it happen.
They literally have cravings built in making them incredibly hard to resist overeating.
In other words it really ISN’T your fault that you’re overeating. They really are turning you into a junk food addict.
There’s an old slogan for a line of potato chips that read, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” It was probably true.
In fact, the entire food manufacturing industry ought to adopt the slogan as their own.
So how do they do it?
3 underhanded food cons that trick us into overeating
Con #1 – The Science of Craving:
Those chips I was talking about earlier? There’s a reason you can’t stop after eating just one. Food manufacturers are exploiting the science of cravings to trigger us into reaching into the bag again, and again and AGAIN.
They build craveability into the chip by carefully layering triggering flavors one on top of the other.
Your tongue touches the salt covering the outside of the chip and instantly a message is sent to your brain where your pleasure center lights up like a Fourth of July fireworks display.
Your brain then shoots out a message in response, “Yes, MORE please!”
Now if it was the salt alone, a built in mechanism—called “sensation-specific satiety”—would eventually kick in and we’d stop eating the food. This is what happens when you’re eating a natural food that tastes delicious, but you simply reach a point when you’ve had enough.
Although you’ve probably never heard of sensation-specific satiety, food manufacturers know ALL about it. So they dump in plenty of their second secret-weapon layer, fat.
Once again our brains light up like Christmas trees keeping the “feed me!” messages coming. And then there’s the starch (look at the label, you’ll spot it) that your body coverts into its favorite craving, sugar.
In other words, it’s nearly impossible for you to stop eating until you’ve eaten far too much. And this same sort of trickery is being applied to all your favorite pre-packaged foods.
Con #2 – The Light As Air Lie:
There’s a reason so many junk foods have a “light as air” or “melt in your mouth” texture. Food manufacturers know this quality will keep you on the hook eating more and more of their products.
Foods like your favorite cheese puffs or meringue cookies are engineered to have something called vanishing caloric density. It’s a con designed to trick your tummy into having no clue you’ve consumed a cartload of calories.
The result? Your brain never gets the text “hey, I’ve eaten enough… I’m full.” So you keep reaching into the package for “just one more” until they’re all gone.
Con #3 – Layering Loophole:
Along with the “sensation-specific satiety” we talked about in con #1 there’s another layering trick that food manufacturers are using to trick us into craving more and more of their products. It’s called “dynamic contrast,” and it makes junk foods feel nearly irresistible.
Food manufactures layer in a bunch of different mouth sensations and our bored brains just can’t get enough of the novelties. From crunchy outer shells to creamy soft fillings our pleasure centers are once again getting hit over and over.
Ever wonder why an Oreo cookie with its crunchy outside and creamy filling is just so darn desirable? Dynamic contrast is the answer.
3 tricks of your own to beat the food craving con
So now that we know about the tricks the food manufacturers are using to turn us into overeating, processed-food addicts you’re probably wondering what we can do about it. The good news is plenty.
1. Choose whole foods:
This solution may be the most obvious, but it probably also feels like the hardest. But here’s a trick of your own you can use to help you only pick whole foods and not be tempted by the junk.
Shop the outside aisles.
It’s that easy. Stick to the perimeter aisles when you go grocery shopping and you’ll be getting healthy non-processed foods such as veggies, meats and dairy.
2. Turn Con #3 into your own trick:
Food manufactures are using dynamic contrast to get you to eat too much of all the wrong foods, but you can turn this con on its head and put it to work for you.
Mix up your own whole and natural food sensations. Pair crunchy veggies with hummus dip. Toss some blueberries and nuts into your creamy plain yogurt. Give your brain the variety it loves, but do it the healthy way.
3. Take the “Am I REALLY hungry quiz”:
Way too often we eat out of boredom or to relieve stress. And when we do, not only are we eating when we don’t need to, we often make poor food choices and reach for the easy to eat processed junk foods.
So before you take that first bite give yourself a little three question “Am I REALLY hungry?” quiz.
Start by asking yourself…
- Is my stomach growling?
- Am I feeling light-headed?
If you answer no to them both, chances are you’re not actually hungry. These are the two most common signs of true hunger.
So then ask yourself…
3. Am I stressed? Anxious? Bored?
Chances are you will realize you are one of the three. And once you know it you can do something about it that doesn’t involve eating empty calories. Taking a walk can help with all three. Picking up a good book is a good choice too.
Still in danger of ripping open that bag of Lay’s Potato Chips? Give our team a call at 1-800-928-5580 and we’ll help you back away from the bag.
As a practicing physician, “Dr. Steve” has cared for general surgery and general medicine patients. In addition to his work as a medical doctor, he worked for the U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment and at the U.S. Congress, performing research on health care, medical technology and drug-related issues.
Dr. Steve received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from UCLA. So you could say he is a doctor with an engineering mind.
Dr. Steve is focused on creating evidence-based nutritional supplements that actually do what they claim. The problem currently on the top of his mind is figuring out the right combination of natural supplements, optimal diet and behavioral changes that will help people get a handle on their weight and health issues.
He is the proud father of 4 children all under the age of 10, and is active in the New York City community. He loves Frank Sinatra, and if you get him in a really good mood, he just might sing you a tune.
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