We have all experienced momentary anguish when it comes to our favorite junk foods. For example, do you berate yourself when you inadvertently eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while watching your TV? Do you need to recover emotionally after finishing off a package of Oreos? Other diet-buster pitfalls are snacks and chips, such as crunchy cheese flavored Cheetos or Kettle brand salt and pepper potato chips. When in my cupboard I hear them saying, “Eat me, eat me.” Do any of these dilemmas hit home for you? If so, then read on.
If you are still reading, then you might be interested in checking out Michael Moss’s book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” Just look at the reviews on Amazon. People are recommending that everyone read it and say there should be a children’s edition. For many it is a revelation that has transformed them into an avid label reader. If you want to be a mindful-eater, Moss’s book may have you considering every forkful of food you put in your mouth.
Michael Moss is a prize-winning science journalist. Science journalists dig deep into the research and then write so you and I understand it. What does Moss say that others have not? He introduces you to the “bliss point,” a term food corporations do not want you to know about. So what is it?
Moss says the bliss point makes losing weight an incredible struggle because the food manufacturers manipulate the levels of sugar, salt and fat to hit the optimal pleasure centers in the brain. These pleasure centers are what manufacturers covertly call the “bliss point.” Does that sound like a drug? You may think your problem is emotional eating, but perhaps you just want another shot of the perfected junk-food-cocktail veiled in optimal proportions of salt, sugar and fat.
How do researchers determine the bliss point? They have people sample foods made with varying levels of sugar, salt and fat, and then rate which is most enticing. Also, while people eat the food, researchers use fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, to view the pleasure centers of the brain. Then they see on the fMRI monitor what levels of sugar, salt and fat activate your bliss point the most. The food corporations want you to crave their product so you will not want to stop eating! Once the bliss point shines on their monitor, they know you will be optimally vulnerable to keep on eating.
What do you do if you want to enjoy your favorite foods, yet stay out of the diet-buster pit? For now, be aware that you are being manipulated and I will provide mindful-eating tips in the next column.
See more of Dr. Cullman’s columns at http://www.firstlocaltoledo.com/columnists/dr-ellen-cullman. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 419-494-7699 for information about how you can begin mindfully eating. Dr. Cullman is available for individual sessions, presentations and seminars.