Saturday, May 16, 2009

"The End of Overeating" by David A. Kessler, M.D.

Dr. David A. Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, was interviewed on the Diane Rehm show last Wednesday. (Link to the program here. Kessler was the guest for the 11:00 hour). After listening to the show, I looked over the book.

Kessler makes the case, based upon various studies, for the conclusion that foods containing tasty proportions of sugar, fat, and salt make the brain as hoppin' crazy as a teenybopper at a Jonas Brothers concert. An amped-up brain sends signals to eat even more, and consumption of food we perceive as delicious makes other areas of the brain send out positive vibrations.

Thus, when eating Cheetos, a complex set of chemical reactions occur in the brain/body that make some folks say, "Ahhh, delicious Cheeeeetos. I think I will eat until the bag is empty." Overeating can result in weight gain, feeling like an idiot, or both. By contrast, this compulsion to continue eating without regard to satiety or common sense does not typically occur when eating celery, a food that lacks sugar, salt, and fat.

Kessler also describes how manufacturers use this knowledge, that an attractive product loaded with sugar, fat and salt will sell like crazy, to invent items sold as "food" for the marketplace.

For those interested in the details as to why the sugar, salt, and fat combo can exert such a hold over some people, Dr. Kessler's book is for you. He also offers proposals on how to change undesirable eating behaviors.

If you don't want to read the book, do this instead:
  • Eat three meals a day, at approximately the same time every day.
  • Pay attention to how you feel at a meal. When you feel 80 percent full, stop eating.
  • Don't eat between meals. Note: Beer is food, people. This rule applies to beer and other alcoholic beverages.
  • The more something has been changed from its original state, the less of it you should eat. Example: There are no streams flowing with Brandy Old Fashioned and candy bars are not dug out of the ground, so consume them rarely.
Knowing and doing are different things, of course. Merely reading my rules, like reading Dr. Kessler's book, will not change what goes on in someones head. But for people interested in doing the hard, hard work involved in changing how they think about food, The End of Overeating may help.