Do you struggle with food cravings? Do you find that once you start eating certain foods, it's incredibly hard to stop and you can't help but overeat? Do you feel as if you're addicted to certain foods? If you answered yes, you're not alone.
But before you start getting down on yourself for your lack of willpower and self-discipline, consider what you're up against.
There's a good chance the foods you're eating aren't "normal" foods. You're probably eating hyper-palatable foods (HPF) that have been expertly manufactured to get you addicted and eating more.
These foods come at you with a powerful one-two punch. First, they make you feel really good by lighting up your brain-reward neural circuitry. This "hit" is noticeably stronger than the reward effects you get from eating natural foods like fruits and vegetables. Next, HPF overpower the mechanisms that are supposed to let you know when you've had enough to eat. Each bite makes you feel good, so you're motivated to continue eating, and you're no longer getting the signal that would normally lead you to stop eating.
What is it that make these foods so powerful and hard to resist? There are three key nutrients at work: fat, sugar, and sodium. These nutrients aren't a problem when your body gets them from natural, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. But in snacks, ultra-processed foods, and junk food, those three nutrients often appear in unnatural combinations and exceptionally high concentrations.
For example, apples and oranges contain sugar, but they contain almost no fat or sodium. Spinach and lettuce contain sodium, but almost no sugar or fat. On the other hand, common HPF like breakfast cereals, pizza, and ice-cream typically contain high quantities of all three—sugar, fat, and salt.
Aside from inducing you to eat more than you normally would, the peculiar ingredient-mix in HPF raises other important concerns: what long term effects do these foods have, both on your physical body, as well as your mental and emotional state? As the aforementioned example shows, these foods are presenting your body with a nutrient blend that isn't routinely found in nature; it's essentially foreign to your body. How much stress does it put on your body when you consume these foods day after day? With a bit of reflection, most people intuitively sense that while these foods might be highly appealing in terms of taste, they aren't going to nourish your body the way more natural, whole foods will.
One of the best things you can do for your health and well-being, both in the short and long term, is to reduce your HPF intake. Here are some tips that can help:
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