-Dr. David Kessler, pediatrician, former FDA commissioner, former dean of the Yale & UCSF medical schools-
Dr. David Kessler is on a mission. In his new book, "The End of Overeating", he says sugar, fat, & salt change the brain. That's why we can't stop eating even when we're full. Chocolate-covered pretzels. McDonald's french fries. Sweet and Salty Chex Mix. And the food industry, just like the tobacco industry, know this--and runs with it!
He wanted to figure out why it is so hard to control our eating? Whether we're a healthy weight or over-weight--we all think a lot about food--and according to Kessler, controlling this urge is often hardest for those with a healthy weight. You can skip right to this 4 minute video of Kessler for the whole fascinating explanation.
I stopped eating sugar/fat foods on January 1st, 2009. My aim was to ditch my addiction to chocolate and to the fat mixed with sugar mixed with white flour desserts I loved--like chocolate-chip cookies-- and yes, I know, deep dark chocolate is good for us. But, I could never take just one bite and stop.
Except for maybe 5 slip-ups over the past 4 1/2 months I've avoided sugar--and the longer I've stayed away, the less I craved it. According to Kessler, I made a wise decision. Sugar is the main driver of the addiction. Then if you layer it with fat, it becomes even more addictive.
But food is love. And when it comes to showing love, we all think fat, sugar & salt.
- Dee brought a cake frosted with shortening & sugar into work yesterday to celebrate the signing of her new house and to thank us all for filling in for her during her extended house-closing-process.
- Yesterday, my son was coming home for a 2 week visit and I filled my grocery cart with fat-sugar-salt just for him (I'm off the stuff). Sweet & Salty Chex Mix, Asiago Pepperoni bread, 2 pints of Graeter's ice cream & 10 home-baked M & M cookies. What was I thinking? These were his favorites as a teenager. Now he's 25 years old. What kind of a mother does that?
- Sara's out-of-town sister shipped her a super-gourmet cheesecake last month, just to show how much she cares. And yes, Sara is trying to eat healthy & control her weight.
We all know this fat-sugar-salt trifecta is killing us. Why do we love it so much? Why is it so hard to stop eating? How can we avoid it?
Dr. David Kessler--the FDA commissioner under George H.W. Bush & Bill Clinton and the former dean of Yale and UC San Francisco Medical Schools
First it's evolution--we're already programmed with an attraction to sugar & fat. Then it's neuroscience. Food that contains fat, sugar & salt changes the neuro-circuitry of our brains, and keep us addicted to this trio. The first step to ditching the stuff is to understand how it messes with our minds--how it turns off the brain's satiation meter--and keeps us coming back for more. Once you know this--it changes forever how you look at something like General Tsao's Chicken.
Food manufacturers know we can't resist the taste of fat-salt-sugar--which is exactly why they put it in our processed & restaurant food.
Thanks to Kessler's FDA stint, grocery food is labeled for fat-salt-sugar content & if we look carefully at the labels, at least we know what we're buying at the grocery store.
The last hold-out is restaurants. They don't have to label a thing. And they know that the more fat-sugar-salt that goes into their menu, the more we will like it and the more we will eat.
Here's how Kessler says we can put the brakes on the fat-sugar-salt trio. How we can limit this undo brain stimulation
- Take the bread away in a restaurant. Reduce the desire for butter or olive oil. Ditch the cue for fat.
- Structure your eating. Set rules for yourself. "I don't want this now. I'm going to want something better later"
- Eat out less. You set the rules for what ingredients go into your food. You'll avoid the restaurant chicken breast that's injected with a marinade of sugar & fat: ie orange juice, sweet & sour mix, citric acid, soybean oil, artificial colorings, triple sec, canola oil, tequila & salt. Oy vay!
- Be aware that restaurant food is loaded with fat, sugar & salt on purpose!
- Change your food perceptions. Change your food stimulus-reward response. When you see a huge plate of french fries, don't think, "Wow, that's great! Think, "That's just fat on sugar on fat. Yuck!"
- Worry about the children! Kids from ages 3-5 are eating constantly, all day. Fat, sugar, salt. "Once you lay down the neural circuitry that gets activated by highly palatable food--that stays down for life."
Want to hear or read more about Kessler and "The End of Overeating"?
To hear him on Terry Gross' NPR show Fresh Air, click here.
To hear him on Diane Rehm's NPR show, click here--Kessler is the 11:00 am segment.
To read the Huffington Post's interview with Kessler (learn about "eatertainment") click here.
Read the complete transcript of Kessler's interview with Terry Gross, click here.