Obesity in America is a big health problem that leads to other chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Millions of people always think about food. When the next meal will be, what will be eaten, and is there time for a snack? They think these thoughts not because there is a shortage of food, but because their thoughts revolve around food. Food is a tangible good that is able to create a sense of happiness, fulfillment, and anticipation.
One problem that results from this type of mindset is when people who constantly think about food begin to eat, they lose control. They are enticed by the happiness that comes with the food. Once they begin eating, they cannot seem to stop. This is especially true when the food is appealing or if they are eating the food that was on their mind the whole day.
They have the mindset that makes them desire to eat the whole day without stopping. If you ask them why do they think that way, they will not know themselves why they are like that.
Sometimes, the foods that they crave most are associated with events from their youth. Family gatherings when they were children. Eating cheesecake when they scored well on their report card. Pizza and movies almost every day of the week. Candy bars and chocolate cookies that they begged their parents for when they were at the store.
Sometimes these people dream about food when they are sleeping.
This obsession with food is harmful to them. Thinking about food causes people to be more distracted and worried about their jobs, which creates more stress in their lives.
Not everybody with this condition gets overweight. Some of them work hard. Consistently going to the gym to exercise and fighting the urge to eat when it arises. However, even in these strong-minded individuals, they cannot stop thinking about food, which causes them to be unhappy and anxious.
Dr. David Kessler MD author of the book “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite” mentions that the brains of people are wired differently in relation to food.
Most people have been conditioned by the food industries that have given them unhealthy food and cues that activate the reward system of the brain.
These stimulating food are designed to be the focus of the customer’s attention. This is done by promoting desire, anticipation, and momentarily good feelings creating food craving.
The food is affordable, sugary, convenient to buy, fatty, salty, and delicious. The food is also designed to create the feelings of comfort, fun, happiness, sedation, stimulation, and reward.
This kind of food has power over some people. Time seems to stop when they are in front of these foods.
The Weight Gain In America
Certain foods make us want to eat more of the food. In order to lose weight, people are spending billions of dollars on diet plans and supplements and even then, they find that the results are only temporary.
It is not that people that gain weight lack will power. There is a distinctive pattern in overeating. This pattern has no correlation with willpower or self-control.
In the United States, there is not a fear of a food shortage like in the times of the Bible, that pushes some people to overeat. There is plenty of different kinds of foods in the supermarkets including fruits and vegetables.
Katherine Flegal , a senior researcher at the Federal Centers Of Disease Control and Prevention, noticed a trend in the 1980’s. The population had gained weight compared to ten years previous. A problem with this is that the overweight people of the time were the ones that were gaining most of the weight.
Now we know that eating certain foods will not fill our appetite. Certain foods are designed to increase our appetite which makes the body crave more of these foods.
The Reward System and Eating More
Studies in animals have demonstrated that the reward system in the brain is powerful. One of these studies involved animals that were put in the other extreme of the room where the food was. While they were going to get the food by walking across the room, afterward, they would receive an unpleasant shock. This shock stopped them from eating the food across the room even if they were hungry,
The second group of animals was subjected to another study to see how they would react to the stimulation of their brain reward center. The reward center of animals is located in the far-lateral hypothalamus. This part of the brain was stimulated with electrodes after the animals crossed the electrified room to get the food.
After the reward part of the brain was stimulated, the animals did not care about the unpleasant shock to get the food. They kept on going for the food and the reward even though it involved pain from the shock.
The body reward system encourages us to seek pleasurable things like sex and food. This system (through its motivational pathways) is essential to survival. We take action when we anticipate a reward. We feel good even momentarily when we obtain something that we are pursuing.
Once the information is received, we act on it. The emotional response is activated by stimuli in the environment and we behave accordingly.
The reward system, along to the hedonic hunger and the homeostatic system, is activated when we eat, but the reward system is more powerful. In order to lose weight, you have to have a vigilant mindset.
People that weight more, in most cases (with the exception of teenagers) eat more than people that weigh less. We gain weight when we eat more.
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Foods That Make Us Eat More
Some foods have the capability to stimulate appetite and make us eat more. These foods contain sugar, fat and/or salt.
Depending on the quantity of sugar, fat, and salt, will usually make the meal taste good. They cause foods to be creamy and palatable and will make us eat more.
Desserts By Peggy Greb, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
French Fries By Crisco 1492 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons , Corn chips By Leon Brooks [Public Domain}, via Wikimedia Commons, Pile of Croissants By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
The food industry has exploited this knowledge to create products with the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that will make our body crave more of these foods.
This is the explanation of why you would find sugar as an ingredient in a can of soup.
Our palates (appreciation for taste and flavor) can become saturated with these ingredients. Too much salt, too much sugar or too much fat will make us react and not like the food. However, when the adequate amount of these ingredients are present, it can trigger a spiral of overeating.
This is why it is better to eat natural foods. Foods without too many ingredients. Fruits and vegetables in their natural state or with some good fats and a little salt are good for you.