Over ninety percent of the foods available in our nation’s grocery stores could be considered heavily processed. Our food supply has become so distorted that the idea of avoiding foods that are made in a manufacturing plant seems nearly impossible. Processed foods are the creation of food chemists- not chefs. Becoming a food chemist requires a college degree as well as a significant amount of training afterward. Food chemists sit around all day in their laboratory and experiment with combinations of flours, oils, sugars, flavorings, and sweeteners to create “foodstuff” that is relatively non-perishable, irresistible, and inexpensive to make. They then take their creations and test them against a focus group to ensure that everyone finds their foods as irresistible as possible. If the focus group isn’t instantly hooked, it’s back to the lab to adjust it until they create something that we love so much that we can’t stop eating it until we develop abdominal pain and nausea.
As a result of their brilliant food chemistry, we as a nation have become completely addicted to processed foods. These foods trigger the pleasure centers of our brain the same way that alcohol, drugs, and tobacco do. As a result, we become completely addicted. Food addictions are very real and cause us to eat in the absence of hunger. If you gain a few pounds and shift toward the overfed side of your metabolic thermostat, you will have less hunger and less of a desire to eat. However, if you are addicted to certain high calorie foods, you will eat even when you are not hungry. Food addictions derail the overfed side of your metabolic thermostat; sabotaging your body’s attempts to maintain a stable weight. The only way to combat food addictions is to treat them the same way that we treat addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs and to enforce avoiding these substances altogether.