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Hypereater? Problematic, but familiar.

April 20, 2009

I just came across this article about possible addiction-like behavior some people exhibit around high-fat and high-sugar food. You know, let me just quote this damn thing:

It’s not an addiction but it’s similar, and he’s far from alone. Kessler’s research suggests millions share what he calls “conditioned hypereating” — a willpower-sapping drive to eat high-fat, high-sugar foods even when they’re not hungry…

He calls the culprits foods “layered and loaded” with combinations of fat, sugar and salt — and often so processed that you don’t even have to chew much.

Ok, can I say that is uncomfortably familiar? I hate to admit this, but that sounds like exactly the kind of food I have the hardest time with. Making a concerted effort, through intuitive eating principles, to get past some of the psychological issues surrounding these types of foods helped immensely, but if I’m going to overeat or binge, it will always be on those types of foods.

However, this also sounds like a way of pathologizing very common behavior and then focusing only on fat people when it comes to moderating that behavior. I know thin people who eat a large portion of their daily calories from cookies and pastries and such, but they just tend to eat less calories.

So what’s a possible explanation?

At issue is how the brain becomes primed by different stimuli. Neuroscientists increasingly report that fat-and-sugar combinations in particular light up the brain’s dopamine pathway — its pleasure-sensing spot — the same pathway that conditions people to alcohol or drugs.

I’ll probably look at the book when it comes out. I do find this stuff kind of fascinating.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I made some cinnamon rolls that I can’t stop thinking about. :p

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2009 4:29 am

    Neuroscientists increasingly report that fat-and-sugar combinations light up the brain’s dopamine pathway — its pleasure-sensing spot — the same pathway that conditions people to alcohol or drugs.

    Indeed, why wouldn’t it? It’s the part of the brain that registers pleasure, whatever that pleasure is, that is how the brain functions.

    And when he talks about ‘retraining’ your brain to think, ‘I’ll hate myself if I eat that’.

    I would not advise anyone to ever do anything of the sort.

    • April 22, 2009 7:37 am

      I would not advise anyone to ever do anything of the sort.

      Yeah. There are ways to deal with less healthy or problematic food behaviors that don’t involve self-hate or seeing certain foods as the devil, but we don’t talk about those. Wouldn’t want people to have a healthy relationship with food that includes candy/cookies/etc… No fun in that, apparently.

      • April 23, 2009 12:12 am

        No fun in that, apparently


        I wonder if he has a clue how counterproductive his advice is, it’s the ignorance that is shocking.

        If people like him listened to what people like us who been through this kind of thing were saying, then our experiences could actually be made worthwhile, they could advance knowledge.

        Ignorance condemns society to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again; expecting something different to happen.

        Einstein’s definition of madness.

  2. April 23, 2009 10:24 am

    I read a fair share or weight loss blogs when I have the time, and it seems that the people who may succeed are the ones who manage to find or create healthy relationships with food, even “bad” food. It makes me cringe when I hear people trying to “eat 100% clean”. I eat as clean as I can, but I can’t possibly see how one can live life without sugar, white bread, fries, chcolate, whatever. If every time a person meets a cookie, they have to eat the whole box and then a pizza, they’re never going to make it. Unless one is a hermit, they will run into fatty yummy salty sweet piles of food. If you’re an 15 year old boy into sports, you can possibly eat all that that you want (for a few years). If you’re a middle aged woman with a tendency to put on weight, you should save it for special occasions. It may not seem fair, but I don’t see why it has to be an addiction. I don’t buy the food as addiction stuff. I suspect it’s psychological

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