As major chocolate companies unashamedly offered chocolate with sea salt and other similar combinations, former F.D.A. chief David Kessler who dealt with the Tobacco Industry during his reign there has now uncovered the food industries' biggest secret in a new book:
“The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”
After his stint at the F.D.A. he was famously fired in 2007 from his $540,000-a-year post as dean of the Medical School at the University of California, San Francisco, as a result of questions he had raised about the institution’s financial accounting.
He may be luckier with his new book as it is already a New York Times Best Seller.
The Washington Post took up his story:
“‘Highly palatable’ foods -- those containing fat, sugar and salt -- stimulate the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center, he found. In time, the brain gets wired so that dopamine pathways light up at the mere suggestion of the food, such as driving past a fast-food restaurant, and the urge to eat the food grows insistent. Once the food is eaten, the brain releases opioids, which bring emotional relief. Together, dopamine and opioids create a pathway that can activate every time a person is reminded about the particular food. This happens regardless of whether the person is hungry.”
“Not everyone is vulnerable to ‘conditioned overeating’ -- Kessler estimates that about 15 percent of the population is not affected and says more research is needed to understand what makes them immune.”
85% is affected though!
Kessler offered his own cure:
“The key to stopping the cycle is to rewire the brain's response to food -- not easy in a culture where unhealthy food and snacks are cheap and plentiful, portions are huge and consumers are bombarded by advertising that links these foods to fun and good times, he said.”
“Deprivation only heightens the way the brain values the food, which is why dieting doesn't work, he said.”
“What's needed is a perceptual shift, Kessler said. ‘We did this with cigarettes,’ he said.”
“Kessler said he's made that shift in his own life, eating small portions of foods that contain fat, salt and sugar, part of a "food rehab" plan he suggests in the book. He has certain rules -- no French fries, ever -- that help him navigate through vulnerable moments.”
“He has embraced spinning -- the first time he has regularly exercised. ‘I hated physical activity, all of my life, mostly because I was fat and it was hard to do,’ he said. ‘But I just wanted to do something. I picked spinning because you can't fall off the bike.’
“Kessler's weight is relatively stable at 162 pounds. (At 5-foot-11, Kessler's weight has swung from 160 pounds to 230 pounds and back, many times over. He owns pants in sizes ranging from 34 to 42. ) But there's something else that's changed. As he has come to better understand himself, the food cravings and the resulting anguish he felt have subsided.”
"After 30 years, I'm at peace."
Watch out: Ice Cream too.