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America has become a food fun house of sugary, salty and fatty delights.
The ultimate question is: Do you feel happier when you eat this junk?
When we eat junk, the feelings we get are very momentary. We can create one more moment of good feeling but it never lasts, of course. In fact, the moment we're done eating the junk the good feelings fade.
It's very fleeting.
And this right here is the classic description of the body's reward system. The good feeling we get is very short lived. It's what makes the behavior reinforcing. Because it doesn't last, we want to do it again!
We have all been conditioned by food and the cues that remind us of that food. It focuses our attention, promotes anticipation and builds desire.
Large companies have done an incredible job designing foods that capture our attention. They absolutely know that sugar, salt and fat sell!
For 1000's of years human body weight stayed very stable. Millions of calories passed through our bodies, yet with rare exceptions our weight neither rose nor fell. A perfect biological system seemed to be at work.
Then in 1980 something changed. Our population was getting bigger.
In 1960, when weight was still relatively stable in America, women ages 20 - 29 averaged about 128 pounds. By 2000 - the average weight of women in that age group had reached 157!
A similar trend was apparent in 40 - 49 year olds. In 1960 the average was 142. In 2000 the average was 169!
We were entering our adult years at a significantly higher weight, reflecting the gains that had taken place during childhood and adolescence. And from age 20 - 40 many of us kept gaining. Rather than a few pounds, the average adult man was gaining more than a dozen pounds in those years.
While on average everyone was getting heavier, the heaviest people in the population were gaining disproportionately more weight than others.
Certainly food has become more readily available in the 1970's and 1980's. We have larger portion sizes, more chain restaurants, more local food places and a culture that promotes out-of-home eating.
But what's been driving us to overeat?
This is because eating certain foods (those that contain lots of sugar, salt and fat) makes us want to eat more of them, whether we're hungry or not.
The more sugar, salt and fat we eat - the more sugar, salt and fat we're going to want to eat!
It's no longer about hunger!
It's about 'rewarding' our body. The more we eat crap that contains that stuff - the more we're continuing to 'reward' the body and the more our body is going to crave that 'reward'.
Keep that in mind. Your perpetuating the problem. Kind of like giving money to a homeless person. 9 times out of 10 they're going to use it to buy alcohol.
Just like they need to be rehabilitated so do we. Like anything - the best way to start is to start small.
With your very next craving. Don't give in to it. Don't listen to it. Don't believe it.
Let your mind play tricks on you. Let your mind obsess over a certain piece of food. Laugh at it.
But don't give in.
Try brushing your teeth, eating fruit, drinking water, chewing gum or consuming yourself with a job or a hobby or a project!
One fight at a time you can break the cue, urge, craving, habit cycle that's oh so vicious.
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