Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chips: How to eat just one (or two)

I read a fascinating article on Salon this morning about why food is so addictive. For the article, Why We Can't Eat Just One, Katherine Mieszkowski interviewed Dr. David Kessler, a San Francisco Bay Area pediatricion who has written a book titled The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

Dr. Kessler says that that it's not a simple lack of willpower that causes us to overeat. The brain, he says, creates strong neural pathways that make it nearly impossible to resist our cravings. Every time we face an addictive food -- mostly loaded with fat, sugar and salt -- we have an internal dialog that strengthens the pathways. Something like: "Yow. That would taste good. But, no, I shouldn't. But I really want it. Maybe just a little."

Add to that the stimulus that is created by alluring food packaging and advertising, restaurant decor, lighting and music, easy access on every corner, the linking of food and entertainment and you're battling an entire environment, not just a food. And most food, he says, is "adult baby food." It goes down so easy we chew only two or three times, gulp it down, and reach for the next chip.

Chips! Why did he have to mention them?? My one weakness. After reading Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think, I've adopted his suggestion that you set "food rules" and "food prohibitions" for yourself. Rules mean you regulate the addictive food in some way, prohibitions mean you can't eat it at all.

When it comes to chips, here are my rules. I can have chips, but I can't buy them. If I have chips, I can't have dip. (That makes me eat more, plus dip has mucho calories.) If I have dip, I have to dip with veggies. When I have chips, I can't drink anything. (Thirst makes me stop sooner.)

How about you? What rules or prohibitions help you curb your cravings?


  1. Please tell your readers to help people with diabetes using carb restriction by signing the Metabolism Society's petition to the NIH. Here's the link:

    Thank so much!

  2. I am actually reading that guy's book, and this is a good synopsis of what he says.

    I started eating sunflower seeds a few weeks ago because they were healthier than what I was eating and because they take a long time to eat. But last night I had to take them back in the house and make a rule that I could only take pre-portioned amounts of sunflower seeds in the car with me. I got a little too efficient at shelling the little seeds!

  3. I'm a fan of pine nuts, but they're waaaay too expensive to put on my salads now. So I've switched to sunflower seeds... but you're right... you can easily eat far more of them than you intend!