Use Mindfulness To Counter Cravings

If you don’t know what “bliss point,” “sensory-specific satiety,” “mouth feel,” “perfect break point,” and “vanishing caloric density”  are then you should probably read the new book entitled “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” or at least read an excerpt in the intriguing article by the author, Michael Moss, in this week’s New York Times.

These are all terms widely used in the food industry to describe how food isscientifically constructed  to bring the “greatest eating pleasure” (in other words, the strongest craving).   Mr. Moss’s interviews with food industry insiders tell a story that appalls as much as the food addicts.  Yes, the food industry spends billions of dollars developing food that addicts you, designing psychologically-appealing products, and creating advertising that catches your attention—all in the ongoing campaign to keep you coming back for more.  That “coming back for more” has resulted in the alarming rates of obesity and the associated health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.  Basically, if you are eating processed food you should take note and beware.  This is not “real food” but a “food like substance” (as Michael Pollan would say,) and it is designed to set up cravings in your body. The limbic brain loves sugar, fat, and salt and the food industry knows it.  It isn’t your fault you crave their carefully constructed food.  It’s just the way we are designed.

In my estimation there are two solutions to this problem.  Number One: Don’t eat the stuff.  But, if you do, you can use mindfulness to fight the cravings. One of the exercises I have people in my mindful eating classes do is notice how long it takes a craving to stop.  See my blog post about taking the craving challenge. Eventually, according to research in Moss’s article, your taste buds will return to a normal level of sensitivity and a salt (or sugar or fat) habit can be broken. Number Two: if you must eat the stuff, please eat it mindfully.  You will begin to notice how nasty all the chemicals taste and eventually stop consuming it once and for all.

Another thing the food industry is banking on (literally) is everyone’s lack of time to fix their own food.  We have tremendously busy lives.  Busyness is as much of an epidemic as obesity.  While I can’t give you more time (sorry, we will never get more than 24 hours each day), I would like to suggest you search for ways of making time to do the most important things in life.  Eating REAL FOOD is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your family.

I recently conducted a survey of people who receive my blog, and I was surprised to discover what people wanted most was “healthy recipes.”  Ask and you shall receive.  Once a month I have decided to dedicate a blog piece on a “healthy fast food” so you will have more ideas about how to eat REAL FOOD with less time.  It’s my antidote to the fast food industry.  Stay tuned.