American Morning

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July 8th, 2009
06:39 AM ET

Food rehab: Why we can't eat just one

All of us crave certain foods, chewy chocolate chip cookies, pizza, or a comfort food like mac and cheese. Or in my case all of the above. But why do we crave them? Why are they so irresistible? Even addictive?

Remember the Lay’s potato chip commercial, “Betcha can’t eat just one”? Turns out there’s scientific evidence our brains are being hijacked by food and we may be helpless. But there’s hope.  Dr. David Kessler, Former FDA Commissioner, has written a book, “The End of Overeating”, detailing why we are so addicted to food.and how to overcome this addiction, a sort of Food Rehabilitation.

Dr. Kessler told me food makers stimulate our desire to eat even when we’re full by combining fat,sugar, and salt in all kinds of different ways. He says, “add flavor, add texture, add temperature, add color and what do we end up with? One of the great public health epidemics of our time.” And there are other factors that go into why we can’t resist.

He goes on, “back 20 years ago, the average bite had about 20 chews. Today food goes down in one or two chews.It’s a wash. We get stimulated and we reach for more and more.”

In other words we just can’t help ourselves. Just ask four star chef Daniel Boulud, chef and owner of “Daniel” restaurant in New York City. He treated us to a tasting menu—a bite sized symphony of sweet, salty and fatty foods:

Amuses Bouche

Hand made Grissini with Olives

Chick Pea Hummus

Foie Gras Terrine With Bing Cherry Chutney

Fresh Almond, Purslane Salad

Sea salt and warm brioche toast

Tai Snapper Ceviche with Persian Cucumber

Shaved Radish, Tapioca Pearls, Dill Oil

Broiled Sea Scallop “Rosette”

Stewed Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Rice, Black Miso Sauce

Chorizo Stuffed Skate

Georgia Sweet Corn, Zucchini, Piquillo Pepper, Oregano Jus

Duo of Dry Aged Black Angus Beef

Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Carrot Gratin

Seared Rib Eye with Pommes Dauphine, Confit Shallot

Warm Guanaja Chocolate Coulant

Liquid Caramel, Fleur de Sel, Milk Sorbet



With every taste I found myself unable to stop eating. Boulud says, it’s all about the ingredients but sometimes you don’t even have to taste the food to know that you want it. "Sometimes, it's the eyes, you know. You cross the room with a beautiful soufflé or something and everybody's looking and they say, 'Ooh, I want that.'"

Why Boulud agrees with Kessler that portion control is so important….when it works... "We don't control how much you eat of it. We just control how much we give you. If you want more, that's out of my control."

Some Tips to help end overeating from Dr. Kessler:

-Have your meals at set time

-Choose foods that nurture you–not just satisfy you

-Try to find rewards in small amounts of foods

-Don't look at food as a reward

Filed under: Health
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Gerard Leary

    This guy is brilliant. People like foods that taste good! Who would have figured that out. Upon reflection I too find myself eating good tasting foods and eschewing stuff that tastes like crap. Seems my brain responds to good food by saying something like"Yeah Baby, that's good!" and responds to crappy food by sending a strong yuk signal. If you think, you may decide you like good food. The best thing you can do is to stop thinking and buy this guys book.

    October 26, 2009 at 7:17 pm |

    Its hard to argue with Dr. Kesslers conclusions. But it should be added that a regular walking program before and after a bag of potato chips will make amends for over active taste buds.

    July 8, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  3. Bob Dobolina

    Had dinner last night at a nice Italian restaurant. As is the norm in upscale places, the food arrived looking wonderful, but very small portions. I was ravenous so I was a bit disappointed, but by the end of a very leisurely meal I was stuffed. Eating slowly, enjoying the food and the conversation, makes all the difference.

    July 8, 2009 at 6:49 am |