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:
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