You know the feeling: One salty crunch turns into 100, and suddenly you’re licking the cheese dust and wondering: What’s wrong with me?
Actually, it’s normal to feel like you can’t stop overeating certain things. Today’s hyperpalatable food is creating a modern-day food crisis—one that’s leaving us feeling sick, out of control, and constantly craving more.
Here’s how it works, plus 3 ways to overcome it.
It’s happened to us all.
After a frenzy of lustful grabbing and furious crunching, we find ourselves at the bottom of a jumbo bag of chips.
“How did that happen?” we ask fuzzily.
“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop?”
But, before going into full-fledged self-loathing mode, consider this.
Processed foods are scientifically engineered to be irresistible and easy to gobble up in large quantities. If you can’t stop, the chips are doing their job.
(In fact, someone at Frito-Lay probably got a promotion for that recipe.)
That’s why, in this article, we’ll explain exactly how junk food is designed to make us respond with compulsive, manic, gotta-have-more snack sessions.
Even better, we’ll arm you with three useful strategies for examining your relationship with processed food and taking control of overeating.
Because, if you feel out of control around certain foods, you’re not crazy.
Even healthy eaters feel out of control around food sometimes. Even if we value nutrition and want to take care of ourselves, some foods can make us feel… kinda possessed.
Know what I mean?
You show up to a potluck with quinoa salad goals and find yourself inhaling a plate of chips, cookies, and some chocolate-peanut-butter-marshmallow thing that some devil, um friend, made.
You reach into the freezer to have one spoonful of ice cream and suddenly you’re mining the caramel swirl, then the nut clusters, then the brownie chunks, and then… your spoon scrapes the bottom.
You just want a bite of your friend’s french fry, but you find yourself elbowing her out of the way so you can steal all the fries, plus the burger too.
Even with the best intentions, the pull of certain foods is so strong that it can leave us feeling powerless.
If you’ve felt this, you’re not alone (and you’re not broken).
Certain foods are actually designed to make us overeat.
If you’re overeating, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you or your willpower.
Here’s the truth: There’s a whole industry dedicated to creating food that’s hyperpalatable—food that’s so tasty it’s nearly irresistible.
Your body and brain are responding exactly as they’re supposed to. It’s supposed to feel almost unnatural to stop eating these foods!
But we’re not talking about food like celery sticks, whole brown rice, or baked salmon filets.
(How often do you hear yourself say, “I ate sooo much steamed asparagus! I just couldn’t stop myself!” That’s right. You’ve never heard yourself say that.)
We’re talking about processed foods.
Processed foods are foods that have been modified from their original, whole-food form in order to change their flavor, texture, or shelf-life. Often, they’re altered so that they hit as many pleasure centers as possible—from our brains to our mouths to our bellies