The End of Overeating by David A Kessler, MD is a book that examines why so many in our society are eating more than they need, both the psychological aspects of overeating as well as how the food industry actually creates processed food to make eating as much food in as short of an amount of time (often without using the mind) as possible.
The Food Industry and Overeating
The first portion of the book covers the food industry. It is explained how even a fast food chicken patty is perforated to both absorb as much of the artificial-flavor containing salt solution as possible, and to make it easier to chew and swallow which allows the consumer to eat it faster and consume more. Fat, salt, and sugar are the key players in the food industry, as seen with ice cream (fat and sugar), chips (fat and salt and the sugar being the refined carbohydrate), even the fast food hamburger (fat and salt in the bacon, cheese, and burger, sugar in the bun), Pizza (fat and salt in the cheese, salt and sugar in the sauce, sugar and salt in the crust).
Society and Over Eating
Next The End of Overeating talks about all the cultural ways that people prone to overeating are pushed right over the edge in this society. One of the biggest obstacles is that there is food everywhere – doughnuts in board rooms, candy on everyone’s desk, fast food on every corner, and if there isn’t food out and available, there is delicious-looking advertising of food everywhere!
Second, we’re eating all the time. At my house we recently broke out of this habit too- mainly for the reason that I was tired of wiping the table, cleaning hands and faces, and picking up crumbs every 20 minutes all.day.long. But in America it is acceptable and even normal to eat nonstop all day, and it’s usually not nutrient dense foods. Kessler pointed out that just a couple decades ago snacks were reserved only for children because their nutritional needs depended on it. Adults didn’t snack. Meals were eaten together, and cooked from scratch.
This constant eating contributes to what the book calls ‘priming’ – a little taste of something will then prime your brain to want more of it. So eating 5 M&Ms will actually cause most people to obsess on food, and either take an enormous amount of energy and willpower to avoid eating them or they will then give in and polish off the whole bag. This priming effect is why we start eating junk food, note that it doesn’t even really taste very good, yet continue to eat and eat. I believe it could also happen with whole foods; I personally don’t like to eat at all between meals because I know I don’t ever keep it to just a bite, and then I’m not hungry for the meal I just cooked! This also makes me question whether the typical diet advice of eating every 2-3 hours; 6 meals a day for adults, is actually helpful for preventing hunger, or does it just keep the dieter obsessed with food?
The following are some things I wanted to add; thoughts that were spurred by reading The End of Overeating.
Overeating and Nutrient Deprivation
This was talked about a bit in The End of Overeating, but I believe that a big part in America’s compulsion to overeat is that our bodies are starving for nutrients. I know that even now, after we’ve been eating mostly whole real foods for years, if I eat white-flour spaghetti (even with red sauce and lots of butter) for dinner, a couple hours later I want food, even if my stomach is physically full still. Also, if I let myself eat junk food in the afternoon, and then don’t want much good food for dinner- I start a cycle of craving sweets and refined carbs, not eating the good food at meals, and eating more and more sweets and refined carbohydrate.
One of My Favorite Nutrient Dense Meals:
Gluten and Milk Free, as those are common allergens
- 3 leaves of lettuce, as a wrap
- 6 ounce can of wild caught salmon or 6 ounces of pastured chicken
- 2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise made with olive oil
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, no additives including ‘natural flavors’
- One piece of fruit; banana, sliced apple, orange, etc. Not juice, real fruit.
- 1-1/2 cups tea, detox tea might be preferable as it will help with bile production and fat digestion- our brains need fat!
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk, full fat, no sugar added, stirred into the tea
Mix tuna or chicken and mayonnaise and mustard as tuna salad. Salt with unrefined sea salt to taste if needed. Wrap 1/3 in each lettuce leaves and eat as a wrap.
Is the Obesity Epidemic related to the Autism Epidemic?
The entire time I was reading this book, I saw similarities between ADD, Autism, OCD and… overeating. All through the book (which is written by a compulsive overeater who has used extreme self control to make healthy choices) I was noticing how similar the drive to eat when not hungry seemed to an autistic child’s drive to repetidly open and close doors, a person with obsessive complusive disorder’s compulsion to pull out hair, someone with ADD’s inability to stay on task and focused long enough to get the entire load of laundry folded and put away.
To others, ‘normal’ people, all these behaviors are all avoidable, but to someone with something (gut flora emitting toxins? Nutrient deficiencies caused by poor gut flora? Undigested proteins leaking through the gut wall and acting as opiates on the brain?) telling them to keep eating/open and close doors/pull hair/change to a different activity, it takes an extreme amount of concentration and willpower to complete what are usually normal tasks or avoid undesirable behavior.
What do you think? Do you see the similarities? Have you noticed that obesity and autism and behavior disorders are all skyrocketing at the same time? If you haven’t yet, you can read more about the gut-brain connection here.
Anyway, I throughly enjoyed this book and I think it was a really important read. You can buy The End of Overeating here.