Stop eating! Just kidding, but really the answer is in your brain! It turns out, according to David A. Kessler, M.D., grad of Harvard Medical School, doctor, lawyer, medical school dean, not to mention the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under 2 presidents, and author of a new book, “What the hell! I’m Fat again!”,(sorry, that’s not exactly the title), Dr. Kessler’s fascinating new book is, “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite” (Rodale). (I like my title better).
You’ve gotta love this guy! Dr. Kessler was trying to find out why we overeat, and he wanted to know why he struggles with overeating himself, he says he has gained and lost his weight several times over and has suits of every size in his closet to prove it.
He wanted to find out what was in our food and why do we overeat? Why can’t we have the willpower to stop eating when we’re full and the fortitude to stay away from foods that aren’t good for our health. This required some heavy duty research, so Dr. David A. Kessler, M.D., lawyer and former commissioner of the FDA went dumpster diving!
Really, picture a dark and stormy night, the scene is the back of a fast food restaurant, where the garbage bins are located. A car pulls up next to the dumpster, a lone man gets out and immediately begins to pull packages from the dumpster, his flashlight beam scans the garbage not for food but for the labels and the information they reveal.
That’s right, Dr. Kessler was looking for information that the fast food restaurants did not want to reveal. Information on fat, sweet, and salt (sodium) content. Why? Because Dr. Kessler wanted to know the chemistry of food that affects the function of the brain, particularly that shut off valve in the brain that says, “Stop, you have had enough”…or “This food is not healthy for you, therefore do not eat it.”
Kessler was successful at the FDA in pushing for nutritional labels on foods sold through retail outlets, but he stopped short of requiring the same for restaurants. Yet if suppliers ship across state lines, the ingredients must be printed on the box. The boxes and their labels were what Kessler was after. And he found out a lot!
The labels showed the foods were packed with salt, fat and sugars, far beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Egg Rolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times.
The “egg rolls,” which are deep-fried in fat, contain chicken that has been chopped up like meatloaf to give it a “melt in the mouth” quality that also makes it faster to eat. By the time a diner has finished, she has consumed 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium. And that’s just an appetizer!
Dr. Kessler now has a surprising and worrying new theory about why so many of us are overweight.It is in his new book, “The End of Overeating,” and it is startling. Foods high in fat, salt and sugar alter the brain’s chemistry in ways that compel people to overeat. “Much of the scientific research around overeating has been physiology — what’s going on in our body,” he said. “The real question is what’s going on in our brain.”
As for me, knowing that fast food manufacturers are using salt, fat, and sweet to manipulate my brain into thinking “Eat More” leaves a bad taste in my mouth.