- 1 New Information Can Lead to Different Decisions
- 2 If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me
- 3 It’s Not Crazy When Someone Really Is Out To Get You
- 4 Food Engineering: Finding the Bliss Point
- 5 Why are Processed Foods Bad?
- 6 How Do Taste Buds Work?
- 7 Some Really Good News
- 8 A Personal Experience
- 9 The Heart of the Matter
New Information Can Lead to Different Decisions
If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me
Do you believe in the beauty of freedom and responsibility, as well as the benefits and consequences inextricably tied to our choices? I do.
Which is why it was off-putting when I’d hear a pitch that claimed, “If you are overweight, it is not your fault.” Their soft approach made me wonder what they were selling and how they justified that statement.
Well, I now have a different take on that. Because there are powerful forces at work which seek to appeal to various human impulses and influence us based on how we are wired. It is a process engineered to manipulate us in ways we are unaware. Thus, we are susceptible and less at fault than it might seem.
It’s Not Crazy When Someone Really Is Out To Get You
Food Engineering: Finding the Bliss Point
The Holy Trinity of Processed Foods
- The bliss point for sugar
- The flavor burst for salt
Part of what makes finding this just right combination is based on two important physiological responses: Sensory Specific Satiety, and Vanishing Caloric Density.
Once we reach a certain point while eating, the feeling of satisfaction triggers our brain that it’s time to stop. This also happens if a particular food has an overriding flavor that is very appealing at the outset. The very flavors that have this immediate appeal also get tiresome quickly. Known as Sensory Specific Satiety, it is something which manufacturers want to avoid. Companies work hard to ensure flavors are well blended and that no one flavor is too dominant.
Vanishing Caloric Density
Vanishing Caloric Density relates to foods that have a dissolve in your mouth effect. The experience tells the brain that the food just disappeared. This, in turn, signals that the calories have vanished along with it. Therefore, we can just keep eating. Heavily processed foods which contain a lot of air and salt achieve this very effectively.
The goal, whether sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy, is to engineer foods so that they stimulate our “bliss point.” This will keep us eating and buying, buying and eating.
Why are Processed Foods Bad?
Companies engineer highly processed foods to be able to sit on store and pantry shelves for months at a time. Their focus is not on nutritional value. Their focus is on:
- flavor enhancers (usually artificial)
- attractive, colorful cardboard boxes and
- sleek plastic packaging
How Do Taste Buds Work?
Our taste buds are remarkable receptors, and they indicate to our brain what we’re tasting in our mouths. They identify and communicate specific chemicals in foods, and analyze the overall flavor profile. Our taste buds then relay signals to our brain indicating this.
Taste buds can identify five types of taste:
- savory (also known as umami)
When we eat a lot of salty foods or a lot of sugar, we get to the point where we want our foods even saltier or sweeter. We acclimate and then increase our intake.
Food manufacturers often put salt on the outside of the food so that it is the first taste we perceive.
It can be especially challenging when we decide to change our eating habits and switch from heavily processed foods to cleaner, healthier ones. We may not experience that artificially engineered flavor burst with fresher, healthier foods right away. Especially if we have been eating a lot of processed foods recently. But that is quite alright.
Some Really Good News
The really good news is that just like other cells in our body, our taste buds die and regenerate. This happens about every two weeks. After age 40 or so, our taste buds begin to grow back more slowly, and not everyone that dies will be replaced (meaning that as we age, we have fewer taste buds.)