Ever wondered why one Dorito is never enough?
Could it be lack of willpower? Or maybe there’s something more complicated going on inside your body?
What if I told you that there is a physiological reason why you turn into the cookie monster despite your best effort to stay away from delicious, but not-so-nutritious food?
If it’s not willpower, then what is causing this uncontrollable consumption of unhealthy food?
What is artificial flavouring? They are chemicals that are placed into pretty much all processed food, to trick our bodies into thinking that we are consuming a highly nutritious food, when in fact we are not.
Artificial flavouring makes us eat foods we know we should resist.
Let me tell you a story about how artificial flavouring transformed the humble corn chip into the Doritos we all have trouble resisting today.
This story begins when a marketing executive from the 60s (think Don Draper from Mad Men) wanted to make the tortilla chip the next big thing in snack food.
Hence, Doritos were born.
The original Doritos tasted exactly like a traditional tortilla chip that you would have with nachos, or the hard tortilla shell of a taco.
Despite mass marketing techniques backed by big money, Doritos sales didn’t take off.
What was going on?
The problem was, plain tortilla chips don’t taste all that great when served without all the extra goodies you would find inside a taco, like the salsa, the cheese, the guacamole and the refried beans.
But then the clever Marketing Executive had an idea.
What if we could make the tortilla chip taste like you’re eating an actual taco or an entire bowl of nachos?
With some crafty lab work, the development of artificial flavouring was created, making the humble corn chip into a taste sensation!
This story has been extensively characterised by Mark Schatzker in his highly acclaimed booked “The Dorito Effect”.
Let’s continue with the taco analogy. I don’t know about you, but when I eat a taco I’m struggling to eat more then may be 3 before I start to feel very full, and this is when I’m feeling particular hungry!
That’s because the signals (hormones) in our body are telling us that we have consumed enough nutrients, and our hormones send the signal to our brain to tell us that we are full and we can stop eating.
However, when we eat a packet of Doritos that contain artificial flavouring that makes them taste like a taco, your body gets the signal that you are consuming a nutrient-dense food. However, the reality is you’re actually eating something that doesn’t contain much in the way of nutrients at all, so you don’t receive any signal to stop eating. Instead, you continue to eat and eat and eat that packet of Doritos or the tub of ice cream.
Artificial flavours trick our bodies into thinking that we’re eating something highly nutritious, when in fact we’re not, so we don’t get the signal to stop eating.
Artificial flavouring makes food taste more nutritious then it actually is.
This stops us from getting the signal to stop eating (we don’t feel the sensation of being full).
So which foods contain artificial flavouring?
Anything that comes in a packet
This is why we believe that these foods taste sooooo good.
But there’s more to this story.
While processed food and artificial flavouring has become more readily available and more irresistible, REAL FOOD, has become less tasty!
When your grandparents tell you that tomatoes just don’t taste the way they used to, this is absolutely true!
How has this happened?
Mass agriculture, largely driven by the large supermarket chains, has been breeding crops to yield more fruit, with longer shelf life, rather then selecting for sweeter, more flavoursome yields.
It’s not your imagination when you think that your home grown peaches and apricots have more flavour then anything you can buy at the store, or even at a farmers market.
The same can be applied to the breeding of cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. Livestock are bred so the animals have desirable farming attributes. Chickens are so much bigger now, they reach maturity much earlier and their meat tastes more bland than ever!
What we have going on in our modern world is this unfortunate situation where real food is becoming less appealing and processed food is becoming more irresistible.
This is all driven by the desire for big profits by large supermarket chains.
But there is hope!
Let’s think of processed food (that contains artificial flavouring) like an Ecstasy Pill.
Processed food is stimulating our brain to artificial heights that no natural flavouring can take us to, much like the artificial high a raver may experience after popping an Ecstasy pill.
This “high” is highly addictive, but not at all satisfying or healthy.
What can we do?
Avoid processed foods. Buy locally grown produce, or even better grow your own food at home.
Within a few weeks of eliminating processed foods, you will be amazed at how much flavour you will start to taste in your home-prepared meals, and how satisfying eating real food can be.
I guarantee that the satisfying feeling you will experience when eating real food will definitely out way the instant gratification you feel after eating processed food.
I’ll admit it, avoiding artificial flavours is tough. They are everywhere!
But one of the key aspects of sticking to healthy eating is to enjoy what you eat, and ultimately real food will always come out a winner over anything artificial you put into your body.
Remember, it’s not your fault that ice cream, KFC and potato chips taste so amazing.
It’s not your willpower that is letting you down.
Artificial flavouring can trick your body into thinking that you’re consuming a nutritious meal.
I’ll be delving into artificial flavours in more detail at Nourish & Lift’s next Health and Nutrition Workshop on Sunday 26 Feb @ 10:30.
For more info on the workshop, head to the workshop page or shoot me a PM.
Nourish & Lift – empowering you to be the healthiest, happiest you!
Sarah has a PhD in cell biology and is a certified Primal Health Coach. She has attained her CrossFit Level 1 and lives what she teaches. The concepts behind Nourish & Lift are based on scientifically sound principles. Nourish & Lift’s philosophy is about making sustainable lifestyle changes. You’re not alone, let’s do this together.