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Why are certain foods irresistible?

This is a problem most of my patients speak about. They just crave certain foods and cannot avoid them with willpower. Let's look at the obvious. We need food to live and therefore our brains are programmed to enjoy it. We hear a dinner bell and our mouth waters. We smell our favorite dinner cooking and our mouth waters. We see food commercials in magazines and TV and our mouth waters. You get the picture. Our brain through years of reinforcement of eating food and being satisfied has made certain foods irresistable. Liking food is not only inate, but it is a learned behavior.

What are the biochemical pathways for this? Well simply put, sugars and fats stimulate dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain. These are hard to overcome. There are several ways to combat this phenomenon and learned behaviors:

1. Don't watch food shows on TV or just limit your television time due to the high proportion of commercials dedicated to food.

2. Avoid food with high sugar and fat content. Read nutrition labels.

3. Do not keep foods around the house that you know you have a hard time resisting and that you have a tendency to binge on. These include cookies that you buy for your children but you may really be buying for yourself!

4. Don't hang out in the kitchen or linger at the dinner table.

5. When you go shopping, have a specific list of foods to get, stick to it and don't go when you're hungry.

6. Pick foods on the perimeter of the market as they are usually not the highly processed sugary and fatty foods.

7. If you diet, keep it simple as the more food choices you include, the more you stimulate your brain and the more you will eat.

I hope this is gives you some things to think about as you pursue your weight management goals!

Good luck,
Dr. Padla