Most of us won't take a big bag of apples and eat the whole thing, but a big tube of Pringles.... that's a different story. Why are some foods just so moreish? It's all about something called the "bliss point" and the multi-billion dollar food industry knows just how to hit it.
The bliss point of processed foods is the point where food reaches the level of being as delicious as possible, leaving you still wanting more. To take it back to the fruit example, apples will end up being sweet enough at some point then we will feel satisfied and stop eating them. With heavily processed junk food, we never really hit that fully satisfied moment and crave always crave more. How do food scientists formulate the foods we'll like the most? The Pringles advertising slogan was once "once you pop, you can't stop"! You can't just have 2 or 3 and feel satisfied because your brain subconsciously screams out for more.
The bliss point uses a ratio of the three things our bodies love to eat: fat, sugar and salt. Natural foods also have these three components but usually never in the perfect bliss point ratio. The fat:sugar ratio is particularly important. In a rat study, 3 groups were given:
- Unlimited access to a high fat food source.
- Unlimited access to a high sugar food source.
- Unlimited access to a 50/50 sugar and fat food source.
The rats eating 1. and 2. gorged and then quickly became satisfied. The rats in 3. gorged on the cheesecake style food and could not stop, they quickly became huge whilst the other groups stayed pretty trim.
A big tube of Pringles (150g) will hit you with 800 calories and contain around 50g of fat (mostly horrid PUFAs) and 80g of simple carbs and sugar. A big tube also has about 2g of refined salt.