The Bliss Point: The Food Industry’s Trick to Keep You Wanting More

June 11, 2021

By

Culina Health

 

 

Have you ever enjoyed a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and suddenly hit the bottom of the container without feeling satisfied?  While overeating and mindless eating can happen for a variety of reasons, many of the ultra-processed foods we eat are actually engineered to be consumed this way. 

 

 

What is the bliss point?

Market researcher and psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz coined the term “the bliss point” while conducting studies for the food industry. His research determined that just the right combination of sugar, salt, and fat in food triggers our brain’s reward system, disrupting our body’s natural “hey, you’re full” mechanism. Even foods branded as “healthy” can be engineered this way. This keeps us returning for more, which pads the pockets of the food manufacturing execs.

While profit margins are high, this can be detrimental to our health, given many of these foods have been linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome. Awareness of the science behind what’s happening to our taste buds and brains when eating these foods can help us make informed decisions while cruising the aisles at the grocery store. 

So what can you do to avoid falling into the Bliss Point trap while still enjoying your favorite snack foods and desserts? Here are a few quick tips for setting yourself up for a win against a billion-dollar industry that might not always have your best interest in mind:

 

1. Minimize the amount of ultra-processed foods you eat

Reduce the time you spend in the aisles of the grocery store. This is where ultra-processed foods can be found, and they are often packaged just the right way to make you go, “ooooh, what’s that?”. Instead, aim to spend more time shopping on the outskirts of the store where the fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and non-dairy products are located. The frozen section is also a great place to find affordable fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish–Keep an eye on added ingredients like salt and sugar.

 

2. Check out the nutrition facts label

When you flip over the package of your go-to snack, check out the Nutrition Facts label. Key things to be mindful of are saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. For reference, we want to aim for the following:

  • <10% of our calories come from saturated fat each day
  • <25 grams of added sugar per day for women, <36 grams of added sugar for men
  • <2300 mg of sodium per day

Don’t forget to consider the serving size. If there are 2 grams of saturated fat, 14 grams of added sugar, and 135 milligrams of sodium in a serving of 3 cookies, and you eat 6, you will have consumed 28 grams of added sugar. 

3. Be aware of portions

Aim to eat 3 balanced meals containing protein, fat, and high-fiber carbs throughout the day to reduce grazing on easy-to-grab ultra-processed foods.

If you’re buying a big bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, measure out 1-2 servings. The serving is often smaller than you’d expect.

When you’re in the mood for ice cream or chips, go to the local ice cream shop and get 1 scoop or buy the individual bags at the corner store for no-brainer portion management.

 

4. Practice mindful eating

Ever notice how quickly you can eat a pint of ice cream or a full package of candy while watching tv? Our brains tend to go on autopilot. Mindful eating can help us enjoy the foods we love even more by allowing us to savor each bite’s flavor and texture. This not only makes eating more enjoyable. It also helps your body better recognize when you’re full and satisfied!

 

Have more questions about nutrition? At Culina Health, we provide personalized nutrition care with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist that’s covered by insurance. Schedule a free intro call to get started!

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or application is intended for reference and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately qualified and licensed medical services provider.

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