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The End of Overeating — Book Review

Recently, I crossed something off of my bucket list…

I tried the Dorito Locos Taco at Taco Bell.

As a taco aficionado, I gotta say it was amazing. In fact, it was really hard to stop eating! When I was talking to Adam (my health coach) about this he was telling me how food like this is engineered to be addicting. The combo of salt, sugar and fat can override our brains ability to regulate itself. Science.

Taco Shirt Doritos Locos Taco

Have you ever noticed how you can stop eating a bowl of veggies but it’s much harder to stop eating chips or cookies?

Adam recommended the book The End of Overeating to me – because I couldn’t get over how hard it was to stop eating the Dorito Locos Taco. The book is all about why food is so hard to resist. It’s also a fascinating look into how restaurant chains (like Taco Bell) create food that is as tasty and as addictive as possible.

The End of Overeating Book Cover

Here are some of the nuggets (ha!) I got from it:

  • Before you eat, ask yourself, “Am I going to feel better after I eat this? Am I going to be satisfied.”
  • Fat and sugar levels both influence preference. Sugar, salt and fat are a killer combo.
  • A bowl of M&Ms can be reinforcing before you touch a single one.
  • Location is also a potent cue.
  • Rats could eat as much chocolate as they wanted. Then they offered the rats the choice between a banana or chocolate. The rats chose the banana because of the novelty.
  • We have a powerful connection and association between food and memories. It’s undeniable. Just ask people what they did on September 10, 2001. The food industry sells a similar emotional connection.
  • We tend to top off an excessive meal with an indulgent dessert. It’s the additive effects of an agreeable flavor combination.
  • A cookie also needs to look like a cookie regardless of health. How the mind sees food is very important. Consistency in food (appearance, taste, smell, etc) is important for sensory impact.
  • Highly rewarding food becomes reinforcing. It makes us feel better, motivates us to return and do work to feel better again.
  • Chronic exposure to highly palatable foods changes our brains, it conditions us to seek continued stimulation. This creates hypereating.
  • We can suppress thoughts only for short periods of time. When we actively try to avoid thinking about something, we start to focus and obsess over it. Don’t think about a white panda.
  • Plan out your behavior to avoid old cues. Drive a new way to work. Replace old interactions with completely new ones.
  • Having someone around who can help you recognize and avoid cues and acknowledge your success makes the process easier. Bring people around you who can support you and make it easy to form new habits.
  • People think they are more full if they believe what they ate was an entree instead of an appetizer.
  • Protein empties from stomach at 4 calories a minute, sugars are 10 calories a minute, fat is 2 calories a minute. Fat tricks you though cause it processes the satiety signal slowly. Hence fats aren’t bad in moderation. The longer it takes to leave stomach the more full you feel. High fiber foods are good because they assimilate the body slowly too: brown rice, etc instead of white counterparts who get processed more quickly.
  • Basic formula: In nature foods have high-fiber and protein with small amounts of fat.
  • Build a food plan that can last a lifetime and is around your own preferences.
  • Refuse / discard things you can’t control. Limit your exposure to things that trigger an eating cue. Have alternatives. Distract yourself with other things. “Change the channel.”

Adam also taught me to rate my eating on a scale from 1 to 5. I do this during and after meals and it helps me be more aware and discover if I’m really hungry or just eating for the sake of eating.

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22 responses to “The End of Overeating — Book Review”

Ronnie Christopher
January 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

I’m currently doing the ‘Daniel Fast’, 21 days of no meat, dairy, alcohol or bread. Reading labels has made me more aware of what I have been eating all these years.

Mara Richard
December 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I’m already a gluten free vegetarian by circumstance, so somewhat already predisposed to ending up eating more vegetables and fewer carbs than most (although, keep in mind, french fries, potato chips, chocolate, ice cream, cheez wiz, all are gluten free and vegetarian…. so it’s not like I’m automatically locked in a health box, I still need to make choices…)

I’ve found it’s key to make more of your food yourself, so you know how much of any ingredient are in your food, and then you can cut down and amend ingredients as necessary (use a bit less oil in a saute, use half the sugar in a cookie recipe, or add many more vegetables to a pasta/rice/anything).

Also, pick the foods that you really love and try to make them a bit healthier so when you do want to eat them, they’re still supporting your health goals, but still what you crave and want to eat – I love pizza, so I’ve figured out how to make my own gluten free crust and I add flax seeds, chia seeds, even frozen crunched up spinach to the crust mix that I buy and then I top it with everything I love and want anyway – It’s a much more filling crust so I eat less of it, and it’s much healthier, but I didn’t decide to “do pizza without cheese” (why, it’s awful – the point of pizza is the cheese…) to try to be healthier about it.

If you’re as conscious and realistic as possible about what you’re eating, you’ll generally want to make healthier choices and you’ll feel empowered rather than punished by them.

I’m not sure how many pounds I’ve lost over the past five years since my celiac diagnosis, but I know that I never have to consciously diet, I love what I eat, and I feel really great and that seems to be more the point than knowing what number is on a scale…

December 19, 2013 at 4:05 am

great video (90mins but worth it, watch right through) on sugar, specifically fructose but the effect it has in all foods now and the biochemistry of how our body (fails to) process it and basically treats it like a poison with nearly all the same effects on our body as ethanol.

Martin Messier
December 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Hey Noah,

You wrote:
“We tend to top off an excessive meal with an indulgent dessert. It’s the additive effects of an agreeable flavor combination.”

I discovered two years ago that sugar cravings are nothing other than trying to compensate for excess salt in the food we eat. Every time I wipe salt out of my diet, sugar cravings go away. It’s a taste issue, nothing more.

December 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

Intermittent fasting is why I have the insulin of a newborn. Been doing it since 2005 thanks to Art deVany.

December 10, 2013 at 9:15 am

You know, this guy does look a little like Noah:

“Man armed with sword demands free tacos”

December 10, 2013 at 6:10 am

Guys, you will really become more about about the food industry and the illusions from the supermarket, as well as how our brain is fooled by the stimulation of our sensory receptors when it comes to the food industry.

Charles Duhigg in his NY Times best seller The Power of Habit teaches us how to do it. I read the book 3 times. Let me know if you need help 🙂

Noah, very good article! Keep it up man!

Leo Neave
December 9, 2013 at 7:21 am

Something that helped me was moving myself out of a rut in one part of my life.

I was working somewher that did not let me grow as a person and by finding something, my mood completely changed. The change in career helped me form a new diet, internalise new routines and feel better as a whole.

It doesn’t always have to be a giant leap that changes who you are. Allow the tiny steps to progress you. Before you realise, those tiny steps have made a marathon of change.

Réshanda Billy
December 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

The absence of what was the biggest stressor in my life. Getting rid of that helped me to get a handle on emotional eating which was sabotaging any efforts on my part to eat healthy.

December 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

Intermittent fasting (eat only between noon and 8pm). No bread, pasta, sugar, etc. Other carbs only after working out. Pig out on Saturdays.

December 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Hey Noah,

great post about food addiction and overeating. I think it’s a severe problem, especially in the parts of the world, where a real big food industry makes a lot of money with that stuff. Also I think overeating palatable foods is something everybody already experienced and can relate to…

The one point you mentioned about having friends around to support you is something I totally agree on.
About one and a half year ago, I started to go to the gym more often and to try out some new ways to stay healthy by sticking to a more protein and fat based diet… I convinced a friend to do the same and so we started to experiment with different types of diets (slow carb, cyclic ketogenic, carb back loading,…) and it is just way more easy to stick to something if you have somebody “kicking your ass”, especially if you get weak…

oh, and the one thing that really helped and got me started in getting a more healthy lifestyle was getting a dog. I feel it’s a lot easier to stay strong on something when you do it for others you love / feel responsible for. So as I got my dog, I knew he needed some exercise. After some weeks of being outside everyday several times to walk the dog (even at -4° F at wintertime), I started to feel stronger, better and more healthy. I had a real good feedback about exercise and having walks, etc., and that’s what it all started with…

And even though I stick to my diet most of the time, I have some cheat days as we’ll, so I wouldn’t mind taking the taco 😉

Christine Chang
December 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Nuggets. Hee hee.

December 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

I stopped going halfway.

I used to tell myself, “Moderation is key. Don’t go crazy. Just try to be somewhat healthy.” Next thing I’d be supersizing my Big Mac combo.

Now I have strict rules. No exceptions. Surprisingly, it makes them easier to follow and there’s no room to bullshit myself.

It’s not hard to eat healthy. It’s hard to consistently have to make the tough decision to eat healthy. So make the decision once and forget about it.

Noah Kagan
December 7, 2013 at 8:59 am

What kind of rules do you have?

December 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

I lost about 25 pounds in the 9 months loosely following Tim Ferriss book the 4 Hour Body. (I just turned 43 btw)

I gave up any wheat foods(bread,pasta), fruit, dairy, & Coffeemate Flavored creamers!…the only exceptions to that were some beers during the week and on Sundays I eat anything(aka Cheat Day)

Pea Protein shake every morning(doesn’t bother my stomach like other proteins) with Almond Milk.

I was using Agave to help ween of the sugar but pretty much don’t use that anymore.

My workouts were light including some bike riding and light dumbbell works outs…no crossfitting or anything more extreme like that.

I run so I drink plenty of good beer and we also eat a lot of brisket so its not like I’m suffering!

I’m trying to lose another 9 or 10 pounds so I may get a little stricter with the beer for a few weeks.

I love reading about this stuff so I will check out the book you mentioned too.

And if I happen to win, can i substitute for a Rudy’s brisket breakfast taco? 😉

Noah Kagan
December 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Taco is yours. Email me your fav taco place:)

December 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

I dislike taco 😉

El healthy taco
December 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

This comment will give someone a taco

December 6, 2013 at 9:10 am

Having my kid prompted me to start living healthier and being more active.

Sol Orwell
December 6, 2013 at 9:08 am

“Protein empties from stomach at 4 calories a minute, sugars are 10 calories a minute, fat is 2 calories a minute.” – what?? It’s a classic “doesn’t really matter” stat.

It’s akin to how people measure MPS (muscle protein synthesis), when really they want to measure “does it make my muscles bigger?”

So nevermind how fast calories empty a stomach. There are far too many hormones involved with satiety to focus on that one little state. Here’s a useful link:

December 6, 2013 at 8:56 am

Learning to eat more slowly and thoughtfully–at the strong encouragement of my wife.

Nina Mehta
December 6, 2013 at 8:53 am

I posted this in my Taco Bell Aficionados Facebook group. We shall see what they think.

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