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Why Snack Food Is Addictive: The Grand Unified Theory of Snack Appeal
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April 24, 2012
1:48 am
eddie watts

here is their website

bright and colourful!

April 25, 2012
2:32 pm
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February 22, 2010
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I hope your co-workers found the article illuminating!  Here's another of my favorite articles on that subject.


August 29, 2012
7:43 am

Belike "food reward" would be better named "non food reward"?

August 30, 2012
10:45 pm
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February 22, 2010
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That's certainly closer to the truth!  It's very difficult to overeat real food.

(Although, as I point out in my epic series Why Are We Hungry?, "reward" is not a property of food at all…it's a subjective property we assign to food based on our own nutritional and metabolic state.  And now that AHS 2012 is over, I'll be continuing to explore the science of hunger in detail.)


December 14, 2012
1:55 pm

Excellent article! I have been suspicious about junk food for a while and most of the key points in this article matches with my thoughts.

I think this article drives us back to the starting point: Start from the fundamentals -- biochemistry (need it in order to understand how our bodies handle nutrition) and nutritional composition (need it in order to understand what contains what and by how much). The market-scientific aspect of commercial food production do not make sense until we become aware of the fundamentals.

December 14, 2012
2:44 pm

Very good article there! I knew about the fat-sweet hypothesis, but some of it has shed new light, especially that nutrient-deficiency study!

One thing I WOULD add onto it, however, is that modern hunter-gatherers are frequent snackers. If they're out and about, tracking, gathering, checking snares or moving camp; they'll be picking berries off bushes and insects out of the grass and popping them into their mouths as they go. However (in the tribes that do this and during the seasons they do): their meals are FAR smaller than a modern human's (think: fistful of meat, piece of fruit) and they may only have a meal a day. When they snack, it's one or two berries or a locust. Modern humans, by comparison, eat HUGE meals, three to four times a day and, when they snack, they finish the bag/box.
Hunter-Gatherer: 5 nuts, four locusts, an earthworm, one meal of a fistful of meat, one meal of crushed fruit and nuts.
Modern human: a bowful of kcal-dense, sugary grain, a 10oz steak with chips, a large sandwich with mayonnaise, eggs, ham, cheese and some salad, two packets of crisps.
Basically: the easy availability of food is ruining what may have been a natural instinct (the odd snack when out and about).

I've started incorporating this on my "rest days" and it works wonders. I just have one medium (chicken thigh, 400g mixed veg) or two small meals** (100g lamb chump chop with all the fat, a piece of fruit) and then nibble here and there. Not continual snacking, mind. Just every few hours I'll get up and have four hazelnuts, or 5g of butter, or a few grams of 81% chocolate, or a bite of apple. Then, I'll leave it. It seems to keep my body happy enough. 🙂

**My meal sizes are based on kcal-density and availability of fats and micronutrients, not actual size on the plate! So a huge salad, if very leafy, not very varied, with a few nuts and berries, but no animal produce, would be a "small" meal, but 2x100g lamb chops and three eggs are a "large" one!

May 28, 2013
11:31 am
Tracy Kolenchuk

I do wonder sometimes, if it is possible to produce a 'healthy' snack food. I know there are lots of snack foods that claim to be healthy - but I haven't seen a processed food that can actually support the claim. It's an interesting challenge, we could take some of the goals from your list,
- It would be made of cheap ingredients, allowing a high profit margin.
- It would be shelf-stable and require no preparation
- It would concentrate the tastes we've evolved to enjoy far beyond their natural amounts
- No matter how much you ate, you would never be satisfied

and add one other qualifier:
- it must not contain ingredients that are toxic, or unhealthy even when consumed in large quantities over a long period of time (decades).

It doesn't need to be very nutritious, because we don't make it our meal (snack by definition), although a bit of nutrition would add value - as long as it was not the fake nutrition our scientists call 'calories'.

Are there any snack foods that fit the criteria? Would it be possible to design some? Would they sell? Would the public believe they are 'healthier' in the face of so much conflicting evidence from corporations?

to your health, tracy

June 10, 2013
1:16 am
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February 22, 2010
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Rice cakes are a snack food that is nutritionally empty but not actively toxic.

However, I feel the act of snacking itself is metabolically detrimental for other reasons: eating carbohydrate in the absence of complete protein and other nutrients will leave you both hungry and gaining weight.  Snacking on rice cakes, banana chips fried in coconut oil, or other non-toxic snacks, falls into the "less bad but still bad" category.  To me, anything nutritionally incomplete should be eaten as a dessert if it's eaten at all.


June 10, 2014
8:24 pm

Since puberty, I have rarely been able to eat starchy carbohydrates in moderation. Even when combined with a plate of protein, and veggies. Wheat and sugar are the most problematic for me. "Healthy" carbs such as yams, brown rice, new potatoes, quinoa, OG corn tortillas are all still binge-triggering foods/and or hard to control portions. By body is just very sensitive to carbohydrates. My weight composition also changes when I eat them regularly: for years I struggled with a poofy, bloated stomach, and easily put weight on in my face, mid section and arms. Not attractive! So the paleo approach has been the best way to go for me. I am fine with moderate consumption of simple sugars from fruits and veggies. And I only eat organic meat now.

June 23, 2014
3:50 am
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February 22, 2010
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You're not the only one to report that carbohydrates trigger binges for you: it's reasonably common, particularly among people with weight problems, and especially amongst the weight-reduced. I suspect metabolic flexibility may play a role here, but I don't know for sure: meanwhile, avoidance is a perfectly reasonable tactic, and strict paleo is an excellent solution that also solves many other problems. Thank you for sharing your experiences!


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