I came across this article about food ‘Bliss-points’ recently, which really reconfirmed this to me. Here’s an extract:
“The bliss point is an industry reference to the perfect amount of sugar, salt, flour, and fat in products that will get us to not just like those products, but to want more and more,” Michael Moss, author of Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us”.
It seems that manufactured food is made by real life Willy Wonkas, who tinker with precise amounts of ingredients to send us into delirium. When the right combinations are achieved, a ‘bliss point’ is reached, making products irresistible. And an ever-growing number of us is starting to resemble Augustus Gloop.
The problem is that the allure Moss refers to burns brightest when salt, sugar and fat are combined (the latter two, it should be noted, rarely mix to notable levels in nature). “You don’t get too much of any ingredient. If you get too much of one, your brain goes ‘Woah! I think you’ve had enough of that’. They pay careful attention to balancing out all their ingredients, but especially salt, sugar and fat.”
I strongly wish to avoid going down the route of demonising food or food manufacturers in my desire to help people recover from their food issues. However, reading an extract like this does lead me to feel that viewing certain foods as a moreish drug on the body of an overeater is not far from truth.
So how can this paradox be reconciled, where we recognise that certain foods are manufactured especially to get us hooked, while remaining in a place of self-gentleness and self-acceptance if we indulge in such foods in full awareness of their addictive quality?
What I’m in interested in is reducing rather than increasing the amount we criticise ourselves for our food choices no matter what we learn about good nutrition and healthy eating. Can we use information about healthy eating to inspire rather than shame ourselves?
I believe that the key to this conundrum in our recovery from food issues is this: remembering that the most toxic element we can take in – more toxic than any food substance or food-combination – is self-shaming. Criticising ourselves if we are deviate from our healthy intentions generates shame in our system which further prolongs and quickens our compulsive food cycle.
I believe that the ultimate reason a part of us reaches for the pleasurable hit of a food ‘bliss point’ is always essentially the same: a suffering and vulnerable part of us is carrying burdens of emotions like shame, fear, and worthlessness. A moment of bliss is a soothing distraction from this heavy load which makes complete sense.
Breathe deeply through the urge to beat yourself up for seeking food ‘bliss’. See if this self-critical part of you would be willing to relax, just for today. This will slow the compulsive cycle of ‘bliss-shaming-shame’ … and there’s a whole world of freedom, peace, and joy waiting for you beyond.