Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

A few weeks back I saw someone post a photo of The End of Overeating:  Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler, MD on Instagram.  I read an overview and decided I needed to read it.  

David Kessler, MD starts by discussing how American's can't stop overeating.  The overview really hit home.  He talked about how as some American's eat and can't control themselves.  I have pretty good self control but there are times when I start eating sweets or salty foods and just can't stop.  It's like all of my willpower isn't enough to stop me. 

Kessler then explains why it is that way.  He states that food is now made to be addictive.  Restaurants and food manufactures make food in a way that once Americans taste the food they come back for more and more.  Food is now made in a way to enhance Fats, Sugar, and Salt.  The three bad ingredients.  Restaurants make food in a way that its salt on fat on sugar on fat, etc.  This enhancement of flavors creates a reaction in our brain similar to drugs (that's right drugs).  These foods become addictive and thus Americans overeat.  

As I continued reading about the different ways restaurants create foods, I had no desire to eat out.  He says that even simple items that sound healthy on a menu are in fact not healthy.  It was kind of scary but in a good way.  I figure if I don't go out to eat as often because I am grossed about my restaurant food then I will be saving money and be able to control of what I eat.

The main reason why I purchased the book was to find a way to help control my occasional overeating.   This is where I thought the book could do a better job.  Kessler's steps for curbing the overeating included:

1.  Awareness - being aware of your overeating..  "You have to figure out the situation that leads you to eat, that leads you to start the chain of behavior."  Basically know what causes you to overeat.  If it's stress try to stay less stressed.  Or if certain people make you vulnerable stay away from those people.  You do not have to stay away from everything but be aware of the scenario and when it arises say no.

2.  Engaging in Competing Behaviors - to resist the pull of behavior we need to develop and learn alternative responses that are incompatible with it.  Do you go straight to the fridge when you come home or having problems resisting a certain restaurant on your way home?  Do not enter the kitchen or take a different route home.  Basically, create habits that will compete against the urge.

3.  Formulating Thoughts that Compete with and serve to quiet, the old ones.  This goes to making verbal cues.  "Instead of 'that pink of chocolate ice cream looks really good to me; I'll have just a few bites,' we can say to ourselves, 'I know that I can't have one bite, because it will lead to twenty."  Or you can remind yourself of goals or you can repeat "I don't have to respond that way; I can respond this way."

4.  Support - having someone around who can help you recognize and avoid cues and acknowledge success makes the process easier.  The choice is our own but supportive family, friends, colleagues, and health processionals make a difference.  

These are all great steps, but I think I was really expecting a Jillian Michaels approach with more formulated rules for overeating.  

Overal, I enjoyed the book.  I enjoyed learning about why we overeat and how restaurants and food manufactures make food that is addictive.  But I felt the book came up short with actually taking control. 

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