Friday, December 2, 2011

Some thoughts on the Food Reward Theory

Stephan at WholeHealthSource has been writing several articles on Food Reward as a dominant cause of obesity.

Food Reward Theory (FRT) is not a new theory and has been acknowledged by medical researchers. There has been a book "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" by David Kessler on FRT.

Food Reward theory says that Highly rewarding or palatable foods cause an increase in food intake. This is a dominant cause of obesity. Dominant does not mean that this is the only reason for obesity.

Food Reward is a very personal thing. Every individual reacts to the same foods differently. For example there are some people who prefer bitter things like black coffee while others favor sweeter things. All the basic tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami affect different persons differently. Similarly Food Reward response for each person is different for each food.

The most potent food components that affect FR are sweetness, saltiness and fattiness. These affect the most number of people. In fact food engineers for the large food manufacturers use these and other flavors to make food that provide unprecedented food reward.

There are some facts about food reward that should be considered.

1) Food Reward goes down if the same food (however highly rewarding), is eaten alone for a long time. Variety is required to keep the Food Reward level high.

2) Also a bland food will become rewarding if the food is eaten to exclusion.

The two points can be combined to say that if we eat the same foods over and over again the Food reward will come to a boring but enjoyable point.

This is the major base over which all reasonably successful diets work. They take away or severely restrict variety. A diet which only works by counting calories will not be successful as it will not reduce hunger. But a diet which reduces variety will restrict food reward and thus reduce hunger, thereby causing calorie reduction automatically.

Some even more successful diets reduce one or more of the three most rewarding food components. A high carb low fat diet will reduce the fat reward. A low carb high fat diet reduces the sweet reward (starch also acts as a sweet proxy). A low carb low fat high protein diet will be even more low reward.

The keyword here is still that it is just a dominant factor. Restricting toxins, fulfilling micro-nutrient requirements, a healthy gut flora, and a healthy hormonal system are required to become truly healthy and lose fat in a healthy way. Reducing food reward can only help so much. If these other dominant factors are not handled then either the loss will be temporary or incomplete.

Actually solving the other four factors will help weight loss without reducing Food Reward in any significant way, and will also be permanent. This is the path Perfect Health Diet takes.

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