Bliss Point: How the Food Industry Creates Addictive Foods

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Bliss Point: How the Food Industry Creates Addictive Foods

Foods designed to make us addicted, to ensure we never stop eating them. This is the philosophy of the food industries that seek the bliss point. We talked about it with dietician Loreto Nemi.

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Interview with Dr. Loreto Nemi

Dietitian and teacher at the Unicamillus International Medical University of Rome

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When we open a bag of chips swearing that we will only eat one, when we unwrap the first chocolate from the box promising ourselves that we won't take another one, when we realize that in the middle of the afternoon we have finished an entire pack of biscuits: in none of these cases we can blame ourselves. The responsibility lies entirely with those who designed – exactly, planned, not cooked or conceived – these foods. The three examples are the three typical cases of foods for the preparation of which the concept of the bliss point was followed, which translated means the point of bliss, a perfect mix of salt, sugar and fat.

What does bliss point mean?

In English bliss means bliss, the bliss of heaven, on the other hand gluttony is not surprisingly one of the seven deadly sins. The bliss point is the point at which the enjoyment of a food can reach its peak. ” In 2013 the American journalist Michael Moss published a book entitled “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us in which he explains exactly how the food industries work in America – explains dietician Loreto Nemi, professor at the International Medical University of Rome – The bliss point is the concept pursued by large multinationals who aim to design foods with a perfect mix of fats, sugars and salt to make them irresistible.” A chemical formula capable of stimulating the production of certain neurotransmitters that induce us to eat more and more. ” We study it in the laboratory, we try to find the combination that induces the consumer not to stop at the first bite, 'drugging' the taste buds and stimulating the production of dopamine, the feel-good hormone.”

When well-being does not mean health

What harm is there in eating a food that can make us happy? Happiness in this case does not rhyme with health, the foods that follow the bliss point philosophy are ultra-processed foods, the result of multiple processes and manipulations and rich in less than natural ingredients. “These foods are designed only to attract and not to nourish. They are made with even cheap ingredients that maximize companies' profits, but they are anything but healthy. Let's think not only of the foods we find on the supermarket shelves but also of those served in some fast food chains: chicken, chips, foods that are fried and then refried and then glazed with sugar or salt. The flavor is extraordinary, it makes us devour it, but the nutritional qualities are zero.” Many studies, conducted on a large scale, have confirmed the risks of this type of food. ” Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, inflammation: there are more than one reasons why we should avoid eating them. Even a simple fruit juice can be an ultra-processed food.”

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Bliss point: what to pay attention to

It's difficult to stay away from biscuits or chips, but even within industrial foods we can make some healthy distinctions. “The answers we look for are always found on the label. We read the ingredients and if we find sugars, glucose syrup, preservatives, thickeners and flavorings in the top places, let's put them aside and choose something else, or try to consume them very rarely” . Willpower has nothing to do with it, they are foods designed so that you can't do without them and so that you don't stop at the first bite. “The ones most subject to this type of addiction are children. It is no coincidence that snack advertisements are aimed directly at them. We avoid as much as possible accustoming them to this type of diet and choose simple ingredients that allow them to taste and appreciate the natural flavor of food”.

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