- File Size: 1184 KB
- Print Length: 341 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
- Publication Date: September 14, 2010
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0025VKJNA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,268 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
— Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food
From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I walked into Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill in Toronto, an energetic place that draws a young crowd and entertains them with loud music and multiple television monitors. A sign advertised a restaurant gift card: “a gift for every craving.”
The dinner menu descriptions had an over-the-top quality that reminded me of Chili’s, including ultimate nachos, with their “bubbling blend of cheeses,” and a bacon cheeseburger.
I ordered two items from the “start-up” list. The lobster and crab dip was a warm, fatty blend dominated by cream cheese. The Southwest grilled chicken flatbread, with its four-cheese blend and smoky chipotle aioli, was a dish of fat on fat on refined carbohydrates, accompanied by a little protein. There were two flatbreads to an order, each about 10.5 inches long.
My entrée, crispy honey sesame chicken, consisted of fried chicken balls with a substantial portion of vegetables, covered in a sweet sauce. Fat, sugar, and salt had been layered and loaded onto the dish.
But for all that, the food at Jack Astor’s stopped somewhat short of its American counterparts. The preparations had less of an industrial quality. The dishes were cooked to order on site, not par-fried, frozen, and shipped across the country. There weren’t as many fried chicken balls on my dinner plate, and they weren’t as large.
I saw that kind of contrast everywhere I looked in Canada. Swiss Chalet offered an all-you-can-eat lunch, a garlic cheese loaf “smothered in melted Jack and cheddar,” and a waiter who assured me that “everything comes with dipping sauce.” But portion sizes were a trifle smaller than is typical in the United States and there was a homemade quality to most of the food. At Caroline’s Cheesecake, there were fewer choices than at the Cheesecake Factory, but the portions seemed about as big. The Pickle Barrel had a lot of healthy-sounding food on its menu, but it also served a “triple threat chocolate sundae,” a “mammoth Oreo cookie sundae,” and lemon cranberry and apple cinnamon muffins that were the size of grapefruits.
Canada, it seems, is headed in a troubling direction as the ingredients of conditioned hypereating are assembled. Things aren’t as bad here as they are in the United States, but they aren’t good. One out of four Canadians is now obese, compared to one in three in the U.S. One-third of Canadians who were classified as normal weight a decade ago are now overweight. The upward curve is especially evident in the younger population, with the number of overweight and obese children, ages 7 to 13, increasing by as much as 300% in just two decades.
Human physiology and conditioning are, of course, the same in both countries, so social norms and the environment offer the only possibilities of arresting these trends. It is as if a great natural experiment is being conducted in Canada.
An earlier generation of Canadians recalls a time when eating in restaurants was a rare event and snacking in the street was considered crass. One colleague told me how his father used to love visiting U.S. supermarkets because he was awed by how many more varieties of breakfast cereal were available. Even today, despite changing patterns and the growth of chain restaurants across the country, food is still not quite so ubiquitous or indulgent in Canada. The limitations that once disappointed Canadians may yet save them from the consequences its more overindulgent neighbor is facing.
Nonetheless, candy cane donuts and sour cream donuts are now available at Tim Horton’s, and the small donut balls known as “Timbits” are one of the store’s especially popular features. Even the upscale restaurant, Milestone’s, serves an array of sweet and fatty dipping sauces with its Cajun popcorn shrimp, seafood mixed grill, and yam fries. And the Quebecois tradition of poutine– French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy–has gained traction, with many fast-food restaurants in all of the provinces adding it to their menus. Swiss Chalet gives me the opportunity to “poutinize” my fries for $1.99.
Still, Canada has an opportunity to recognize the trajectory it is on and change course. A publishing professional I met there suggested how it might be done when he confessed to his struggle over Kit Kats. A large, tightly disciplined man, he told me that every evening as he heads to the train for his ride home, he breaks into a run to get safely past a news stand that sells those crispy chocolate wafers. Canada, too, must figure out the direction it needs to start running in order to avoid calamity.
When I asked the manager of Jack Astor’s about portion sizes, he told me, “They’re bigger than they have to be. But it’s not like Cheesecake Factory.”
The question is whether it will stay that way.
From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book answered "what the heck" for me and also provided me a way out. Showing how the food industry has *deliberately* increased unhealthy and addicting sugar, fats, and salt in processed and restaurant foods, disguising them, mislabeling or underlabeling, Kessler demonstrates how the food industry (some of the big six food companies are owned by big tobacco companies, and if you're not sure about exactly how devious and nefarious big tobacco is, read Kessler's book "A Question of Intent") continually works to intentionally increase our addiction and desire for unhealthy foods. The way out for me is pretty simple: I don't like being manipulated. So for me, in many ways, problem solved. Kessler provides a food rehab plan about how to break your cycle of addiction and free yourself from what has been deliberately done to you; to reclaim your ability to make positive choices; and to recognize processed and restaurant foods for what they are: fat on sugar on salt on fat, or some variation of same.
My take-away from this book is consumers need to be MORE aware what goes into foods we eat at restaurants in addition to what we eat out of the box (more so then foods we prepare at home). Most of us already know that but the re-enforcement Kessler gives in his book is an excellent reminder. That broccoli or spinach quiche at your favorite restaurant may appear good for you (after all, it is made of vegetables that's heart-healthy) but, as Kessler points out, good probability that fillers and added ingredients in that quiche cancel out any benefits you may THINK you will get. Even if you were to order steamed chicken at a Chinese restaurant, there may be an accompanying sauce that minimizes the chicken's health benefit. Kessler tells you to be mind-aware of not only what you eat but how it was prepared (added salt, sugar, fats, etc).
The much smaller, prescriptive part at the end is ad hoc. A problem with overeating (as is so well documented in the more science-backed section) is that self-control is too easily overwhelmed. There's a lot of evidence that we have only so much self-control, that it's a scarce resource. Kessler suggests that you set eating rules for yourself. According to him, that will keep you out of overeating without as much reliance on self-control.
Really? Any evidence?
To my mind, this is an intriguing suggestion. It's a hypothesis worthy of study. Does it really work? It might for some. Who knows? No one does. He cites no studies. And one buys a book like this based on the scientific pedigree of its author.
This is an odd book, then, consisting of a precise dissection of the Cinnabon followed by purely speculative self-help advice.
Top international reviews
Time after time he looks at research results and finds interesting correlation but not causality. When chapter upon chapter is repeated like this it begins to sound very persuasive. He appears to have an answer too, but what he has in mind for us is a lifetime of abstinence and a constant, if diminishing, struggle with the availability of highly-engineered food in our environment. In essence, he is telling us we are inexorably addicted and we have to take steps to live with that. I'm all in favour of personal responsibility, unless there's an easier way.
What if he's based all of this on the wrong assumptions? What if, by avoiding carbohydrates but being more relaxed about fat and salt intake (these are the 3 elements he casts as an evil trinity), we can create a physiological environment that no longer sends hunger signals (cues, priming etc.) to the brain all day long? What if the very simple answer to damping down rogue neuronal activity lies in managing your insulin response? I suspect it does and wish that Kessler and Taubes would compare notes to come up with a more integrated theory that combines the findings of both arguments.
He tells us his weight has fluctuated, but I doubt he's battling obesity. If he were might he be able to take more seriously the anomaly that he temptingly toys with in several places, that both under-and overweight people overeat with different results. When he asks more questions about why that might be happening, he may well be able to find answers for the people who need it.
That said, it's a great read and provides a horrifying insight into the way the 'food' industry is moving. Dr Kessler is in a position of great influence and I hope he uses it to tackle the food industry with the same courage that he directed towards the tobacco companies. The biggest problem I see with that at the moment, is that no one is really sure (because there really isn't enough compelling evidence) exactly what the guidelines for a healthy diet should be.
My only qualm with this book is, as other reviewers have mentioned, that the author doesn't propose a clear-cut treatment for overeating. The steps toward treatment are sort of implied by the research on overeating presented in the book - we need to sever our emotional connection to food, avoid the cues to make us overeat, etc. - but it would've been nice to have received practical advice on how to overcome eating. The first part of the book is fantastic but the end fizzles out a bit for this reason. This book has definitely changed my life and the way I look at food. I would even say my eating habits have changed for the positive; however, I am still looking for a book which gives a more practical guide to treating my overeating in combination with the sort of excellent research that Kessler includes.
Some could argue that this book is not high on solutions. But people fail to realize that you do not need a solution when you understand the workings of your mind. Because every action you take is under your control. therefore it's your responsibility, your solution on how you wish to deal with your eating habits.
Once you become aware of the very things that cause you to overeat and eat. Then you will have the ability to dictate what kind of action you want to produce. It is always a decision you make between yourself.
However, this is not really a book to help you lose weight. Mr Kessler focuses on the intense food, marketing cues and dopamine releases (a bit repetitive at times) but less on the challenge of resisting it. He plays down the role of dieting in creating the problem of compulsive eating and largely ignores the psychological effects of feeling unattractive and fetishising about being thin, which affect so many women dieters. If you want to skip some of the science and hear more about the human and psychological story, I recommend Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed: Why Calorie Counting Always Fails - What Makes Us Greedy - How the Food Industry Keeps Us Fat . It is based on exactly the same theory (obesity is caused by our modern diet) but offers a more specific and user-friendly solution.
It's easy to dip in and out of when you have spare time to read and I'd recommend it if you are on a diet regime or just for general interest