How Do You Avoid Foods with High Reward Value?
Disclaimer: This one is going to be a challenge.
The actual definition for Reward value is “the motivational value of the food for you individually.” RV is typically measured in research on a scale of 1-10. The reward value of food is different for everyone. For example, I don’t particularly like cake or pastries, so the reward value of those things is not high for me. For someone who loves pastries, the reward value (RV) is much higher. Ask me about pizza though? RV 10 – off the charts!!
Calorically dense foods (donuts, chips, cookies, etc.) typically contain appropriate amounts of sugar, fat, and salt to make them higher in reward value and harder to stop eating. A piece of chicken (protein), or baked potato (carb) however, doesn’t tend to have a high RV. Ice cream (sugar, fat, and salt) typically has a very high RV. Food scientists know this all too well. The perfect combination of sugar, fat, and salt feeds the same pleasure center in your brain as other addictive properties such as cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. That old pringles ad of “I betchya can’t eat just one” was right on.
The Sugar, Fat, Salt Equation
I’m sure you know this, but these concepts are not mysterious to food companies that manufacture processed foods. They employ food scientists that have engineered the food you’re eating to contain the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and salt to trigger your reward center to NEED more as compared to that plain baked potato we talked about earlier. Now that’s a food that would be hard to overeat!
Why does the food industry spend millions of dollars to make food so palatable that we can’t “just eat one”? Here’s a big shock for you. Brace yourself….they don’t have your best interest in mind. It’s true.
They are a business.
They want your money.
They don’t care about your health.
That’s not their line of work. When food is highly palatable, we pull out our wallets and we buy more. Also, fun fact, the more buttery they can make something, the faster you eat it, the quicker it slides down your throat, the more you eat, and you guessed it, the more you buy.
The Wrong Kind of Love
We do this in our kitchens too. We love people with food. Good food!! Not healthy food. You know what I’m talking about…I’m guessing you’ve never served a dinner party with plain steak, plain brown rice, and raw broccoli. We make fantastic food for the people we love because we equate full bellies with a happy heart. I sincerely think this is innate behavior. Think about it. We feed babies, and they become happy and giggly. Its engrained in us to love with food. Hear me correctly. I’m not scolding you for having excellent meals for people you love and delicious dinner parties. I am, however, gently reminding you that there are plenty of ways to love people in healthier ways. So maybe next time you’re going to bring your friend a pan of bars, consider a candle and words of affirmation. Conversely, foods that have a low amount of ingredients (eggs, apple, beef, carrots) don’t touch that pleasure center in the same way. I’m sure you agree. Which is why it’s nearly impossible to overconsume them and why if you eat a diet like the whole 30 (all whole/real foods for 30 days) you find that you eat more food than you could imagine, yet you tend to lose weight. Why? Because you aren’t overeating. You are eating enough to be full and then able to stop consuming additional food and calories. I should also note that when you lose weight this way vs. calorie restriction, your brain doesn’t trigger a starvation response which leads to rebounding weight gain.