I hope you are enjoying the new month of August and are having a healthy summer.

I would love to share one of my favorite books with you that gets to the fascinating root of why we overeat (great for vacations or poolside reading).

I mean, have you ever wondered why it feels like sometimes we are just overeating machines?

— Eating way past the point of being full?

— Eating foods we know make us overweight and even sick?

In this episode of Thin Thinking, I review Dr. David Kessler’s groundbreaking book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.

Learn how the food industry has hijacked our appetites and this is one summer read that you won’t want to put down.

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

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Rita Black: Have you ever wondered why it feels like sometimes we are just overeating machines - eating way past the point of being full, eating foods we know make us overweight and even sick? In this episode of Thin Thinking, I review and dive into Dr. David Kessler's groundbreaking book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. Learn how the food industry has hijacked our appetites and this is one summer read that you won't want to put down. So stay tuned.

Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right, the key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi there, I'm Rita Black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist, weight loss expert, best-selling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery, I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict, and binge eater. And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills, and insights to help you develop the mindset you need. Not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long-term and live your best life.

Rita Black: Hello. Hello. Hello. And I hope you have been enjoying the summer and have been able to get at least a way for a little break, if not a longer break. I'm pretty much done with my summer on my end. I mean, although it continues to be super hot here in Los Angeles, all the trips and vacations are over. We've gotten out of town a couple of times, and now I'm just focused on a project that is near and dear to my heart, which I will be revealing more about soon to you, but it's been keeping me super busy and getting me more and more excited because it's going to be awesome. Awesome. More to come.

Rita Black: For those of you who are heading out for the summer vacation this month, I have a great book to read - if you're interested in thin thinking reading while you are away. Are you somebody who reads when you go away on vacation? I try to. You know, something crazy? I used to read fiction all of the time, but since my daughter was born almost 20 years ago, I pretty much just read non-fiction now. Isn't that kind of crazy? I don't know why it was something about becoming a mother. I got very serious. I mean, before I was very into fiction, but all of a sudden I could only read non-fiction. But maybe that was also because I began my practice and I had been starting my practice and I, my business, I don't know a lot of seriousness happened when my first child was born. For those of you who understand that. And I, yeah, I'm just a non-fiction reader now. And I'm not sure why I resist fiction, but I just figure that I am going to go back to fiction when I'm an empty nester, which is not too far off, sadly enough, but I'm just feeling too focused and serious right now. And there is one time that I read fiction, but I don't actually read it. And that is when I am in the car with my husband and we are on a road trip. And then I, lately we have been reading or listening to non-fiction because when my daughter is in there with us, we listened to books that are more self-help books cause she's into psychology now. But when I'm just with my husband, we listened to great literature and, and my husband calls it literature, you know, he's British. He doesn't sound British, but we kind of joke about, you know, how Americans say literature and the British, they say literature. But we read, you know, the good for you classics, you know, the, from all over the globe, but, uh, you know, the books that are good for you, literature.

Rita Black: But anyway, this book that I have for you is a non-fiction book and it is great for your thin thinking soul. If you like Dr. David Kessler, as much as I do, I'm such a huge fan of his. And you may have seen him, he's been in documentaries. And he's very funny and dry and very smart and very entertaining, and very human. And, you know, he's a very well-versed doctor, but he's, he brings himself and his own struggles with eating into this book. So it's, it's a great read, but, and it's got lots of interesting, interesting bits and pieces of information. So I'm actually gonna read some bits and pieces from it to entice you, but also to kind of bring up this idea of why we overeat.

Rita Black: So I read this book just to say this isn't new out on the market. It, I read it a number of years ago, but it stuck with me. And the research is so good that I always refer back to it, for my clinical practice. So I'm going to just read a little to you from the sleeve of the book and just cause I, you know, I feel like they can say what it's about better than me. So most of us know what it feels like to fall under the spell of food. When one slice of pizza turns into half a pie or a handful of chips leads to an empty bag. But it's harder to understand why we can't seem to stop eating even when we know better. When we want to stop so badly to say no, why do we continue to reach for food?

Rita Black: Dr. David Kessler, the dynamic former FDA commissioner who reinvented the food label and tackled the tobacco industry. Now reveals how the food industry has hijacked the brains of millions of Americans. The result? America's number one, public health issue. Dr. Kessler cracks the code of overeating by explaining how our bodies and minds are changed when we consume foods that contain sugar, fat and salt. Food manufacturers create products by manipulating these ingredients to stimulate our appetites, setting in motion a cycle of desire and consumption that ends with a nation of overeaters. The end of overeating explains for the first time, why it is exceptionally difficult to resist certain foods and why it's so easy to overindulge, right? So doesn't that sound like a page turner to you.

Rita Black: So basically what happens, he gets into the book and, just as, each chapter has a different subject, that he begins really to unravel why our system of homeostasis in the body - that which has the regulatory system that, you know, typically when it's working, you know, we eat when we're hungry, we stop when we're full, can be over written by the reward center. And here he describes this in, in a study. And, and this is very cool because it's actually cause he, you know, like I work with smokers too. And this is a similar thing with the reward center with tobacco, it's the same with food. Like the homeostatic system, the body's reward system is essential to survival, encouraging us to seek out pleasurable things like sex and food. Powerful biological forces are at play that make us want something enough to pursue it and then make us feel momentarily better when we obtain it. The anticipation of a reward provides motivation to act. Motivational pathways in our brains have developed over the millennia to keep us alive. Activated by stimuli in the environment, they generate an emotional response, which drives our behavior. In other words, we receive information and we act on it.

Rita Black: If the message is, this is good, we move closer to gain the benefit. If the message is, this is dangerous, we're likely to withdraw. It is possible to activate the brain's reward centers by artificially stimulating them with an electrode, which is sometimes done during animal experiments. One study showed that when the far lateral hypothalamus region was stimulated, animals ate well beyond the point where they would have otherwise stopped. Another study demonstrated the power of the reward system even more dramatically. This is where it gets very interesting. Food was placed at the far end of the room with an electrified floor that delivered an unpleasant shock. Animals had to walk across the floor to reach their food. The strength of that shock stopped an animal that hadn't eaten for a while, from walking across the floor to obtain food. Under normal circumstances, hunger did not provide enough motive to act given the consequences. Stimulate the reward centers though and the result was just the opposite. Even an animal that wasn't hungry was willing to cross the electrical floor in order to secure a reward. Outside the laboratory or laboratory. There are other stimulants of course, and that raises the provocative scientific questions. Can they also stir the reward centers of the brain? Is it possible that eating certain foods can stimulate us to keep eating and eating and eating?

Rita Black: And isn't that fascinating? So, I mean, I often think about that, the rats crossing the electric fight floor, you know, when, when it's chicken and broccoli on one side of the rats are like hungry. They're like, "Hmm, Maybe not." And then, you know, when the M&M's, pizza and French fries are all over there, they're just like, "Oh, right. So what's a little fried toast." You know, I want my, I want my pizza. So we can quickly begin to see that, you know, our reward centers can be stimulated by the foods that we're eating and then that can start to have a negative impact. So he gets into this a little more, and this is kind of fascinating. I just thought I'd share this with you.

Rita Black: He was talking to, well, let me pre, pre go into this a little bit by saying that the food industry, so basically has discovered that putting sugar, salt, and fat in food products, hijacks our brain's reward center and causes us to eat more and more and more. So basically, the food industry has really learned how manipulate our, our, our bodies and our brains, so that we'll just eat more and more and more of our food, even if we aren't hungry, therefore consuming more of their products. And he describes the boardroom scenarios where heads of marketing heads of marketing, of these big food industry companies, as well as food consultants came up with new combinations of sugar, fat, and salt to be added to foods. So I'm just going to read a little bit from this part.

Rita Black: I asked the food consultant to describe the ingredients and some foods commonly found in popular restaurants today. Potato skins, for example, typically the potatoes hollowed out and the skin is fried, which provides a substantial surface area for what he calls fat pickup. Then some combination of bacon bit, sour cream and cheese is added. The result is fat on fat, on fat, on fat, and much of it is loaded with salt. Cheese fries take a high fat food and put more fat on top of it. He said the potato base is a simple carbohydrate, which quickly breaks down into sugar in the body and once it's fried and layered with cheese, we're eating salt on fat, on fat on sugar, Buffalo wings start with the fatty parts of a chicken, which get deep fried. Then they're served with a creamy or sweet dipping sauce that's heavily salted. Usually they're paired, or I'm sorry. Usually they're par fried at a production plant and then fried again at the restaurant, which essentially doubles the fat gives us sugar and salt on fat on fat on fat. Chicken tenders are also loaded with batcher and fat that my source jokes, that they're basically a UFO and another unidentified fried object. Salt and sugar are loaded into the fat. Salads contained vegetables, of course, but in today's restaurants, they're more than likely to be smothered in a cream base ranch dressing and flavored with cheese chunks, bacon bits, and oily croutons. The food consultant calls this fat with a little lettuce. Although there's salt in the salad as well, even lettuce has become a vehicle for fat.

Rita Black: And I often joke with my clients or a, and you know, when I'm teaching classes that, you know, people, we often, when we're trying to lose weight, we'll go into a restaurant and order a salad thinking that we're being virtuous. But I say to people, you know, if you removed the lettuce from that salad, you would probably end up with a gloopy gloppy pile of cheese, a sugary nuts dressing that is probably far more caloric than you know, one of the other entrees that might seem a little more interesting. So it is fascinating how when we start to look at how we are being, I mean, you know, and I'm not like being a conspiracy theorist, but it's just interesting how our, our brains are actually being manipulated by the foods we eat when we're eating more refined foods - if we go out to restaurants.

Rita Black: So what happens when we are continuously bombarded with these types of foods, I'm going to go on to read from the book a little more by encouraging us to consider any occasion for food and opportunity for pleasure and reward. The industry invites us to indulge a lot more often. That theme populates the marketing reports and conferences that drive food service decision-making. Self-indulgent treating fulfills a very important psychological function declares one report indulging in a premium snack is a self-centered activity, a small moment of relaxation of me-time. Growing levels of stress create a need for indulgence and relaxation, declare the authors who estimate that consumers spend billions of dollars on premium treating occasions. Don't you love that premium treating occasions. I love that they have that down to it's called a treating occasion. Other highlights from the report, consumers are indulging themselves more often. A growing proportion of snacking occasions are premium. Self-rewarding encourages premium snacking. There is a growing feeling that people need to reward themselves. There is a blurring of distinction between needs and desires. The report went on to offer numerous ideas for exploiting these trends.

Rita Black: Okay? So as you can see, then the food industry, according to Dr. Kessler is, you know, putting in play all of these products that are bombarding us, bombarding our senses and starting to create overeating behaviors. So here's a little more of what he says. Salient food drives a cycle of overeating behavior. Highly rewarding food becomes reinforcing because we've learned that it makes us feel better, motivating us to return and do the work necessary to feel better again. Learning that certain behavior generates reward motivates us to act. And when the motivational circuitry of our brains is activated, we come back for more. This process is enabled by the power of memory. Our memories store the experiences of consuming highly palatable food and the resulting reward. This learning circuitry makes us aware of cues that predict the emotionally valued experience so that when we sense those cues again, we also retrieve the memories associated with them. And those memories in turn, drive arousal so that we repeat the actions that led to the pleasure. With the wide availability of potential stimuli, this process repeats itself over and over. The more multisensory, the stimuli, the greater the reward and the stronger the emotional reaction. The stronger, the emotional reaction, the more potent the memories. The more potent the memories, the more powerful the cues. Action builds on response and respond and response generates actions. Eventually the actions that lead to pleasure become imprinted on the brain and the habit of pursuit becomes firmly established. Once our behavior becomes automatic, the emotional component, the desire to feel better, is no longer required. We saw this principle at work and the experiments that demonstrated the power of habit. The animals persisted in eating food even after they had been sickened by it. Haven't you ever felt like that eating so much, you feel sick, but continuing to feel driven to eat? They acted against their better interests because they were guided by routine rather than new learning.

Rita Black: Okay. So having settle that, having read all that, are we totally screwed? I mean, he goes on to talk about, have more, to get more deeply into research and the impact of these foods, highly palatable foods on the brain and body and, and how we then basically become conditioned automatons to want to eat these foods. So basically the bottom line don't feel bad because if you are caught in, this is just something that when our system gets out of balance, it's very easy for it to fall into, as you probably have noticed. But we aren't totally screwed. And he actually, the last half of the book, discussing how to reverse the habits, how to intercept these things that have been put into play by the food industry and by highly refined, highly palatable food. So I'm just going to read you a few of the, the four-part process said he gets into.

Rita Black: The cornerstone of treatment for conditioned hyper-eating is developing the capacity to refuse the cues invitation to the brain in the first place. That refusal must come early and it must be definitive. It's only at the very beginning when the invitation arises that you have any control over it, Lachman affirmed. At that point, it's still possible to away from the stimulus. Once we get started, a cascade of offense stimulation response, and more stimulation is likely to drive behavior.

Rita Black: So one of the things I talk about a lot in my process is one of the skills of weight mastery, which is stimulus control. So keeping that highly stimulated, leading food out of your environment is actually, you know, keeping it away from your brain, keeping it away from stimulation. Another thing that I think planning helps and thinking things through and thinking through before you go out to eat and having a plan ahead of times helps you cut off those cues and have a higher level plan in mind. And you're engaging the brain in a different way in along the lines of what he's saying here.

Rita Black: So awareness is the first step begin being aware means that you have a conscious knowledge of the risks of a given situation. You have to figure out the situation that leads you to eat, that leads you to start the chain of behaviors. Because as you really get conscious about your eating, you see that they are chains of behavior. So often we get stuck in a behavior, we criticize ourselves. We say, "Well, I blew it. I'll start again tomorrow." But we don't own the behavior and look at the chain so that we can begin to say, "Aha, this is actually a process. And I have some power here. I can start to intercept myself in this part and use my brain." You know, on a higher level way than, than this, automatic system that has been created and start to also just make changes in your environment. So that is the absolute first step to catalog all of the stimuli, all of the situations, all the cues that start the chain.

Rita Black: The second component, so he goes on to write or read, write some more stuff, and I'm just giving you the highlights. The second component of habit reversal is engaging in competing behaviors to resist what Miltenberger calls the pull of the behavior. We need to develop and learn alternative responses that are incompatible with it. Rather than coming home at night and going straight to the refrigerator, you change your routine and you don't even enter the kitchen. You enter, you take a different route in order to avoid the fast food corridor that tempts you. Or you make a list and ask a family member to go to the grocery store so you don't risk off-limit purchases. To compete successfully with old habits, this competing behavior needs to be planned before you encounter a cue. You need to know exactly how to respond when your behavior, your sorry, when your brain receives an wanted invitation.

Rita Black: So again, starting to be aware of the cues that tripwire your brain gives you a lot of power and then gives you the ability to plan ahead, think around these things, and to begin to, you know, to reroute basically your life into have as some power back in it.

Rita Black: The third element of habit reversal is formulating thoughts that compete with and serve to quiet the old ones. I think we take for granted how much of what we do is verbally mediated at governed by talking our way through a problem, says the Canadian psychologist, Phillip [inaudible], in essence, we write a cognitive script that helps us carry out the new behavior and deal effectively with the old. Our thoughts and the language we use to express them can remind us of the consequences of bad habits and guide us to other actions and heightened the reinforced value of success. For example, we can introduce the ideas that oppose others instead of "That pie of chocolate ice cream looks really good to me. I'll just have a few bites." We can say to ourselves, "I know that I can't have one bite because it will lead to a 20." We can remind ourselves of goals. If I don't eat that now, I'll feel better about myself tomorrow. And I definitely think, you know, that's, that's kind of what we really focus on in the ship.

Rita Black: The fourth component of habit reversal is support. None of these changes is easy to make and having someone around who can help you recognize and avoid cues and acknowledge your success makes the whole process much easier. Ultimately, the choices we make are ours alone, but supportive family, friends, colleagues, and health professionals can make a big difference. So again, as we have all learned well in the shift weight mastery community, and as research has shown that support, it can be a huge, huge component of long-term success. People tend to be twice as successful in group situations as they do on their own, because we're reinforcing healthy behaviors with each other. The support and being in that comradery of people in the same boat, as you can not be replaced, it's very hard to be in your own mind. But when you have others reflecting the changes that you want to make around you, that can really actually help change the brain more quickly, which is super cool.

Rita Black: So I, I mean, like I said, there's so much in this book, there's, it's a great book. It is a great read. And, I read you some interesting tidbits, but I do say that he has, he attacks it with a lot of humor, and it as well, and I, I I've sent many clients to this book and they've had nothing but great reviews, you know, that's why, I want to share it with you now.

Rita Black: I'm not going to be a spoiler and divulge all of the book, but just, let's just say that we, I, it's important for us all to know that, you know, we are not weak or broken and that a lot of what we've come to know as the American diet has hijacked our brains and our appetites. So, you know, it's, knowledge is power. And knowing that refined foods have the power to make us hungrier, crave more, and become literally automated consumers of hyper palatable food gives us the opportunity to begin to unhook and exercise our ability to choose. Now, when I look at certain foods, I don't think, oh, I can't have that, but I choose not to have that, knowing that that cake is going to hijack my brain and I will want more, and then I'll want something else. I'm not choosing not to have it to be a good girl. I'm choosing it to, I'm choosing to abstain, to remain free of both mind and body and the longer I'm in my weight mastery, the more important this has become for me. And the more I understand these things, like understand how food manipulates my brain and body, the easier it is to say, nah, no, thank you. And not feel any feelings of regret or remorse or that I'm feeling deprived. I just feel like I don't want anything going in my body that is going to hijack me and take me to that place, especially of struggle and pain that I knew so well.

Rita Black: So I urge you to check out this book and that's full of insight and compelling information while you are enjoying this last month of summer. And I hope you also check out the link. I have put the link to the end of overeating in my show notes. And while you are there, you can also check out the link to my, my own book, From Fat to Thin Thinking, if you want to add that to your summer reading list. It actually comes with a 30-day hypnosis process that goes along with it. So it's great value for the money and it's a great way to get inspired, to transform your thinking and to remove the barriers that keep you struggling. The link is right there in the show notes.

Rita Black: So, have an amazing summer, rest of the summer. I will be back next week, but you know, if you're heading off on a vacation, have a wonderful time, have an amazing week. And remember that the key and probably the only key to unlocking the door, the weight struggle is inside you. So keep listening and find it, and I will see you next week or be with you here next week.

Rita Black: Do you want to dive deeper into the mindset of long-term weight release? Head on over to www.shiftweightmastery.com where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release, tips, strategies, and more, and be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book From Fat to Thin Thinking: Unlock Your Mind For Permanent Weight Loss.