"I carry an insatiable dragon": This is how the appetite works in the Society of the free buffet

With Mary (fictitious name), her dietitian-nutritionist recommended her a full breakfast biscuit (two in the morning or, if she was very hungry, six throughout the day). Before going to work, she was already swallowing the sixth ("and thinking of the next day to eat them again"). Sausages, sweets, strong-flavored cheeses... "I never fancied spinach," he recalls.

"It all started when I was 28 years old [now sum 65], after the loss of a relative: A dragon woke up inside me who was always hungry," he recalls. overweight, hypertension, and warnings from doctors after blood tests came. (glucose was shot). And more than 15 kilos later, Maria attended compulsive Eaters Anonymous, an association that helps people who can not stop eating by applying a method equal to Alcoholics Anonymous. There he learned tools of relaxation and management of emotions to dominate the beast, "that is now asleep."

Today, when he arrives from the supermarket home, he no longer esquilma the purchase while he keeps it in the fridge ("and then he would come back to dinner, of course"), but he still maintains many precautions to prevent the disaster from repeating: "I take my own dessert to family meals , usually, fruit compote. " Although it seems an extreme case, it is not difficult to feel reflected in some of the details that splashed the complicated existence of Mary: who has not salivad with the smell of a biscuit after a dinner in which could not fit a half calorie more. What if we all bring in that insatiable dragon?

Hunger does not mark the way

A study review of 2016, published in Critical reviews in Food Science and nutrition, alert: The caloric intake we do does not depend exclusively on hunger. In fact, according to the researchers who sign it, of the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom), in the Western world, rich in resources, this is only a small part of the equation that pushes us to eat, "but not much less the most important one". In other words: we eat without hunger (physiological). Or what is the same: we turn what we turn, we always want more.

Not everything is a mystery

The mechanism of hunger is well known. "It is due to a physiological response managed from the hypothalamus through stimuli captured. For example, a decrease in blood sugar or hepatic glucose generates hormonal responses such as the secretion of ghrelin [an appetite-controlling hormone], which brings with it the emergence of hunger, "explains dietitian-nutritionist Iva Marques, of The Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The same goes for satiety: physiological aspects of digestion trigger the secretion of leptin, which tells the brain that we are already full.

But even these hormones, which could well become precise watches in matters of eating, have their tricks, as documented by the studio televised the Biggest Loser (NBC, 2016) in the U.S., where it is pointed out that people who lose 10% of their Habitual weight or more ends recovering by a question of metabolic compensation. "Body fat has long been associated with human survival, so a sudden loss gives rise to metabolic reactions that try to counteract it: it increases ghrelin (i.e. hunger) and leptin plummets ( Capacity to satiate), "develops Marques.

Yogurt formulated not to repeat

Although there are no foods with the official denomination of "satiating", there are few ongoing investigations that seek to give the formula of the product that fills with low calories. Amparo Tárrega Guillem, researcher at the CSIC Institute of Agrochemical and Food technology, has participated in a yogurt to control appetite. With extra protein ("It has been observed that a protein-rich meal provides more satiety than a low and there may be several responsible mechanisms: it is still being studied", accurate) and sensory games ("more thickness and variety of textures in yogurt — based on To introduce fruit –, before they would stop eating people "). A warning: "They are only supportive foods. Basing the diet on them would be dangerous. "

But who measures the pleasure?

Hormonal breaks apart, there is a wide range of factors that modulate our satiety and bring an unfathomable complexity to a simple-looking physiological process. The British Nutrition Foundation summarizes them in the following: The palatability of food (i.e., how much pleasure the consumption contributes); The size of the portions (using small but crowded dishes facilitates the feeling of satiety); The variety of food and drink available (strike explain the panorama at a hotel buffet); Emotional states; The aspects of our environment (availability of food or publicity); Social occasions (meetings with friends) and levels of physical activity.

Of all these conditions, the palatability is probably the most related to satisfaction, the third pillar of appetite, together with hunger and satiety, according to Dr. Iva Marques, "and extremely difficult to measure, because it responds to questions Psychological ".

As the chemist Luis Jiménez summarizes in the obese Brain (Createspace), the foods that bring delight to those who swallows activate the reward circuit: in addition to consuming energy, we eat because we like it.

So is it possible to hook up to the food?

The biochemist José Miguel Mulet, author of what is healthy eating? (Destiny), no doubt: "Of course I do. And it's a well-known psychological disorder. With a peculiarity: Unlike game or alcohol, with food you are always exposed to what causes addiction. " Ramiro Ferrando, a graduate in nutrition and master in Nutrigenomics, summarized it in the Web Naukas (science, skepticism and humour): "Can you say no to a chocolate bar a winter night? Are you able to eat just a Pringle potato? [...] The more palatable the offer is, the greater our willingness to put aside the feeling of satiety. "

The debate resides in whether the addictiveness is the substance or the food behavior. And although the evidence is tilted by the second, salt, sugar and fats are in the sights, "by increasing the palatability of almost any food," Ferrando continues. A study carried out by the University of Sidney (Australia), published in Current Obesity reports last March, directly linked the exposure to palatable foods with the alteration of appetite and excessive food intake.

Let's face it: with the cauliflower does not happen to us

Mulet blamed to genetics the fact that we always have a gap for dessert: "Since we are Homo sapiens we have spent much more time hunting and collecting food by the savannah in Africa than in a Western society, civilized and with a full fridge. This implies that, genetically, our body still thinks it is in the savannah hunting. " And that way of life, adds the biochemist, "supposed that one day you hunted a lot, but then you could spend two or three days fasting. Then, we are programmed to eat as much as possible when there is, and store it in the form of fats. The point is that we no longer hunt and the food supply is no problem in one part of the world. What is the result? The obesity epidemic we have. "

And why does it always happen to us with the candy? "Because they are the most caloric foods and our brains are prepared not to let them escape. He says, ' It's energy for tomorrow. Eat '. In fact, when we lived in the savannah, the sweet foods were scarce and very precious: if you found honey or some wild fruit, you had to acabársela it completely, "adds the Discloser.

Tricks to stop a little earlier

Fighting our voracious nature is possible. To opt for food with fiber, which cannot be digested whole, as a mulet apostille, is a good physiological tool. Mary, of Compulsive Eaters Anonymous, has earned the meditation to put an end to her emotional intake: Today she is dedicated to helping others to achieve it. and dietitian-nutritionist Iva Marques advises to chew slowly and with conscience (turn off the TV, according to the British Nutrition Foundation, paves the way to concentrate), heat the plate whenever possible ("There is data to believe that increases Satiety for Satisfaction ") and maintain an active and pleasurable lifestyle (pathways for joy other than binge).

In addition, from the standpoint of psychology, there is a compendium of curious strategies to keep your mouth shut, collected by Joseph P. Redden, Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Minnesota, in the psychology of Desire (The psychology of Desire): Repeat a taste in different dishes (Voucher for bag potatoes: if you are going to buy several, which are all of the same type, and will eat less); See on the table the wrapping of what is being eaten (no picking every bit); Visualize at a banquet before attending one (will not arrive Empachado, but help) and, with the bread, try to always have the same hardness to get tired before and not reach the bar and half. Any caution is little for the dragon to remain mired in his lethargy...

To the rescue of who takes two ice cream because you know a little

A study published in PLOS Biology Last March suggests that obesity reduces the number of taste buds due to the inflammatory process and therefore decreases the taste system. This makes it even more difficult for overweight people who have to eat more and more to capture the flavors of the dish's delights. But what science removes, science returns, and there are few studies that ensure that the flavor is not only captured by the tongue, but that aroma, sound and color also help build it. For example, a sweet drink is perceived as less sweet in the hubbub of an airport (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human perception and Performance): You know where to avoid them. Spraying a serving with a cheese aroma will prevent excessive consumption (appetite). And if you're going to have strawberry ice cream, write down this find from Oxford University: served on a white dish will taste sweeter than a black one.