Bliss foods

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Sunday, 19 July 2009.
Tagged: dieting, healthy eating, kids, overweight, snacks, weight loss

Bliss foods

Bliss for the tastebuds, hell for the hips!  Recent articles in The Australian, The Washington Post and other newspapers have been touting the existence of what they call "bliss foods". So what is a "bliss food" and what's all the fuss about?

What is a bliss food?

There is an optimum blend of fat, sugar and salt that when present in a particular food makes it hard to resist, so says the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration and author of The End of Overeating, Dr David Kessler. This "food alchemy" stimulates the brain in such a way that instead of satisfying hunger it produces a craving for more.

He calls this the "bliss point". We all know foods that we consider "more-ish" - Tim Tam chocolate biscuits, Lindt dark chocolate with orange, Snickers bars, corn chips with extra flavouring like sour cream and chives or roasted tomato salsa, hot movie popcorn, chocolate mocha frappuccino and the like.

Is there a conspiracy to make you eat more?

The newspaper articles I've read suggest that food manufacturers have discovered the levels of fat, salt and sugar that will make a food "addictive". According to Dr Kessler foods formulated by food scientists such as breakfast cereals, TV dinners and snack foods can stimulate the reward centre of the brain and trigger a "bliss point".

What Dr Kessler says...

According to The Australian, Dr Kessler says this: "It is time to stop blaming individuals for being overweight or obese. The real problem is we have created a world where food is always available and where that food is designed to make you want to eat more of it. For millions of people, modern food is simply impossible to resist."

Bliss point vs personal responsibility

  • My view on this is that it's yet another way we can turn ourselves into victims and shirk personal responsibility. Sure, certain foods may have been formulated to be "irresistible" and they're readily available (think vending machines, coffee shops, ice cream parlours and fast food outlets) but they're only irresistible if you put them in your mouth.
  • Use a little will power and don't put them in your supermarket trolley and then you won't have a problem.

Read an excellent review of David Kessler's book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (Rodale)  by Tara Parker-Pope from the New York Times.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.