The latest debate in nutrition is food reward vs. low carb. The argument goes something like this: low carb works in practice, but Gary Taubes et al have the science of it wrong. A cause of obesity is getting a reward from eating certain foods, and overeating them. At least, that's how I understand it. And I find it puzzling.
Do people hit their mid-30s and suddenly start finding food more rewarding? That's when most people start putting on weight.
How is it that the French and Swiss, whose diets are well known for their wonderful taste, are thinner than Midwestern Americans, whose food is as bland as the Kansas prairie? And if food reward isn't about palatability, how do you know it's rewarding--because the subjects ate more of it? If they ate more of it because it's rewarding, then the argument is a tautology. Maybe I don't understand this part.
It seems that most of the "high-reward foods" are the ones that spike blood sugar--even in people without a metabolic problem. Falling blood sugar two hours later can make you hungry, tired or both. I see this all the time, even in young, thin people. Another thing: if you want more high-reward food like cookies or chips, all you have to do is grab another handful or put 75 cents in a vending machine. If you want another helping of so-called lower reward food, you'll probably have to spend some time and effort making it or more than 75 cents buying it. Eating real food and whacking out the junk carbs prevents mindless snacking. It also provides more nutrients--remember the part in Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes about obesity being a disease of malnutrition?
When I do find that something tastes good and eat past the point of being full, I usually have a few more bites. (Far more often, I get full and put away leftovers.) Since being on a low-carb diet, even when I'm hungry, I can usually put off eating for a few hours without discomfort. But back when I ate a high-carb diet, I was ravenous every few hours.
Finally, a tasty diet is easier to stick to. I've had enough canned tuna, cottage cheese and boneless, skinless chicken breasts--foods I ate when I was putting on weight--to last me the rest of my life. And if I started packing away the potatoes and pasta again, no matter how bland, I'm pretty sure I'd pack on a few pounds as well.