Your Bliss Point….

How Processed Food Manufacturers Get You Hooked to Their Products….

I recently posted about how food portion sizes and calories are much higher in the United States compared to England.  The same exact products in the U.S. have substantially more calories!  Seems hard to believe but it’s true.  Why?   It’s due to something known as the bliss point. 

What’s the Bliss Point?

To maximize your enjoyment of processed foods, the food industry works hard to formulate their products to maximize the endorphins rush.  Scientists use focus groups to try out different recipes before a product is released.  These scientists tweak salt, sugar and fat content until the maximum enjoyment level is reached.  This means the greatest number of endorphins produced.   There’s a fine line between maximum enjoyment and too much.  Scientists call the point of maximum enjoyment the bliss point, beyond it, the yuck point.    

Sounds A Lot Like Drugs?

 If you think this sounds similar to drugs, you are right.  It’s a substance that gives the maximum pleasure possible and provides instantaneous gratification.  However, not long after, the crash and cravings start.   I cannot open a bag of potato chips or Doritos and have just a few.  I finish the entire bag.  You too????  To some extent, it’s because of my genetic pre-disposition to always want more.  However, it’s also due to how products are manufactured, making it almost impossible to have just one or a few.

Portion Size and Taste in the United States

The person credited with pioneering research into the bliss point and how it can be manipulated was carried out by Howard Moskowitz, a Harvard educated scientist who went to work for the soda industry in 2004.    After working for years in the soda industry, Moskowitz developed bliss point markers for other industries and products including spaghetti sauce, soups, salad dressings, pickles, and pizza.   Over time, as you consume more sugar, your bliss point continues to change.  It takes more sugar to achieve the same endorphin rush.  Hence, the palate of Americans has changed over time as sugar has been included in an increasing number of products.   More sugar, more calories.  Not just calories but empty calories without any nutritional value.    

What’s the Solution?

Cover of Spiritual Adrenaline..

The solution is eating more whole foods and staying away from processed foods.   It’s also possible to satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sweeteners, some of which contain antioxidants and other healthy substances, and which won’t spike your blood sugar.   If you’re interested in learning how to eat healthy to enhance your recovery and reduce the chances of relapse, check out my book, Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery.   In Spiritual Adrenaline, I discuss why it’s important to transition from processed foods to whole foods and provide a number of healthy sweeteners as an alternative to refined sugars (Pages 23-25, 89-92).  To empower yourself in recovery, check out Chapter Nine and my list of Recovery Superfoods.  For more information, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

 References:  The Extraordinary Science of Addiction Junk Food, The New York Time Magazine, Michael Moss, Feb. 20, 2013; How The Food Industry Helps Engineer Our Cravings, National Public Radio, Dec. 16, 2015.

SOULFEST Music Festival: The Importance of Music to Your Recovery

Here’s a video from Soulfest 2016, a faith-based music festival in New Hampshire.  I explain the importance of music to my recovery and hope that it makes you think about how music, social media, movies, video games and other everyday parts of our life can either enhance, or undercut, your attempt to stay sober.