Strange Psychological Response to Sugary Food

By: Bel Marra Health | Diets | Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - 01:47 AM

weight lossDo you find sweet-tasting food items more appealing than other food products?  The search for that particular sweet taste has been a part of our nutrition and has influenced human behavior for centuries.  The sweet taste in certain food items may be comforting and appealing, yet its consumption may also increase one’s risk of obesity, based on the amount of calories that are associated with the intensity of sweetness.  For those aiming for weight loss, counting calories may be helpful in monitoring the amount of sugar consumed on a daily basis to ultimately decrease the risk of obesity.

Sweet Food and the Risk of Obesity

According to a recent report published in The Journal of Nutrition, the sweet taste in food items is generally difficult to dissociate with counting calories and weight loss, especially when the current cases of obesity are largely due to excessive consumption of sugar-rich or sweet items.  It is thus often misleading to think that eating non-sweet food items will always decrease the risk of obesity and would thus be an effective scheme for weight loss.

Picking healthy food items for weight loss based on the absence of a sweet taste can be confusing, especially when low-calorie sweeteners are now included in certain food items.  It is thus now possible to take your daily cup of sweetened coffee or tea without counting calories present in these beverages.  Diet soft drinks have also been designed to decrease the risk of obesity and increase the chances of weight loss.  When counting calories contained in each can of diet soda, it is possible to find that total amount of sugar may be lower, yet there are also other factors that influence the success in weight loss and decrease in the risk of obesity.

Watch the Labels: What is Making Your Weight Loss Battle Misleading

It is misleading to consume food items that do not have a sweet taste to decrease the risk of obesity and forego counting calories.  Unfortunately, food items that are not sweet may also be high in fats, such as chips and other junk food.  It is thus important to understand that the absence of a sweet taste in a food item does not automatically mean that the risk of obesity is lower and that one can stop counting calories when eating these food items.

One concern that was highlighted in the medical report involves the connection of sweetness and the sensory pleasure of eating.  Based on scientific investigations on brain activities during eating, tasting sweet food results in the activation of the brain, which in turn stimulates various parts of the body for digestion and pleasure.  The sweet taste stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth, which contains enzymes that help in the breakdown of complex sugars into simpler molecules.  Tasting sweetness also activates the stomach to secrete digestive enzymes that increases the feeling of hunger.  These physiologic responses to tasting something sweet may thus play a major role in nutrition, and choosing non-sweet tasting food items while vigilantly counting calories may thus result in a loss of appetite for some individuals.  A significant decrease in the amount of food intake may be beneficial for people with a high risk of obesity and are thus in need of weight loss, but this decrease in appetite may also damage the health of people who simply need nourishment for their bodies.

Counting calories appears to be an important factor in the success in weight loss and decreasing the risk of obesity.  Counting calories may be a direct measure of the amount of energy that may be derived from specific food items and thus may be more reliable than basing food choices on the sweetness of food.  The choice in food items consumed on a regular basis may be influenced by tasting sweetness, but when eating is coupled with daily exercise and rest, then the risk of obesity may be decreased and weight loss may be easier to achieve.  Certain fruits and vegetables can provide that sweet taste that we crave, allowing us to focus on our goal of weight loss and lower our risk of obesity.  Counting calories based on the consumption of fruits and vegetables may also be less distressing, since these food items are rich in vitamins and fiber.


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