Why We Eat What We Eat -Book Recap

I’ve been on a challenging journey to try to cut back on sweets and curb my insatiable sweet tooth, so I downloaded Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food by Rachel Herz on my Kindle to learn a thing or two. Below are my notes/key takeaways:

  • One reason why food that looks artistic, interesting, and attractive is enjoyed more is because the appearance of food affects our expectation of how it will taste. We assume that the better food looks, the higher the quality and the more delicious it must be.
  • Translating calorie information into meaningful real-world energy expenditure has the greatest likelihood of success in reducing calorie consumption and encouraging healthier purchases. (i.e a soda or fruit juice of 250 cals takes 50 mins running or 5-mile walk to burn) – Yikes that’s a lot of expenditure for relatively little fulfillment!
  • Even though companies like Coca-Cola are advocating a “don’t eat less, just exercise more” lifestyle, it takes an unrealistic amount of activity for most people to counteract the American diet (i.e 2-hrs of working out to burn off a Big Mac).
  • All senses are involved when we eat. Tomato juice tastes better when flying because the pressurized cabin makes it hard to hear and hearing and taste are connected. It’s the same with loud music; it’s harder to tell how much alcohol is in the drink. Another takeaway is that dimmer lights have restaurant-goers taking their time and ordering more. Music can impact wine choice. Weight, shape, and color of the dishes that the food is served in effects our taste perception as well.
  • The shorter the distance between us and food, the more of it we eat. (Out of sight out of mind is actually true!)
  • Labels that downplay healthiness are often better for your health. We trick ourselves into eating more when labels say low fat or healthy.
  • The more common cause of endorphin release is the learned connections to comfort and pleasure that we have associated with certain dishes through our past experiences.
  • Stress makes high-calorie food more pleasurable and decreases the ability to make prudent decisions.
  • For young adults, just one bout of thirty minutes of moderate physical activity can improve mental capacity which may instill the willpower needed to resist food passions.
  • Be fully present while eating without other distractions to pay attention to flavor of food, how much you eat, and feeling of fullness.
  • Interacting with products that are ethically branded has the counter-intuitive effect of making us feel entitled to be greedy and immoral (this point was interesting to me–let me be kind to others!)
  • Food is more than taste or nutrition, it’s emotion.

I really enjoyed this book. It definitely made me more aware of my relationship with food.