Why You Can Never Have “Just One”

A few weeks ago I was attending a work BBQ and decided to try to make a vegan cheese dip out of butternut squash. 

It was a complete experiment and after tinkering around in the kitchen and altering the flavour so many times I could barely taste anything anymore, I honestly wasn’t sure if I was even pleased with the final result. So naturally I brought it to my colleagues and asked them to taste-test. Point being: I didn’t have a lot invested in this dip so I really wasn’t going to be offended if people didn’t like. More so, I was genuinely curious if I had created something accidentally delicious or if it was closer to baby food than cheese dip. Over the course of the afternoon, most of the people at the barbeque came up to me to compliment the dip, which I was super surprised and excited about!

…That was until the end when I saw that almost half of the dip was still left over. A little confused (and unreasonably offended) I packed the rest up and went home.

The more I thought about it I was struck by the difference between how people reacted to this kind of vegan “cheese dip” versus cheese dips we are accustomed to which are often a combination of several high-fat, high processed cheeses and cream cheese (Or worse! That fake packaged nacho cheese sauce in which plastic is probably higher up on the ingredient list than cheese itself.)

The more I mulled it over, the more I realized that at any dinner/potluck/barbeque I’ve ever attended, the food smothered in cheese or fat is generally the first to disappear off the table. I think we can all agree that we are kidding ourselves when we decide to eat “just one nacho”. But what is it about high fat and processed products that make us feel that way? Why don’t we have this same reaction to “healthier foods”? This addictiveness we feel when eating food high in fat and salt or sugar cannot simply be attributed to the fact that it may “taste better”. No matter how good a bowl of veggies and dip is, we somehow manage not to gulp down the entire thing in some sort of trance like we might if it were a bowl of chips or cookies in front of us. What is that overwhelming urge to finish the entire bag of chips? Where does it come from?

Foods with a high combination of fats and salts often have the ability to trick our bodies into thinking we can eat way more than we actually can. Our brains are excited by the spike in energy that fats, salts and sugars bring and want as MUCH as possible as FAST as possible while our bodies reap the consequences. This is because to a certain extent, our minds are still programmed the way they were back when we were hunter/gatherers with no concept of where or when the next meal would come. This tricky combination of fats, sugars and salts is why it is often easier to crave foods that will spike our energy levels rather than fuel us for longer periods of time.

After realizing this, I understood that no one was lying that they liked the dip I made but that when food is higher in nutrients rather than fat, it took less for them to feel satisfied and they didn’t have that same NEED to finish the entire bowl. Eating foods that value flavor over addictive additives such as high trans fats, refined sugars and heaps of salt allow us to actually listen to our bodies and understand the limits of our eating. Especially now, living in a world where we are lucky enough to have an abundance of food, we need to adapt to a new way of eating where we have to work harder and think smarter about how to fuel our bodies with good foods rather than reaching for the copious amounts of processed foods high in fat sugar and salt and are usually easiest to get to.

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