The End of Overeating, by David Kessler

I’ve read several books about how we get our food and how we eat — books like Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, for example — both because I’m interested at a personal level about how to live my life differently, but also because I’m interested in the public health & sustainability implications.

Kessler spends a fair bit of time going over pretty well-trod ground about how manipulative the US food industry is — how they layer fat, salt and sugar relentlessly in order to get us to chronically overeat — what he calls conditioned hypereating. That all seems right to me, but has been covered in a lot of other books & films.

The more interesting part of the book deals with how our brain reacts to stimulus and why we do things that we know won’t give us what we want or need (like eating that cookie instead of an apple). Here’s how to sum it up:

“To control our brains, we have to be mistrustful of our brains. We have to recognize they are the vehicle to invite us to do things that at some point in our evolutionary past may have been very useful, but have gotten completely out of control.”

About the 2nd half of the book deals with our brains and psychologies and suggests ways to get in control — not really like a self-help book would, but more trying to describe what often happens, so that you can notice it and do something about it.

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