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LostInParadise's avatar

Might bland food be related to obesity?

Asked by LostInParadise (31992points) October 3rd, 2010

Americans and, to an increasing extent, British have an overweight problem. Over the years, our foods have tended to get increasingly bland. There is not much flavor in a Big Mac or McNugget. I wonder if these things are related. What I am thinking is that if food had strong flavors it might take less of it to be satisfied. Maybe the reason that the French and Italians are not overweight is that their meals taste better. Most snack foods are heavy in salt, fat and sugar but not much else. Eating these foods is kind of like scratching a mosquito bite. There is temporary satisfaction, but then the itch just gets worse. So what do you think? Could we use yet another approach to dieting?

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15 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Actually, there are some diets that recomend spicy more flavorful food to help be more satisfied with smaller portions. My dad was trying this out for a while. I don’t think it works for him though, he just keeps eating.

ucme's avatar

It’s not the food in itself. More the copious amounts ingested, that’s the problem.

ragingloli's avatar

The opposite.
They pump today’s foods so full of flavour enhancers, that you naturally eat more of it. And then when you eat real food, it tastes bland to you, or not at all.
I once had a burger king burger with cheese. Let me tell you. That was no cheese.
After that I started getting my lunch from the butcher. Properly made German food. Fuck Burgerking/McDumb

Frenchfry's avatar

I say go ahead eat that cheeseburger, and fries. Just dont eat twelve. I used to think that about the chinese food. You don’t see many fat chinese people . If you concerned about weight order the salad not the Big Mac. It has nothing to do about spices . It has to do with amount like @ucme

Coloma's avatar

I think there are far too many factors that go into obesity to single out any one thing. As always, a combo plate and lots of gray areas.

People are born with differing amounts of fat cells, metabolic rates and other genetic influences. No ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to this health issue.

My philosophy is to truly ENJOY whatever it is you consume and pay attention.

Better to relish the cookie than to eat the carrot stick with joylessness! lol

Coloma's avatar

I also think that if we look at certain breeds of animals we see the same connections.

Certain dog & cat breeds are more prone to obesity as well.

Labrador retrievers and Goldens are prone to overweight and I have friends with 2 of the biggest, overweight cats I have ever seen. lol

I have heard that overweight is the last acceptable form of discrimination.

From someone who has been on both sides of the fat fence, once being 60 lbs. overweight, I think that empathy is in order and, watch out for that karma! lol

Years ago when my daughter was small I struggled with my weight, my ex sister-in-law was incredibly rude once and said to my face, ” Soooo…do you plan on being overweight forever?”

10 years later I was in peak condition, and SHE had put on 50 lbs. hahaha

Aaaah yes, the universe always makes sure that we ‘eat’ our words whenever we become a little too arrogant. lol

Ame_Evil's avatar

I don’t think it is as much as “blandness” but more of a lack of trying new foods. Some people are just content eating the same stuff and not experimenting with different flavours.

I know when I was younger I just ate the same crap and didn’t want to try new foods. Then somehow I changed. think I went to a friends house and they served chilli con carne that I didn’t like the look of but I ate it because I didn’t want to be rude and I ended up liking it. Anyways, since then i’ve started to enjoy trying new foods and that tends to make you eat more healthier things. At least healthier than the junky food before.

When looking at “eating disorders” on tv programmes when people had strange eating habbits – for example one person only ate chips – it seemed to be that the person doesn’t want to try new food and is repulsed from doing so. Also when they were (voluntarily) forced to eat some they didn’t like it one bit. I think this is more of the problem than the blandness you suggested. People just seem to be content with eating MacDos and pizza. Coupled with the fact you need to try some new foods like 8 times before you like it, its little surprise they don’t experiment.

rooeytoo's avatar

Sugar is the enemy and it is hidden in everything processed that we eat. My grandfather was a little guy and he ate so much it was unbelievable, but it was meat and veg with some potatoes. There was no sugar hidden anywhere.

Read the Food Tree (I should be getting a commission from this woman!) and you will be enlightened and lose weight and feel so much better and probably live longer too.

Coloma's avatar


I agree. Sugar is like Heroin. lol

YARNLADY's avatar

Hmmm, interesting point. Maybe if we put pepper sauce on everything we would all eat less.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Coloma – that is true, your pancreas and entire system learns to rely on it and makes you crave more and more. When you go without for a couple of days, you can actually feel the cravings diminish and with time disappear. Well not completely, I still have ice cream once a week or so but still maintain my lean mean playing weight!

Haleth's avatar

Most of the food we eat is highly processed. Think about the steps involved in making just a chocolate chip cookie. You have refined flour, butter, sugar, and chocolate chips… all of the ingredients have had something done to them before you even start baking.

It seems like the more “done” a food is, the more calories it has per volume. Here’s an example: for 200 calories, you could eat 385 grams of apples or 40 grams of M&Ms. The apples will make you more satisfied and full, but most of us would eat the m&ms. I try to eat as many raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins as I can.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I actually believe it’s the other way around. We’ve been conditioned, in a sense, to like more flavourful foods – many foods will have extra salts and sugars and things in them, things that we crave for some reason. So we eat more of it. If foods were “bland” (maybe think of plain steamed veggies for example – even though all of them aren’t bland when eaten plain), one is more likely to eat less because as soon as the appetite is satiated, the eating stops, because there’s no taste craving there that makes you want to eat more. I think this is at least true for me though, since i overeat because the food just tastes so darn good, usually because they contain things such as extra salt or condiments which in turn contain extra salts or sugars, or because it has lots of butter or cream in it etc. There’s no motivation to eat something “bland” once one is full.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t consider salt and sugar, beyond trace amounts, as flavor enhancers. What I was thinking of is satiation versus feeling full. Most of us who are overweight eat until we are full rather than when we are satiated. There have been times though when a meal is so satisfying that my stomach feels happy and in effect says not to ruin things by becoming full. It is that sense that I thought might be captured by having more flavorful foods, although @JLeslie says that in the case of her father that scheme did not work.

In terms of flavor, I am thinking of things like the way industrially produced chicken has less flavor than the free range variety and of how fresh vegetables are more flavorful than canned and how locally produced tomatoes are so much tastier than the usual grocery variety.

flutherother's avatar

I’m sure salt is a flavour enhancer as food tastes bland without it and our bodies crave sugar in all its forms. I agree with ragingloli fast foods such as McDonalds, Arbi’s and Pizzahut are designed to lead to overindulgence and the results are all too visible. Traditional foods such as bread, potatoes, oats or rice did not result in people becoming overweight as though they are bland they are not packed with fats and sugars and salts. In my opinion you can’t beat simple wholesome food well cooked, soup and bread for example but not many people agree and McDonalds did not become successful through selling soup.

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