Hooked Book Summary By Michael Moss

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Hooked (2021) is an examination of the complicated relationship between man and processed food.

It explains why we find it so hard to say no to certain foods, even though they're often unhealthy for us.

The book delves into our brain chemistry and evolutionary biology to uncover how fast-food companies have been using our natural yearnings against us.

Ultimately, Hooked (2021) presents a broad picture of the pervasive influence that processed foods have had on our lives, while also offering potential solutions to foster a healthier diet.

Hooked Book

Book Name: Hooked (Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions)

Author(s): Michael Moss

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio

Michael Moss is an acclaimed investigative journalist and an award-winning author.

He has achieved a great level of success due to his extensive research and in-depth reports.

In 2010, his work was even awarded with a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on contaminated hamburgers.

His latest book "Hooked: How Processed Food Took Over the American Diet" reached New York Times best seller list, thanks to its captivating narrative backed up by rigorous research.

Uncovering The Hidden Forces Behind Our Love Of Fast Food

Fast Food

Understanding the true cost of eating cheap fast food can be difficult if you don’t know how much control you have over what you eat.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you keep buying the same greasy burger whenever you pass by a fast-food restaurant on your way home? In Hooked: How Food Companies Exploit Human Psychology, we get an eye-opening look into human psychology and unravel why, and how, we ended up loving fast food in the first place.

From sugary cereals to highly processed potato chips, this book helps us understand exactly what sugar does to our brains and dives deeper into the devastating health risks associated with consuming unhealthy foods.

We learn about how a childhood habit of regularly eating junk food can translate into obesity as an adult and discover that not all calories are created equal in order for us to actually stay healthy.

This book is essential reading for anyone who wants a clearer understanding of the lasting effects of purchasing cheap fast food regularly.

While it may feel like we’re saving money in the short term, not taking control over our diets could lead to disastrous consequences down the line – something everyone should be aware of if they’re looking out for their long-term well-being.

Science Is Uncovering The Truth: Some Foods Are Addictive Just Like Drugs

As Yale graduate student Ashley Gearhardt was studying our relationship with food in 2007, she made a remarkable discovery.

People’s stories of powerful cravings and an inability to give up certain foods sounded incredibly similar to those told by people addicted to drugs or alcohol.

The scientific community is just beginning to understand precisely how our brain responds to certain foods.

Gearhardt created a survey, asking respondents whether they agreed with statements such as “I eat much more of certain foods than I planned” and “I feel sad or nervous when I stop eating certain foods.” Her survey results yielded astounding information – 15% of the American population met the criteria for being addicted to food.

Moreover, most were severely addicted and unable to control their cravings for unhealthy fare.

By introducing MRI scanning technology, researchers have gained incredible insight into how people’s brains work upon tasting their favorite eats.

What goes on inside the brain is truly amazing; when some people try fast food like cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and ice cream, their brains react in a manner that mirror taking cocaine!

It appears as if junk food triggers a response that causes us to seek more out of it.

Despite what some would have us believe, this doesn’t necessarily mean that junk food is addictive any more than other vices (e.g., drinking alcohol).

We can still enjoy these indulgences without becoming dependent on them – but it is important to remember that some people do get hooked on processed food and struggle with substance abuse issues associated with it due to addiction.

Thankfully science continues discovering more about why this happens so preventive measures may be taken in the future.

The Brain Controls Appetite: Addiction Can Be Fueled By The Speed Of Food Reaching The Brain

When it comes to appetite control, the traditional thinking suggests that what’s happening in our stomachs determines how hungry we are.

However, recent evidence appears to challenge this assumption: those who undergo bariatric surgery (which reduces the size of the obese person’s stomach) find their appetite remains strong even though they can only consume small amounts of food at a time.

This leads scientists to conclude that hunger is better explained with reference to the brain, rather than the stomach.

It is not just bariatric surgery patients who appear to be hooked on food; everyone seems vulnerable to addiction when it comes to certain substances – especially sugar, salt, and fat.

Unlike tobacco and crack cocaine, these three components of processed foods can affect our brains in as little as half a second.

This speed contributes directly to why so many people become addicted very quickly: sugar and fat literally hijack our brains before we have time to resist them!

Whatever your appetite is – whether healthy or unhealthy – you should bear in mind that what’s really controlling this is your brain and not necessarily your stomach.

Unfortunately, when addictive substances like sugar enter into equation, your brain can end up doing all the controlling.

Ultimately though, science has uncovered a vital truth about appetite control: that no matter your circumstances and especially with addiction involved – you should never underestimate how powerful your brain is when it comes to regulating your hunger levels!

How Childhood Eating Habits Can Shape Your Adult Cravings

Eating Habits

Do you have a fondness for processed foods? If this rings true, the author believes it can be traced back to your childhood eating habits.

It is thought that your brain creates permanent memories of any exciting experience you have.

These memories then become a physical connection between two neurons in your brain and are strengthened every time you may think about or repeat the experience itself.

The author argues that this neural pathway will be impacting your adult life as it makes it easier for you to unconsciously reach for processed food when presented with the opportunity.

Think of these pathways as riverbeds that flow deeper and further over time, confirming familiar feelings for these processed foods from your childhood such as sugar, salt and fat gratification.

Seeing a billboard advertising McDonald’s might incite more emotional reactions from those who have already established this neural pathway due to their childhood experiences compared to those who did not have some of these experiences.

It is suggested that if there was no recurrently formed fondness for McDonald’s as a child, its presence will not draw the same attention or excitement as those coming from someone whose neural pathways already associate it with comfort and pleasure due to an existing river bed created by past experiences.

Why We Can’t Resist Potato Chips: How Evolution Makes Us Overeat High-Calorie Foods

Throughout human evolution, the ability to survive extreme climates and fluctuations in temperature has been integral.

Our ancestors evolved to enjoy a wide range of high-calorie foods, from meat and fish to fruit, roots, leaves, and nuts – allowing them to easily feed themselves no matter the season or economic situation.

This love for variety meant that our ancestral diets provided the maximum diversity of nutrients necessary for human sustenance.

However, this same proclivity has today become its own undoing, leading us in turn towards unhealthy overconsumption of calorie-dense foods like potato chips.

The incredible number of varieties available on supermarket shelves make it all too easy to give in to temptation our modern palates are seeking out as we stumble blindly into numerous health complications.

Likewise, beyond taste but more insidiously inside our stomachs exists a deeper drive for these snacks that we can’t ignore either; an evolutionary call for calorie-rich tubers designed by natural selection aeons ago to ensure survival.

It is this very adaptation that allows us to subconsciously recognize certain ingredients as being healthy despite their empty calories and lack of flavor.

As much as they may be tempting us with deliciousness today, essentially it’s our own ancestries screaming out “this is good!

Eat more!

Feed energy back into your system!” every time we reach for a snack bar or package of chips – this time served up not with prehistoric spices but processed cheeses or artificial sweeteners instead!

The Processed Food Industry Exploits Our Changing Lifestyles To Make Us Indulge In Unhealthy Eating Habits

These days, modern families have less time to plan, shop and cook for meals – and this has given the processed food industry a unique opportunity.

Unlike in the past, when parents had to decide how much sugar, salt or fat should go into their family’s meals, now everything comes ready-made and heavily salted or presweetened.

This can seem like a great solution at first, but it often leaves families with little knowledge of what ingredients are actually in their food.

Take pizza, enchiladas and pot pies for example: They require no preparation but they all contain added sugar.

In fact, many grocery store products are three-quarters sugar!

The reason food makers add so much sugar to their products is because it triggers something called the ‘bliss point’.

This means that when something is sweet enough – our ‘stop brain’ that should remind us to stop eating gets disabled – leading us mindlessly eat more and more of the food.

Unfortunately, modern families turning to unhealthy convenience foods isn’t just bad for health – it also takes away from traditional and family recipes that used to represent cultural identities.

The Complex Connection Between Processed Foods And Weight Gain

Weight Gain

The processed food industry has been trying for years to reduce its unhealthy public image, even before Michelle Obama’s intervention.

Companies such as PepsiCo, Kelloggs and Coca-Cola formed the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and agreed to cut 1.5 trillion calories from their products, leading to a reduction in calories sold by these companies from 60.4 trillion to 54 trillion between 2007 and 2012.

But a study published in the Journal of Cell Metabolism suggests that cutting calories in processed foods may not be enough to prevent weight gain.

The study involved 20 participants who were fed both highly-processed and unprocessed diets for two weeks each.

Despite both diets having the same fat, sugar, salt and calorie content, the subjects still gained weight on the highly-processed diet.

This seems to suggest that our bodies are unable to accurately calculate how many calories are in highly-processed foods.

Without this information, your body’s metabolism cannot properly adjust fat storage or energy levels.

We can see then why reducing the number of calories in processed food might not solve the problem of weight gain after all.

Wrap Up

Hooked is a book that would make any parent or family member pause and reflect.

The key message of the book is that processed food gets us hooked in many different ways, from childhood memories to sheer convenience.

These ready-to-eat meals are not only bad for our digestive system but they can also lead to weight gain.

To combat this insidious hook of processed food, Hooked advises us to take the fun out of junk food.

We can do this by taking junk foods out of their attractive and colorful packaging and putting them into plain cookie jars instead.

By doing so, we reduce the allurement these yummy treats once had over our brains.

So don’t be too hard on yourself for succumbing to those tempting snacks every now and then; just make sure you follow the actionable advice from Hooked and take the fun out of junk food!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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