The Healthy Skeptic Podcast – Episode 10

May 24, 2011 in Diabesity, Podcasts | 53 comments

ths podcast logoThis week we’re happy to have Stephan Guyenet from Whole Health Source back to discuss the body fat set point and food reward theories of obesity and weight regulation.

Questions covered include:

  • How does the food reward system work? Why did it evolve?
  • Why do certain flavors we don’t initially like become appealing over time?
  • How does industrially processed food affect the food reward system?
  • What’s the most effective diet used to make rats obese in a research setting? What does this tell us about human diet and weight regulation?
  • Do we know why highly rewarding food increases the set point in some people but not in others?
  • How does the food reward theory explain the effectiveness of popular fat loss diets?
  • Does the food reward theory tell us anything about why traditional cultures are generally lean?
  • What does this all mean from a practical perspective? How can these theories be applied to regulate weight and improve metabolism?

Click here to read all of Stephan’s recent posts on the food reward concept.


{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Razwell May 24, 2011 at 10:32 am

Excellent podcast. A thank you to all involved. I wonder if Dr. Jeffrey Friedman would come on too? I know both he and Stephan are working very hard on this subject. They both are genuine scientists with a lot of good information

Best Wishes,


Jocelyn May 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Wow! This was enlightening. I have witnessed the industrial food reward system design of the Coca Cola product work it’s magic on a very close family member very recently. She is in the hospital recovering from big time cancer surgery and was craving a Coke. Well, they brought her the diet Shasta version, and that just wouldn’t do. And, I thought a cola was a cola was a cola. Apparently, that just isn’t so, and they design it that way, don’t they. Now, I am remembering Robert Lustig talking about the Coca Cola guys who carry the secret recipe in their heads not being allowed to fly in an airplane at the same time…


Stabby May 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Yay! This is like geek heaven. Stephan is always top-notch and this one was even better than the first HS podcast.

Although I think that Stephan has to fight The Kraken. Only by slaying The Kraken can he assert his reign over nutrition podcast geekdome. The Kraken may be huge, but his weakness is what Stephan’s strength is…sprouted buckwheat. It’s anybody’s game.


Nick June 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

sounds more like a weakness.. I will take the Kraken vs. Anyone Anyday of the week!


Becky Leppard May 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I just finished listening to Stephan and this was very very interesting. I enjoy hearing the different theories about changing the set point of the amount of fat our bodies carry. My one question is if someone is trying to change the set point by going on a diet that he describes of being very bland and gently cooked veggies, would the set point be changed back to allowing more fat, if the body started consuming foods that were more satisfying and gratifying?


STG May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Not all post-menopausal women gain weight. Estrogen can also result in weight gain in younger women. I think to argue that estrogen effects leptin and therefore might be an appropriate treatment for post-menopausal women after menopause is speculative and warrants clincial trials and more science.

I appreciate Stephan’s wisdom about whole food diets and his theory on food rewards is an interesting hypothesis.

Chris, thank you for bring up the importance of metabolism. Obviously, if one has a damaged metabolism (e.g., prediabetic, diabetic, insulin resistance . . . .) a higher carbo diet with lots of potatoes or rice (even though whole foods) might not be healthy.

Chris, it would be really interesting to have Stephan and Gary Taubes in a podcast discussing different dietary perspectives.

Your Podcasts are so informative–Thank You!


Emily Deans May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Great podcast! I have a lot of experience treating addictions and I can tell you there is basically only one way that works well – getting rid of availability. There are a variety of ways to achieve that final common pathway – creating a cognitively supportive abstinence environment, blocking reward pathways, partially activating reward pathways so the addictive substance can’t activate it…


JanP May 25, 2011 at 6:20 am

He is an exceptionally smart guy! Keep on bringing us those elite podcasts! Bring on Friedmann and Petro!


JoelG May 25, 2011 at 6:33 am

I liked the point about the flood of excessive stimuli in modern life. We recently switched from one of the old cathode ray tube TVs to a large flat-screen, and I’ve noticed that my kids seem to be asking for TV shows more frequently than they used to. It would be interesting to see a study in which people were “unplugged”–i.e. forced to give up their iPhones, iPads, laptops, Wii systems, big-screen TVs, etc.–for a period of time, and to then track whether this had any impact on weight/the set point.

As Taubes frequently points out, exercise isn’t the weight-loss panacea that people often make it out to be. Could it be, then, that couch potatoes gain more weight, not because they’re sedentary, but in part because they continually flood their reward systems with excessive stimuli from the likes of World of Warcraft, TV shows (and, of course, junk food)? Hmmm…


Kathy May 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

AAARRRRRGGHHH!!!!! All that time and you recommend ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT to maintain leanness after menopause?????? That’s IT??? Don’t you know that is the FIRST thing most of us TRY?! It almost NEVER HELPS!!!!!

And yes, I realize I am yelling. But a full hour of meandering observations to get to THAT really pushed me over the edge this a.m.


Chris Kresser May 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

Apparently you missed the other 58 minutes which went into great detail about how to use the food reward theories discussed to reset the body fat setpoint and lose weight.


Tom May 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Yes, apparently so. FWIW, I listened to it twice. That said, I thought your discussion of setpoint regarding the one study of tube feeding of lean/obese people seemed to skip over a point that could further explain those dramatic results (sample size aside). If the food reward mechanism’s evolutionary basis is improving survival in the face of uncertain food supplies, then the obese patients are mobilizing energy reserves to meet energy demands because the “unrewarding” food is not flipping the right switches to eat more (owing to some neuro-biochemical “judgment” of nutrient content/safety). Conversely, it would appear that the brains of the lean subjects were potentially making neuro-chemical “risk management” decisions to eat more of the unrewarding (potentially harmful/poisonous, as far as the brain knows) food because the lean person does not have the fat reserves to meet energy demands and minimize the “risk” posed by the unrewarding (potentially poisonous)) food.


Chris Kresser May 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

And for the record I do not recommend estrogen replacement. There are better ways to control hormone balance than taking supplemental hormones.


Kathy May 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

I see. To lose weight post menopause, you should
1. eat rat chow through a tube, and
2. do something about your estrogen levels–not estrogen replacement, mind you, but . . . just . . . something . . . better.

Got it.


simona May 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Dr. Deans mentioned ways to break food addiction. How does one block reward pathways?


Jeff May 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Wonderful podcast, this is actually a topic I have subconsciously been wrestling with ever since I started eating paleo. Though, as Stephen mentioned, there is much variety across the paleo spectrum with regard to what you should and shouldn’t eat. I personally always decided exactly what is ok and not ok based on how much my body craved after eating a certain food. In fact, despite all fruit being ok in my book, most tangerines and oranges cause my to crave and thus I don’t eat them. Despite being fruit, the food reward is too high.

One thing Stephen did say that I slightly disagree with was his perspective regimen for helping people lose weight (the progressively lower scales of palate-ability on down to potatoes). I personally fail the most on paleo following a ‘failed’ cooking experiment or not eating enough because my body was left unsatisfied. My body needed more food reward and now will go any where to get it. I’m sure you know this Chris, but this is why I try to slightly over eat at every meal. My body is not only satisfied, it is slightly over satisfied and thus will not crave until my next meal (I intermittent fast). If I eat low amounts of low rewarding foods, my body is not satisfied (not to mention I probably didn’t get the nutrients I needed either). In a theoretical vacuum, the idea may be sound, but if I’m in an unsatisfied state and walking around town and smell burgers and ice cream my likelihood of giving in will be high. Where as if I had eaten (better yet, slightly over eaten!) a balanced food reward meal, such temptations are effortless to forgo.

So personally, I feel a balanced food reward level (no processed foods, fruits and good tasting cooked meals) combined with slightly overeating during less periodic meals would be much more successful that simply lowering the food reward level on a long term basis in the real world. And this does sort of jive with what Stephen said earlier in the blog about how when you’ve just eaten several large meals your body will want to tend in the opposite direction towards lessening fat in order to get back to its perceived ‘normal’. And I personally have experienced great results with this.

I would be curious to hear your thoughts on this Chris. In summation; Is eating a extremely low food reward diet simply unrealistic in a world wrought with high reward temptations? Should you be able to mimic the effect of a real low food reward diet by slightly overeating a couple times a day on a more moderate or maybe even high food reward diet?


Jan May 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm

So interesting. What a great podcast and so timely for me…

Today a trainer and I were chatting with a girl in the gym. The girl is 24 and pretty heavy. She and I have been working out (4 or 5 x per week aerobics, interval and weight training). The trainer is 50, I am 40. The trainer and I are fairly lean and quite fit. The girl has stalled in her weight loss. She was talking to the trainer and I about it. We were trying to get her to cut out the “tasty” foods. The trainer was remarking that the instructor who’d just put us through a tough tabata workout and is older than all of us, but lean and muscular, eats really clean – low carb, lots of fresh food, etc. We were telling this girl how we – older and leaner folks – eat.

This girl kept saying – I’m taking baby steps, and “I feel really good about my training,” etc etc. But she defends her terrible diet by saying: I have to live! I’m 24, gee whiz, i have to have fun. etc etc.

It was kind of shocking, but I don’t think she’s alone in not wanting the “wake up call”. I was trying to explain (gently) that I don’t work out because it helps control my weight. I work out because it’s a stimulant. It’s addictive and it’s my version of prozac. I control my weight with my diet. She does not want to hear this. Literally, I can’t tell if the look she gives me is sad, or doubtful, or both.
What I’ve found is that the only way to control weight gain is ensuring that my palete is rewarded by healthy food. The only way to do that is to completely eliminate rewarding food that is high calorie/low qualilty. Well…here’s how: just get hungry enough and celerly + fish tastes AMAZING! :D
You simply have to retrain your tastebuds.

I have no idea why this young beautiful girl – so clearly overweight – would not listen to two older, super fit and lean women. The trainer said, if I was going on vacation in two weeks, I’d just cut chocolate and I can see my abs. For me, I take out chocolate (which i eat every day 90% cacao) and avacados and the same thing happens. Instant abs. (We’ve both had kids too. The young lady has not.)

This girl has 30 or 40 lbs extra and as I say, we’ve been working out HARD since last year – 4 or 5 times a week. She says she sees a difference, but sadly, I don’t. If I worked as hard as she did and was still so big, I hope I’d get the point. But…again – she said “I have to live” and to me that sounds like she feels like she’d be a tube-fed rat… not a happy existence.

I don’t know how to teach folks that our paletes are highly trainable. I think of folks I’ve seen in China eating bugs on a stick and LOVING them. :)

A reward is a reward. These days, I tend to think of long distance running (which I love) as cocaine (which I don’t). I totally agree with what he said about “associations.” If you want to train yourself to LOVE and CRAVE some sort of food… just wait until you are hungry to eat it. YUM YUM to whatever you cram in your piehole at that point. (I do IF too, find it extremely effective at this.)

But, this girl thinks that what she needs to do is add a weekend workout… She thinks the extra workout will break her current weight loss plateau. But her diet can’t change because, as she says: she’s too young not to enjoy life. I just sighed and said yes, you have to live.

As I’ve aged, I’ve aged well. The athleticism I’ve enjoyed has come as a result of my a) addictive nature and b) my good low carb diet. But, I hate it when people look at me and think i’m not overweight because I workout. Or, they think I’m fit because I workout. Wrong.

The saddest thing is that this lovely young lady is setting herself up to NEED hormone help and other medical interventions with her refusal not to “live” during her youth.

It’s quite simple – as Stephan said – plain, monotonous food. High quality.

That’s the other thing the trainer said to this girl… I eat the same thing every day.
I nodded along at this comment- yup. I also eat the same thing every day.

Simple simple – 5 or 6 days a week. bland, gentle, healthy, filling.

Weirdly, I don’t feel denied or short changed.
Make your rewards healthy ones – meditation accesses dopamine response and celery is absolutely delicious when you are hungry.

Strangely, I just feel so happy when I eat – I eat to satiety and beyond and I feel so darned contented. I don’t think about it. But I don’t struggle with weight as they do. I don’t take anti depressants, as they do.

Folks think I haven’t gotten fat because I work out. So much so that this girl thinks that my weekend training is why i’m super fit and she’s not. I try to tell her – it’s diet but people are so afraid that they will live the tube feeding life if they eat bland food, every day. My diet allows me to workout and that’s my reward system! (Just so long as I don’t overdo it – easy to do and a huge vice for me).

Oh well…I gave her Gary Taubes book. Maybe she will “reward” herself with knowledge :)

Regarding the hormone replacement thing, here’s something that I thought was interesting…

I think that a little *self* *care* might be super important for keeping your oxytocin levels high, and it may help your estrogen levels too. I wonder if there’s a feedback loop with estrogen and oxytocin. The article above seems to show that estrogen admin could stimulate oxytocin response…

Because both oxytocin and estrogen are involved in similar function, couldn’t stimulating the release of one impact the other. Sorry for the digression, but while I’ve not heard that Self care helps older ladies with hormone replacement, it CAN’T be a bad thing… positively therapeutic for some more uptight post menopausal ladies. :) great podcast – thanks


Unleash the Kraken! May 25, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Thanks, gents. I enjoyed learning about Stephan’s ideas, but they are not very consistent with my own experience. (I know, N = 1…) I find my high-fat, low-carb diet to be much more palatable than the standard American diet (or the high-carb diets promoted by the medical establishment), but the former diet keeps me lean while the latter leaves me chunky.

I second the request for a battle royale between Stephan and the Kraken.


Henry D May 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm


I realize it’s not as dark as some of us prefer, but it was not bad. It’s thus far my favorite gluten-free beer. I’d like to hear your (and others) favorite(s).

Great show,

Henry D


Henry D May 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Just realized I did not include the beer name or link.'s&Ntx=mode%2bmatchall&Dx=mode%2bmatchall&Ntk=All&Nty=1&Ntt=green's&N=0&ProductID=24633
Green’s Discover Amber Gluten Free


Peter Silverman May 26, 2011 at 5:58 am

When I was in the Peace Corps I ate breadfruit cooked in coconut oil three times a day for two years, got very skinny. I ate enough so I wouldn’t be hungry and stopped. Now, with a thousand kinds of food to choose from I eat the ones I like the best and wish I was thinner!


Allison May 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Will you be writing more about your n=3 experiment with coconut and MCT oil? I am curious about the details.


Kyle May 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I thought the topic of gently cooking foods was interesting. You mention anything with water or low heat is best, does a pressure cooker count? It has lots of water!


CK May 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Hey Chris,

Just found your website through Robb Wolf and LOVE what you have to say.

I was wondering if you could offer some insight on a digestive problem I’ve been having. I’ve added sweet potatoes to my Paleo diet (cutting out the fruit) and find that I’m very bloated, gassy and crampy about 3-4 hours later. I know it’s the sweet potato. Is there a way to “fix” this in my gut? I much prefer the sweet potato to the fruit.

Thanks Chris – looking forward to hearing your podcast tonight on UW!


Chris Kresser May 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

There are a number of reasons someone may not tolerate sweet potatoes. One reason is the oxalate content. Another is that you may not tolerate starch, which would suggest an imbalance in gut flora. In that case I’d suggest the GAPS diet. If you tolerate other starches (plantains, taro, yuca, white rice, etc.) but not sweet potatoes, that’s more suggestive of oxalate intolerance.


Uncle Herniation May 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

Or it could be that your gut flora is just not adapted to sweet potatoes. I cut out white potatoes for a really long time, and when I started eating them again, I also got very gassy, crampy, and bloated. After a couple of weeks, these symptoms went away and I again tolerate white potatoes with no problem.


CK May 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks Chris for taking the time to answer my question.

Maybe an oxalate intolerance because I do fine on white rice and plantains (will try taro/yuca).

Can you “fix” an oxalate intolerance? Not sure if it matters, but I have Hashimoto’s.

Thank you for your comments Uncle H!

Again, thank you for this fantastic information you put out. I wish I’d had your Healthy Baby product before my daughter was born. What an awesome, awesome program.


James May 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I agree with this. A lot of people cut out lots of foods when they think one gives them problems. With enough time of avoidance the system stops pumping out as much digestive enzymes associated to digest that food. You have to gradually re-introduce the food in small amounts over time and let the body adapt.


Lauren May 27, 2011 at 7:02 am

All that about losing weight by eating bland, gently cooked foods was very interesting especially since I just started GAPS intro…talk about bland and gently cooked. I am doing it to try to heal an autoimmune issue but now I am looking forward to the weight loss!
Thank you both for the amazing work that you do. I rely on both of you to help me find better health.


cl May 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I’m excited by this work on food reward — it’s promising. While it is very important to understand effective methods of weight loss, I’m concerned that other aspects of health (anti-cancer, anti-aging) are being neglected in this conversation. Drinking sugar water? Seriously?

Seth Roberts is no longer at UC Berkeley, and in any case, his work does not represent a standard implementation of the scientific method. Seth’s work includes self-experimentation, which we all do, but self-experimentation can never be anything more than an a source of hypotheses.


cl May 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm

…and anti-heart disease. Weight loss doesn’t seem desirable unless you are also decreasing diseases of civilization, such as heart disease. If the lipid hypothesis is wrong (and it is), and carbs are the problem (are they?), then what do we eat? Is there any evidence that weight loss in and of itself deceases heart disease?


Matt June 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I don’t know why so much of this didn’t click for me before now, but I find myself thinking “yeah…oh yeah….” through most of this podcast. I am DEFINITELY someone who is highly susceptible (a victim…) of the reward system for food.

I’d love more expansion on the discussion of how to break the junk food/fast food habits. These days, I’m resorting to leaving home without any cash or ATM card to try to make temptation a non-issue.


Summer June 2, 2011 at 10:42 am

This podcast was so enlightening!!

Quick question – do you feel the results that you saw with the MCT’s was because they increase thermogenesis? Or purely due to the food reward system? Or a bit of both? I’d love to hear more about your perspective on this.

Keep up your amazing contributions to the world of nutrition and health.


Rob Is June 2, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I’ve really been enjoying your PodCasts since I “discovered” you via your guest appearance on Robb Wolf’s.
I have to admit this one bummed me out a bit though.

After 9 months of restricting my diet to a greater greater degree to then hear that bland food is what I need to eat to reset my fat point was the last thing I wanted to hear. I like tasty food. I enjoy enjoying it with wine. I use it as part of my 9 steps to perfect health: practicing pleasure and relaxation. Food is frequently is an important part of my social life and I attempt to have long, leisure meals that have meaning and are full of enjoyment– not tasteless and bland.

Luckily, I’m not obese and have only a moderate amount of fat.

That said, the thing that bothers me the most is that I’ve been trying to digest Taubes and everything that was spoken about today was in conflict with those theories: calorie restriction critical and macro nutrients meaningless.

The contradictions floating around between all these smart people (Lalonde, Kressler, Wolf, Taubes) is starting to make my head spin.

Now there’s the study regarding moderate fructose intact being GOOD for fat loss. Wha?

Will next week be whole grains?

There were some interesting ideas talked about today. I’m hoping that I don’t have to actually act on most of them… Especially the tube feeding! :-)


AB June 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hello Chris,

You previously posted about “3 eggs a day to keep the doctor away”. In conjunction with the “gentle cooking methods” approach mentioned in the podcast, do you think fried/scrambled eggs should be avoided as a staple.

I eat 4-6 whole eggs per day that are fried or scrambled. Poached eggs are somewhat inconvenient to make.

What do you think about boiled eggs as an alternative? Or eat the yolks raw and fry the whites?



Nate June 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Wow. I am into paleo and I agree with the scientific basis layed out by Taubes and others for decreasing grains and processed foods etc. but the gist of this interview is COMPLETELY f**d up. The main message that I am hearing is, make your food completely monotonous and basically remove all pleasure from eating. I am seriously offended by this proposition. Humans are epicurean by nature, food is an essential and universal source of enjoyment. To suggest that the ideal diet should ignore this is completely off the mark and really, really disturbing to me. What is wrong with you people??? Eating good healthy food should be a deeply enjoyable experience. Your premise is that all flavourful or “rewarding” foods are the result of a decades old processed food stream that we all agree is terrible for you. Have you never had an amazingly prepared meal that uses whole, naturally produced foods and is also really rewarding?? I have been a professional cook for a good part of my life and I can’t accept that optimal nutrition is synonymous with minimal taste. Its fine if you want to live a life of gastronomical austerity but please don’t use pseudo science to convince others that this is the best way to eat healthy.


Chris Kresser June 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

There’s no pseudo-science here. Stephan is one of the most knowledgable researchers in the field of weight regulation. Everything we discussed is supported by the evidence. I think you’re taking things a little too literally. First, we were talking about weight loss – not a general approach. Second, a Paleo diet (no matter how you prepare the food) is low on the food reward scale (from the brain’s perspective) compared to the SAD. That was the point. No one says your food can’t be appetizing. I’m a foodie myself and spend a lot of time on food preparation. I do not eat a bland, unpalatable diet and don’t suggest anyone else do either. Settle down.


Nate June 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm

apologies for being aggressive. I just keep encountering rhetoric in the paleo world that suggests that we disregard the concept that food should be a culturally significant and sensual experience that is both social and deeply sensual which to me is a bit of an extreme reaction to modern processed food production. I do maintain that Stephan is arguing some points in this interview that do at least border on psuedo science. He admits that what he purports are just theories and his logic that the best path to weight management is limiting “rewarding” foods seems pretty loose to me. You can’t convince me that most people who manage to maintain a healthy weight do so due to a lack of rewarding and enjoyable foods in their diet (although it is of course one way, just not the best way in my opinion). Since I started eating paleo (esque) nearly 2 months ago I have lost 10 pounds and I have done so while eating ONLY foods that are extremely rewarding to me (that is to say high in umami, animal fat, fresh fruits and vegetables cooked well). For me its a matter of training yourself to have an appreciation for foods that are both deeply satiating and nutritionally dense at the same time. This is really not difficult because these are the things our bodies crave naturally. Bacon and avocados, Palak ghosht (pakistani style goat with spinach), Vietnamese marinated pork with grilled asparagus and mushrooms are just a few examples of my daily diet that do not ignore flavor. I’m not willing to throw away hundreds of years of culture and civilization in pursuit of optimal nutrition. Nor should anyone have to. That’s my only argument. Stephan gives many examples on his blog of hunter gatherer tribes that live in food scarce environments that eat really miserable sounding diets. He gives these as prime examples of why we should try to eat more like them for optimal health. I take issue with that. There is clearly something in between subsisting on tubers and ostrich eggs cooked in soot and mcdonalds and cheetos that will result in a well balanced healthy lifestyle. Many paleo enthusiasts seem not to acknowledge that.


J June 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Cooked in soot? I’ve never heard anyone recommend doing that. I have heard that gently cooking your ostrich eggs is a good idea…mmmm poached ostrich eggs.


Nate June 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm

bushmen in Namibia cook ostrich eggs as well as ruminant animals in hot ashes and dig these foodstuffs out of the fire in order to satisfy their nutritional needs. Just because it has been done for a long period of time does not mean it is a good idea.


J June 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Really?! That’s cool. I remember my parents took us camping and they would crack an egg into an orange peel and then wrap it in foil and stick it in the bbq coals. The egg would take on the orangey flavor. It was soooooo good and not even close to over cooked. As long as you pull the egg out before you destroy it with heat, I’m sure it’s wonderful. Thanks for teaching me something today, Nate.


Nate June 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I prefer a hot skillet and some bacon grease, but to each their own. :) I really am not trying to be antagonistic! I just want to make a case for culture and gastronomy. With that in mind I would love to try your orange trick…


J June 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I love me some bacon grease and a hot skillet, too. Had some this morning. My brother is a chef. I handed him paleo ingredients last night for the family barbeque. He did it up right. I would say the reward value of that meal was pretty high for me. Definitely a positive experience for all involved, so I see your point.

J June 19, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Ok, I found the Anthony Bourdain video – the worst meal of his life. I think I see what you’re getting at.


Nate June 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

yeah, eating unwashed, barely cooked wilderbeast intestines, live beetles from thorny bushes and wasting perfectly good ostrich eggs by throwing them into a pile of soot and dirt is really sad. I wonder if there is a high incidence of mental illness and cognitive disabilities in that tribe, who, to be fair has been pretty well s**t upon and forced into the crappiest land available over the centuries, leaving them with few options. What really disturbs me however is the western/modern guy who chooses to marry into this culture and join in in the misery instead of trying to teach these people some more sophisticated methods of survival. Cultural relativism can only go so far in my opinion.


Nate June 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I’m sorry, warthog intestines, it had been a while since I had watched that episode. You got me, I am a big Anthony Bourdain fan.


J June 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

The beatles looked delicious. Anthony seemed to like them. But, when you’re really hungry, things taste extra good.

Kevin June 19, 2011 at 5:45 am

I figured this out a long time ago. I call this Recreational eating. I would tell my friends to recognize when they were eating for fun vs eating to live.
Once you bring the difference to consciousness you gain a bit more control.
I found that eating leftovers cold would help disarm some of the hyper tasty factors. When cold SAD food is almost putrid and it makes you wonder why you would ever eat it at all, you can taste strange things that were undetectable when it was warm. Paleo/Good foods are still tasty cold.

I almost never over eat when the food is cold. When its hot I can get caught up in the recreational event. Makes me crazy when I’m eating a yummy meal and I wasn’t hungry to begin with.


Nate June 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm

What is wrong with eating for fun? Eating SHOULD be fun. Why “disarm” “hyper tasty factors”? that’s really weird to me. Eat things that are good and enjoy the experience, just don’t eat garbage. Don’t you imagine our ancestors came around to eating things like berries and nuts and cooked meat because they tasted better than the alternatives? Why should we not augment that in any way we can with the exception of making frankenfoods that are completely outside the natural food system?


trina July 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

This was an interesting discusion, but if you want a “how to” for this, then read The Shangrila Diet.
part of that, which they didn’t elaborate on, was that completely new foods also did not stimulate appetite in exactly the way as repetetive foods.. So bland, comforting foods that are always exactly the same, ie fast food, that are also high in sugar and calories are the worst for stimulating appetite.
Fresh home cooked foods that vary continually because of season, experimentation, different shopping etc. that are lower in sugar will not stimulate the appetite as much even if they are yummier.
Just eating bland food is not what the book recommends.


J June 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

I thought the ideas presented here were interesting. I’ve tried implementing adding the coconut oil as a low reward food to my daily food. I had not yet built up the positive associations to the substance as Chris had. Well, now I like it. My daughter still doesn’t. But, she does keep asking to try it.

I’ve also noticed that when I cut out the sugar, everything else tastes sweeter. Especially lettuce. Your palate becomes more sensitive to the little bits of naturally occurring sugars in the veggies.

Thanks for this podcast.


Brandon July 11, 2011 at 8:17 am


How much MCT/coconut oil did you consume per day in your n=3 trials?



Chris Kresser July 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

1 TBS 2x/d on an empty stomach.


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