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Debunking Myths: The Bliss Point

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Welcome back to another blog post in the series of “Debunking Myths”, this one debunking the myth of the Bliss Point. If you are reading this for the very first time, there are two more articles already published in this series:

So, what is the Bliss Point and why is it a myth? Technically, the Bliss Point is not a myth in and on itself. It is a real concept. So I will explain this concept and then I will tell you the myth behind it. Be prepared – this one is a fascinating topic that will leave you scratching your head. It will also leave you questioning a lot of things the food industry is doing.

Salt formations at the end of the sea
Photo by Andrii Leonov on Unsplash

Debunking Myths: The Bliss Point

Have you ever grabbed one crisp out of a bag, then another, and the next time you looked the entire pack had gone? This does not just happen with crisps, sometimes you can also find yourself at the end of a chocolate bar or a pack of cookies. I, for the longest time, felt that I simply did not have enough willpower to stop. I mean you get to the bottom of a pack and don’t even remember eating everything 😱. How is that possible? If you find yourself in a similar position or have ever experienced it – do not be too hard on yourself. The food industry works very hard to ensure that we are reaching for more time and time again. Enter: The Bliss Point.

Sugar on a dark background being taken out with a small wooden spoon

The Bliss Point is a concept that perfects a food’s ability to have the optimal ratios of salt, sugar, and fat.

The Bliss Point was first introduced and developed by a psychiatrist called Howard Moskowitz. The concept perfects a food’s ability to have the optimal ratios of salt, sugar, and fat (usually two or all three). This is for your brain to receive an instant dopamine hit. Think about a really bold-flavored meal. I tend to always go with Greek food when I mention this example. It is bold, fatty, and full of garlic. You may be craving it once but then you feel totally satisfied (or slightly stuffed) and happy with it. You also possibly do not need it again for a while.

The Bliss Point is meant to do the exact opposite. It is meant to provide you with a short-term high. But then it wants your brain to quickly forget about it so that you will reach for more. In other words: The food needs to be interesting enough for your brain to reach for more, but not interesting enough for your brain to remember it long term. Pretty devious, huh? The bliss point basically allows food companies to continue their sales cycle. And ensures that people are reaching for the same foods time and time again. It is not just cookies, crisps, or chocolate bars that have been calculated and optimized. Most shelf items have undergone some sort of process to ensure that they have a bliss point. This is usually done through the addition of sugar. 

Potato chips on a yellow underground
Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

What is the “Myth” about the Bliss Point?

The myth here is that loads of doctors, nurses, society still tell us that food consumption is entirely within our own willpower – or not. They solely place the “blame” on the individual, rather than acknowledging that this may be by design. People rarely talk about the Bliss Point. Most people do not even know it. Yet, everyone “knows” that we should be in “control” of our consumption. I am putting these words into quotation marks, because I do not beliebe them. I also do not want you to believe them. But society – on a whole still tells us that. With all of these “Debunking Myths” posts I want you to understand the following. There is a lot more that is happening outside of our remit and control. Our bodies are intricate, highly functioning systems. A lot of people make money off us in telling us by telling us this is not the case.

Measuring tape

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Can we overcome the Bliss Point?

Technically, no. The food industry is in the market to make money, we will not change that – certainly not overnight. But you can ensure that you read your ingredient labels and buy as close to the whole plant (or actually buying the whole food) as possible. Also remember, that you can re-train your taste buds. The more we eat a whole food, balanced diet, and season on our own, the more we will notice how intensely sweet, fatty, and salty convenience foods are. Over time, they tend to become less appealing to you. 

More than anything – you are now equipped with a piece of knowledge that the food industry really does not like us to know much about. I hope the revelation of the bliss point has been as eye-opening to you as it has been to me when I first learned about it 🤗. If you want to learn more about this topic, I found the book by Michael Moss – Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us eye-opening!

Beautiful cover photo by Gabriel Meinert on Unsplash.

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