Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Tips to skip junk food

Very useful. It didn’t mention the obvious — don’t have junk food at home where it becomes too easy to grab it — probably because it’s not an option for some.

Six strategies to help you say no to junk food

By CAITLIN DOW | MAY 3, 2017 |  Nutrition Action

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October 11, 2017 Posted by | diet, health | | 1 Comment

Junk food is addictive

“… extremely sweet or fatty foods captivate the brain’s reward circuit in much the same way that cocaine and gambling do…”

A must-read for the sake of your own health.

How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brain into Wanting More Food

Junk foods can muddle the brain’s satiety-control mechanism, sending our appetites into hyperdrive

Ferris Jabr | January 1, 2016 | Scientific American

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January 3, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, diet, health, nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Junk Food Like Drugs

“….brain pathways that make drugs pleasurable are the same pathways that allow you to enjoy food…”

No wonder it’s so easy to overeat and so hard to diet.  The article below, from Medhelp – Healthy Living, explores the similarities between food and drugs and the resulting potential addiction problems:

Your Brain on Junk Food

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April 2, 2013 Posted by | behaviour, brain, diet, health | , , | Leave a comment

Nutella IS junkfood! The Proof

Is Nutella good for you? After losing a lawsuit, Nutella agrees to stop marketing its tasty junkfood as healthy  — in the U.S.  only, unfortunately.   I love the comparison to chocolate:

“The lawsuit noted that the spread contains about 70 per cent saturated fat and processed sugar by weight, as well as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans fat.  A two-tablespoon serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 21 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, a typical chocolate and nut candy bar has 250 to 300 calories and 12 to 16 grams of fat.”

Glad to see that chain mail letter validated.  But the sad part is the some of the comments after the article (visit the article page to read them) — so many miss the point that it is the misleading advertising rather than the product itself that was the problem; and there is one commenter who still hasn’t read the label and thinks this product is full of nuts rather than a sea of fat and sugar with a bit of hazelnuts for flavouring.

Here is the link to the settlement agreement (in its full lawyerese glory): Nutella Class Action Settlement Agreement; and here is the article reporting on it in layman terms:

Nutella settles lawsuit from angry mom, drops health claims Staff

Date: Friday Apr. 27, 2012 8:44 PM ET

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May 11, 2012 Posted by | diet, health, nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Salad or fries with that?

Do you want salad or fires with that? It seems a healthy option actually makes you more likely to pick the junk food.  Great for fast-food companies’ bottom lines.

From The National Post, April 30, 2009:

Thinking about eating healthy can fool brain into choosing fat: new study

Anne Harding, Reuters

Feel satisfied that you’re doing your body some good by merely looking at some leafy greens next to your burger? You may have just tricked yourself into ordering the greasy fries.

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October 3, 2009 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, diet, health, nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Stress makes you eat junk food

It seems that high calorie foods cause a metabolic change that tamps the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Or is it the release of dopamine? Midnight cravings explained, in The New York Times, May 20, 2008:

Comfort Food, for Monkeys


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June 22, 2009 Posted by | behaviour, brain, diet, nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nutella = junk food, part 2

(If you haven’t already, read the original post on Nutella here.)

FAQ on a Nutella site  mentions this about modified palm oil:
“The modified palm oil is a mix of the liquid and solid oil naturally extracted from the fruit of the palm. The mix is adjusted to assure the best consistency for easy spreading. The process also reduces the level of saturated fat.”

Well, at least we know it is not hydrogenated — however, the phrase “mix is adjusted” could easily involve other questionable methods such as interesterification. The claim that it reduces saturated fats makes me even more suspicious of unnatural temperings.

Btw, the answers to all the FAQ’s are exquisitely worded to reassure us of it’s healthy nature.  For example, the very first question of “What is Nutella?” is answered by: “a deliciously unique spread made from the combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa”. No mention of the two largest ingredients by weight (sugar and modified palm oil).  It continues: “Nutella® has no artificial colors or preservatives“, which is true, but again no mention of the artificiality of the modified palm oil.

Another example of the misleading wording: “Hazelnuts are a main ingredient in Nutella®. Each 13 OZ jar contains about 50 hazelnuts.” Well, I tried to look up what 50 hazelnuts must weigh — according to wolframalpha, on average 2kg.  Which makes me suspect they used an incredibly tiny hazelnut variety.

According to Wikipedia, the formulation of the spread varies by country, no doubt tweaked to comply with local regulations and for best marketing angle.  Unlike the US/Canada ingredient list, the actual percentages of the ingredients are specified in other countries.  Assuming that the ratios are approximately the same, the touted ingredients are:

13% hazelnuts + 7.4% cocoa + 6.6% skim milk

for a total of 27%, the unmentioned rest being sugar, oil, and a bit of emulsifier and flavouring.

Healthy indeed.

I have to admit, they have a very skillful marketing department.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | diet, health, nutrition | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nutella = junk food

The following is a chain letter which warns you about eating Nutella (it’s Canadian, but Nutella seems to be sold in many countries).


(Also check out Part 2)


I am fuming mad. After you read this, you will probably be too. Especially if you have kids.
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June 20, 2008 Posted by | diet, health, nutrition | , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments