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Fat 2 Fit: Why You Can't Eat Just One

Ever wondered why you can't stop eating junk food? The answer is rooted in science. And the good news is that healthy foods satisfy you faster.

Have you noticed that you are happily full with one helping of healthful foods, such as a cup of spinach or mashed butternut squash, but that you can't resist seconds (or thirds) of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies or ice cream?

To understand why, Swedish scientists analyzed how those foods affect the appetite-regulating system. Evidently, signals that govern satiety, or fullness, are triggered by healthy foods. The intake of healthy calories triggers the release of insulin and leptin, which signal that you're getting full and it is time to stop eating.

But, found the Swedish researchers, foods packed with sugar and fat disrupt the chemical system, stimulating a false sense of hunger. In addition, because the foods taste so good, they trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin, the "feel good" hormones, thereby additionally rewarding the eater.

The bad news about junk food is that the more you eat sugar and fat, the more you want them, indicates the Swedish study, reported in the March 2006 issue of Consumer Reports on Health. The good news is that eating more healthily makes you feel less hungry and more satisfied on much less food. To better manage your appetite, fill your plate with healthy foods.

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