The Bliss Point

The Bliss Point

There are some foods that we just cannot stop eating once we start. You know it and I know it.

The food industry knows it as well.

Recently NPR interviewed Michael Moss about his book Salt Sugar Fat which deals with the how the food industry engineers our cravings.

That’s because these foods are manufactured to create a bliss point. What is a bliss point? Exactly what it sounds like! The point at which the food causes so much bliss that we cannot resist buying and or eating it! The term “bliss point” was coined by researcher/experimental psychologist Howard Moskowitz during his research on Prego Spaghetti Sauce.

This all sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Like a conspiracy theory. But it isn’t. It’s just business, according to Moskowitz. In this New York Times 2013 article by Michael Moss, Moskowitz has no regrets about his research. ““There’s no moral issue for me,” he said. “I did the best science I could. I was struggling to survive and didn’t have the luxury of being a moral creature. As a researcher, I was ahead of my time.”


I recently did a lunch and learn and talked about the concept of the bliss point and sensory-specific satiety with the group- you should’ve seen the look of horror on their faces.

The worst part is that the food industry has added sugar everywhere. It’s in products you wouldn’t even think of as a “sugary” product, like pasta sauce. Yogurts are another great example. Some yogurts contain as much sugar as a serving of ice cream. This is probably the worst offender of all- many of the cereals targeted to children are 50% or more sugar. Keep in mind, according to the latest dietary guidelines adults should be consuming 22 grams of sugar or less per day.

Combine this with the fact that how we eat has shifted dramatically in the past few decades, it isn’t hard to see why so many people are having health issues and are lost as to what to do. Remember, 90% of the average grocery store is full of processed, unhealthy, manufactured foods that are “optimized” for consumption. On average, half of food dollars spent in America in the grocery store. The other half are spent on eating out.  So if we are eating out half the time, and the other half of the time we are shopping the middle aisles of the grocery store, it’s no wonder our health is in such a sorry state.

For patients who report that they “cannot stop eating” certain foods, learning that the food industry is designing foods to trigger our bliss point is always mind blowing. “So it really is the food?”

Yes, it really is the food. If you can call it food.

-Dr. Norton