Why Are Unhealthy Foods So Irresistible?

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

I’m sure you know that your body thrives on nutrients, and that healthy foods (vegetables) contain lots of nutrients. I’m sure you also know that toxins create a burden to your body, and unhealthy foods (processed foods) contain lots of toxins. So, if you know these two facts, why do you continue to eat the foods that cause your body harm?

Having studied nutrition for nearly twenty years, I understand the positive impact of nutrients and the negative impact of toxins better than most, and overall, this knowledge has led me to eat a generally healthy diet, full of vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. However, it doesn’t seem to matter how much I know, I still reach for foods that do my body more harm than good. Some choices are not that ‘unhealthy’, such as a slice of wholemeal toast for breakfast, a square of dark chocolate after lunch or a glass of red wine with dinner. While others are much more damaging, such as chocolate pudding with ice cream, a family size packet of crisps or a whole bottle of wine!!! I regularly eat healthily for days and then suddenly, the poor choices can take over. Why does this happen, is it my fault, can I change this cycle?

Well, the answer is ‘no, it’s not really our fault’. The desire to eat these foods is embedded in our evolution, driven by our body chemistry and fuelled by the food industry. Looking back in history, our ancestors survived for thousands of years on what nature provided them; vegetation, honey, fruit, nuts, fish and meat. The most abundant of these foods were vegetables and although these contain high amounts of nutrients, they provided relatively small amounts of energy. In contrast, high energy foods, such as honey and fruit, were harder to find, but the pleasant taste, and energy boost, made them worth the effort. In addition, these high energy foods enabled fat storage for long-term use, increasing the chance of survival, thus increasing their desirability.

Fast forward to the modern day, and we are now overwhelmed by the availability of high energy, high toxin, low nutrient foods. This is because food manufacturers are not concerned with your health, but instead are motivated by profit, and the foods that sell are the ones that satisfy our primeval desire for energy. Interestingly, the foods we crave the most contain a 50/50 split of sugar and fat, as these foods provide the perfect balance of instant energy and fat for long-term storage. The existence of these cravings can also be observed in animals. For example, when rats are fed either sugar or fat alone, they do not overeat. However, when they are given foods that are made of 50% sugar and 50% fat, such as cheesecake, they can not stop eating it and become obese. Understanding this basic biological response to high energy foods, it is no surprise that we cannot get enough of the unhealthy stuff such as ice cream, donuts, milk chocolate, cakes etc. - and it is also no surprise that our supermarket shelves are full of them.

While high energy foods once helped us to survive, they are now eaten in such vast quantities that they are causing us serious harm. It takes thousands of years for our bodies to evolve, so our inability to deal with these foods in excess is not going to change anytime soon. Our only solution to this problem is to understand the reasons behind our desires and use our heads, not our cravings, to choose the foods we eat.

About the author:

In my teenage years I suffered health conditions including, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, migraines and uncontrollable weight gain, with no idea how to solve these symptoms.  Unwilling to accept my poor health, I gave up my job, studied nutrition at university and dedicated the last 20 years to understanding the science behind disease and weight-gain.

Through this research, I have learnt how to live symptom free and at my ideal weight. If you are ready to do the same, I’m here to show you how.

Further information:

Book Reference:

  • For more information on health and weight loss see ‘The Meta-Keto Diet’. This book is available as an eBook (£6.99), or in paperback (£15.99), via the Secret Healthy Eater Shop; www.secrethealthyeater.com/shop.


  • drawing by paulina maluhia

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