• Rhyena Halpern

Are Hyper-Palatable Foods Wreaking Havoc on Your Health & Making You Gain Weight? Part 1



Photo by Ashley Green on Unsplash



If you are carrying weight on your body that feels extra, and perhaps struggle a little or a lot with disordered eating, you probably know the story:

Despite our rejection of the oppressive societal norms perpetuated by the ‘beauty’ industry;

Despite our philosophical support of the fat liberation movement and our acceptance of our larger, different-from-the-norm-size;

Despite the distorted mental tapes we internalize and carry about how women (and men) should ‘look’;

Despite the valid, angsty emotions that drive the overeating (that we now know could be bad, gut microbes causing cravings);

Despite the genetic predisposition towards gaining and holding onto excess fat along with blood sugar regulation problems that many of us have;

Despite knowing that many skinny people are actually unhealthy and many thicker people indeed are very healthy;

Despite multi-generational familial dysfunctional habits behind overeating;

Despite all of this, we can feel that place of truth inside us that letting go of excess weight is part of our life’s lessons. We are not trying to be tiny or look like Barbie. We have moved way past that. We can be healthy and the right weight for ourselves, even if the BMI and weight recommendations disagree.

We yearn to be healthy and free- mentally and physically. We don’t want to carry the shame or guilt or any self-denigration.

Nor do we want to carry extra inflammation, which we know leads to disease. We are searching for and finding our own personalized optimal health. We are not prescribing yours. We want to reach for our own internal freedom from the tyranny of food, weight, eating.

And we want the patriarchy and avaricious corporations that would hurt our bodies in the quest for higher profits off our backs.

We know that the biggest, most cynical, conniving culprit behind excess weight is the maniacal food industry’s affair with processed foods designed with enough sugar, salt and fat to get us hooked.

The cold reality is hyper-palatable foods are addicting- they light up your brain’s pleasure center and make you into an insatiable eating machine of highly processed, high caloric, low nutrient, fake food.


So next time you look at that candy bar, chocolate chip cookie, pizza, pasta, breakfast cereal, bagel, ice cream sundae, potato chips, smothered chicken wings, donuts, etc., just know that you are looking at a product that acts like an addictive drug in your precious body. It is a product of greed, with no intention of helping to optimize your health.

While not every body responds to processed food as a controlled substance, those of us who gain weight easily, who struggle with agonizing food cravings, who find ourselves out of control after that first bite of a sugary gooey sweet, certainly do.

The chemicals and processing used in these products set off an addictive response once ingested for many of us. This response is very often correlated to weight gain and followed by low energy, sluggishness, fatigue, digestive problems, hormonal imbalances, compromised immune functions, high internal inflammation levels, and shall I keep going?

Take it from me, someone who has struggled with an extra 20–30 lbs for decades. Ever since I was a little girl, I was overweight. As evidenced most recently by the mutations identified in my genetic testing, my body gains weight easily, holds on to fat, and does not lose weight easily. It's all tied up with my pancreas, metabolism, insulin, estrogen and thyroid.

I have spent decades unwinding and making peace with my personal shameful war with overeating, only to discover that the fight is not between some defective part of me and my shame.

The fight is with hyper-palatable food which is an absolutely predictable war when the enemy of processed food is colluding against me.

We may not need all that expensive therapy after all! We just may need to clean up our guts and consume whole, organic foods, to make the biggest changes to our bodies and our health.

I have studied the most up to date, solid literature and am convinced that the science is indisputable: losing weight for those of us with too much of it lowers our inflammation levels, improves our immune health, prevents disease, and slows down aging.

There are so many bogus diets out there with scientifically unprovable claims. But here are two things I know for sure:

  1. Since highly palatable, processed foods are like cocaine to me and I would not ingest cocaine, ergo I religiously avoid all processed foods. Period. Not one bite. Period. 100% No!

2. There is no one simple approach to eating healthy food. It’s essential for me to have enough body awareness so that I can tune in to discover how different

foods make me feel.

Doctors, even integrative, holistic, functional medicine ones, don’t have all the answers. You are the expert on your body. You have to experiment, using trial and error, to find out what foods, what exercise, what mindfulness practice, what supplements, whatever, works for you.

I have had time periods where I could not eat eggs no matter how much I liked them. My throat closes up if I drink coffee. My nose runs and I get constipated when I eat dairy. I feel energized from chicken bone broth. I get spacey from stone fruit. Fresh wild fish satisfies me like nothing else. I need leafy greens every day. Organic chicken breast with homemade coconut curry sauce is my go-to food. I can’t eat gluten-free pasta without brain fog. Stevia does not set me off.

Adopting an attitude of curiosity and willingness to experiment through trial and error willing is essential. You can find your personal freedom so that you feel you are in the right-sized, healthy body, eating health-supporting, nutrient-dense, scrumptious food. When we are living our truth, all the other crap falls away.

For ‘Are Hyper-Palatable Foods Wreaking Havoc on Your Health & Making You Gain Weight? Part 2’ of this story here. For ‘Becoming an Under Eater’ go here For ‘HCG: The Only Way I Have Ever Been Able to Lose Weight’ go here.


WRITTEN BY Rhyena Halpern Health Coach & End of Life Doula who loves to write on Wellness, Third Act of Life, Death & Dying, Autoimmunity, Trauma, Food & Weight. rhyhalpern@gmail.com


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