Full flavour behaviour

Next in the line of ridiculously faddy-sounding diets is the Flavour Diet. Devised by Mr and Mrs Katz (or more accurately Dr and Dr Katz) it is no doubt available at a bookshop near you. The deal behind this particular food-limiting fest is as follows: forget (mostly) about all those boring and hard to understand points, calories and so forth and instead be sure to only eat foods that are the same flavour as each other on any particular day. And yes, one day is chocolate day. Yum!

As an example of what you might be letting yourself in for, ABC News carries some recipes for apple day, and of course some chocolate brownies for that special day.

It may sound a little ludicrous, but the Drs Katz are apparently right in asserting there is (potentially) some science behind it. Raynor and Epstein for instance studied the phenomenon of "sensory-specific satiety" and its part in obesity in the article attached to this story. Whilst at first it sounds a little like a L'Oreal advert-esque science-word, according to their literature survey indeed it is the case that if there is a wide variety of foods around people just eat more of them. And actually it may not be just the taste; one study showed that different flavours of things that visually resemble each other do not have the effect to the same degree. If you are therefore wishing to lose weight, presumably it would be best on chocolate day if all the food you eat is brown.

It has been suggested that different tastes of food stimulate different areas in the brain with regard to appetite. One that particular taste-centre is buzzing away, you won't feel full until its satiated. If you go on and stimulate another then that's another bit of brain that needs satisfying via calorific intake. The fact that today many of our packaged foods are full of all sorts of combinations of unnaturally tasty and varied flavours may help explain why many people overeat.

Perhaps this succinctly provides explanation for the "Chinese Buffet Paradox" whereby one can eat sweet and sour chicken, rice and duck until you are almost physically passed-out and sick but then near-immediately go on to revive oneself and happily eat twelve bowls of ice-cream and cake "just to get your money's worth".

The Doctors are also (surprisingly) realistic in their reasoning. Their suggested recipes give you 1500 calories a day, which were you to eat that much of pretty much anything, universally flavoured or not, a day on average would likely make you lose weight, especially if you do the Katz-certified 30 minutes exercise a day. One of the Katz said "The only way to lose weight is to eat less calories", and the point of the diet is more to make you not hungry enough to want to overeat rather than, for instance, all the magic apple-flavoured goblins getting together and moving out the fat.

The Poorhouse's favourite media garbling of this message was in the Daily Express who stated slightly contradictorily "...amazingly there is no need to count calories. The plan lasts for six weeks and involves eating around 1,500 calories a day.". Well, the Poorhouse supposes you're letting the Katz count calories for you if you want to be pedantic about it.

Whether the flavours aspect comes from pure science or turns out to be mere pseudo-academicish gimmickery, surely eating a relatively modest amount of calories and doing a bit of exercise can only be a good thing for most dieters.


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