Why Does Food That’s Bad for You Taste So Good?



I recently came upon a beautifully written article on a subject that has nagged at my brain for quite some time.

Why does food that’s bad for you taste so good?

The author’s premise is that there is an evolutionary survival basis for meats and sugars that protected the caveman in addition to the healthy foods they ate.  Meat provided protein, vitamins and minerals for a long slow burn of strength and energy.  But there was also the need for quick burning energy:  “Evolution made us neurotic about filling the tank with high-octane foods that pack the most energy per gram swallowed.”  Our early ancestors also didn’t live long enough to suffer the negative effect of atherosclerosis caused by fatty foods and diabetes caused by raw sugars.  In fact, there were very few raw sugars available then—perhaps sugar cane—and the rest were found in healthy berries and fruits.  But they did need immediate energy to run away from those saber-tooth tigers!  Then they likely needed salt replacement from all the sweating and stress of a near-death experience.

Let’s take a look at my fabulous young granddaughters.  One is being raised vegetarian, and both of my daughters are very careful to feed their children in as healthy a way as possible.  They love fruit, they love vegetables, live a very healthy lifestyle and do not crave junk food.

On the other hand, they don’t really know about junk food…. yet.

What happens when you introduce a child to cookies, chips and candy?  Remember what their face looked like the first time they tasted ice cream?  Know anyone who nibbles on a Cheeto and then says, “Thanks, one is enough for me”?

I don’t know why God does this.  I don’t think Darwin can fully explain it.  There is just something inexplicably delicious about sugar, salt and fried foods that is not found in Brussel sprouts, cauliflower or kale.

If God could have a do-over, would this be the one?  Maybe, but I think Gallagher was right when he said that noses were designed wrong.  Why put something so drippy upside down above your mouth?