The appestat and binging: Why you can't eat just one

by Nancy Jerominski

This article was originally published in May 2008

potato chips

Theoretically, there’s a mechanism in your brain, perhaps in the hypothalamus, called the appestat. It’s believed to monitor your blood for nutrients and regulate appetite.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t eat just one chip or cookie? Do you struggle with extra pounds even though you’ve reduced your daily calories by choosing low fat foods, plenty of grains, and dutifully doing your cardio?

In “Beating the Food Giants,” Paul Stitt says, “Many nasty tricks are used by Food Giants to make you overeat. Adding lots of fat, sugar and salt are obvious ones.

They know that if they add enough fat, sugar and salt, Americans will eat almost anything.” 1 He worked for years as a food scientist at Quaker and knows first-hand how these companies add or subtract key nutrients to keep you eating.

What do they know that you don’t? Theoretically, there’s a mechanism in your brain, perhaps in the hypothalamus, called the appestat. It’s believed to monitor your blood for nutrients and regulate appetite.

Eat a chip and you taste salt. Once the chip hits your blood stream, the appestat wonders “Where are the nutrients?” The message to keep munching is looped and mounds of calorie-dense junk are consumed. You aren’t full because nutrients are missing — so you keep eating.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D., states, “Your appestat is a control mechanism that has been fine-tuned for hundreds of generations (and) can keep your weight stable within a pound or two from the end of your adolescent years into old age — if you let it.” 2

Refined sugar, salt, grains, artificial sweeteners, MSG and high fructose corn syrup seem to numb the appestat. Only when we eat the correct balance of nutrients do we experience satiety. Without the right kind of fats and proteins and by consuming too many grains, we set ourselves up for cravings and binging.

Food companies know what these additives do, spiking their “food” and spending millions to convince us how good it is. They work hard to be sure nobody can eat “just one.” It’s no accident you can’t! Americans oblige, spending billions, literally starving their way to obesity — the epicenter of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

If you think all “natural” foods don’t contain things that make you want to eat more, scrutinize the labels. For instance, hydrolyzed vegetable or soy protein may contain free glutamic acid, a component of MSG (an excito-toxin). Anything ending in “-ose” is sugar, with the exception of sucralose, a fabricated word to make you think it’s derived from sugar; it’s a chemical, same as aspartame.

Some experts steeped in science dismiss the appestat’s existence because it hasn’t been “scientifically” proven. What I encourage clients to remember is that people thrived over millennia without pharmaceuticals, artificial sweeteners and all the low-fat, high grain, refined, de-natured stuff that companies have convinced us is food.

Humans aren’t equipped to process anything we didn’t eat 10,000 years ago because we haven’t evolved one iota since. CHEK practitioners teach that food is energy and energy can come only from live food. Everyone’s different. Your ancestors evolved on foods available in their geographical region, so choices bringing robust health to you actually might cause another’s illness.

The binging phenomenon and related health issues aren’t complicated when you understand how additives and carb-heavy foods manipulate your brain and pancreas. If you can’t pronounce it and it wasn’t here 10,000 years ago, consider avoiding it.

When you don’t get enough clean, saturated fats and proteins rich in amino acids, you may seek sugar or carbohydrates. The pancreas releases insulin when you eat too many carbohydrates and stores them as fat.

Listen to your appestat and binging will cease. Nature equipped us with incredible bodies geared to work at a moderate pace with bursts of speed and power when needed. Her nutritious and brilliantly balanced foods got us here, until very recently — without the dire consequences happening today.

Nancy Jerominski is certified through the CHEK Institute as a Holistic Lifestyle Coach level 2. She’s also an ACE-certified, IDEA Elite level personal fitness trainer with nearly 30 years of practical training and teaching experience. Visit her Web site or contact her at

  1. Stitt, Paul A.; “Beating the Food Giants,” Manitowac, WI: Natural Press, page 116.
  2. Goscienski, Phillip J., M.D.; “How Does Your Appestat Work?,” Web article, December 2005.

Related Reading

Letters to the editor, May 2008

Social justice for farm workers, Support a sustainable Farm Bill, Fair labor GROW bananas, and more

Your co-op, May 2008

Notice of 2008 ballot counting meeting, Vote now, Board report, and more