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Why You Love Fat, Salt, and Sugar

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I used to set food goals like that’s it, no more sugar this month or no more ice cream for the rest of your life. And then I failed miserably, sometimes just two hours (or minutes) later.

I thought the reason why I loved cake, cream cheese frosting, cheesy pizza, and gooey caramel filled brownies was because I had no willpower, I was a sugar addict, and I was one of those women who was cursed and had to work extra hard at the food thing for the rest of her life.

One thing that eventually helped me both with my emotional overeating and my ability to gain more traction with my nutrition plan, was coming to terms with some important historical facts. Because the truth is that chocolate is amazing, french fries are incredible, and cheese is to. die. for. and there’s a reason why.

Our tongues are designed to love fat, salt, and sugar. And there’s a very good reason why.

Consider this – a long time ago when we hunted and gathered our food, we somehow just knew what to eat, well before food blogs and nutrition books ever existed. When we came across a berry bush, our tongue gave us all the information we needed. If the berry was sweet, we received the message you need this, this is important to eat. If the berry was bitter, we received the message, toxic, potentially poisonous, and stay away.

We didn’t know back then that the sweet tasting berry meant sugar, which meant carbohydrate, which mean quick energy, which meant survival. We just knew to eat it because the language of the tongue told us to do so – and to eat a lot of it – because who knows when we’ll come across a fresh berry bush (or form of energy or food) again. (Even though many of us are lucky enough not to have a food scarcity problem, we all still have a body and tongue of a cave(wo)man).

When the tongue tastes sugar it tastes survival. And so then the entire job of the tongue is to tell us to eat that and eat a lot of it. 

The same can be said of fat and salt. It’s not a random coincidence that fatty and salty foods also taste amazing to the tongue. Fat is the most condensed form of energy, so when we experience that buttery, creamy taste, our survival instinct kicks in and says – that will provide you long-term energy and satisfaction, and who knows when you’ll get this again, so get your fill and get it now.

Salt – the most important electrolyte in the body – maintains, at the cellular level, some of the body’s most essential chemical reactions, imperative to our survival. So when the tongue tastes salt it also hears – this is good, eat this!!

Maybe you can see, like I eventually did, that loving fat, salt, and sugar is not a willpower problem, it’s actually in our DNA. And the very last thing we should do is beat ourselves up for loving these foods.

Because the truth is that these foods are amazing. 

And an essential piece to ending the food and body struggle is making friends with these foods, as opposed to trying to cut them out of your life (last time I checked you cannot change your DNA and that's why abstinence doesn't work so well).

So learn to go with your biology, versus fighting against it - otherwise you’ll be a fish swimming upstream, drained, exhausted, and never truly arriving anywhere.

Don’t be that fish.

Thanks for reading,


mckenzie zajonc