How much POWER does food have over you? Take this quick quiz…

For many years, I thought my strong attraction to food was a personal flaw: I can’t resist the birthday cake therefore I am a weak person. However, new research indicates that there are built in physiological mechanisms that drive us to eat, even when we are not hungry. When in the presence of decadent food such as chocolate cake, the pleasure seeking centers of some people’s brains are more stimulated than others. Unfortunately, these people are also more likely to be obese.

The good news is that you don’t need an MRI scan to determine where you fall on the live to eat, eat to live continuum. The Power of Food Scale was developed to assess the psychological impact of today’s food-abundant environments (1). The higher you score on this survey, the more likely it is that you “Live to Eat”

The Power-of-Food Scale helps gauge how much you “Live to Eat”. Using the following scale, indicate from 1-5 which of the following best describes you:

1 Don’t agree at all
2 Agree a little
3 Agree somewhat
4 Agree
5 Strongly agree

___ 1. I find myself thinking about food even when I’m not physically hungry.

___ 2. I get more pleasure from eating than I do from almost anything else.

___ 3. If I see or smell a food I like, I get a powerful urge to have some.

___ 4. When I’m around a fattening food I love, it’s hard to stop myself from at least tasting it.

___ 5. It’s scary to think of the power that food has over me.

___ 6. When I know a delicious food is available, I can’t help myself from thinking about having some.

___ 7. I love the taste of certain foods so much that I can’t avoid eating them even if they’re bad for me.

___ 8. Just before I taste a favorite food, I feel intense anticipation.

___ 9. When I eat delicious food I focus a lot on how good it tastes.

___ 10. Sometimes, when I’m doing everyday activities, I get an urge to eat “out of the blue” (for no apparent reason).

___ 11. I think I enjoy eating a lot more than most other people.

___ 12. Hearing someone describe a great meal makes me really want to have something to eat.

___ 13. It seems like I have food on my mind a lot.

___ 14. It’s very important to me that the foods I eat are as delicious as possible.

___ 15. Before I eat a favorite food my mouth tends to flood with saliva.

Scoring: Add up your responses and divide the total by 15.

1.0 – 2.3: You’re unlikely to be preoccupied with food or lose control over eating. You “Eat to Live”

2.4 – 3.6: You’re somewhat preoccupied with food but are unlikely to have a problem unless you’re significantly overweight.

3.7 – 5.0: You’re frequently preoccupied with food and at risk of losing control over your eating. This is especially problematic if you are also significantly overweight. You “Live to Eat”

This questionnaire makes a useful tool in a nutrition counseling situation and can provide a degree of accountability for clients who have trouble controlling their weight.

(1) Lowe MR, Butryn ML, Didie ER, Annunziato RA, Thomas JG, Crerand CE, et al. The Power of Food Scale. A new measure of the psychological influence of the food environment. Appetite.2009;53:114–118.

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