The New York Times Magazine feature article, ‘I Feel So Sorry for the Public,’ Michael Moss shares his four years of research on how the food industry ‘gets people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.’
As you go about your shopping in the grocery aisles, you are entering what could be considered the result of very careful laboratory and marketing studies designed to get you to shop and eat in a very certain way. With one in three Americans clinically obese, 24 million Americans affected by type 2 diabetes, and another 79 million diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it might be time to review what is on your shopping list, in your shopping cart, and on your dinner plate.
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To start, in the vast majority of situations, everyone is autonomous in his/her decision of what to eat, how much to eat, what to feed the family, what to serve in the cafeteria, what to serve in restaurants, etc. Nobody is obliged to want to eat more or less of one type of food or another. Calories from healthy sources can be bought just the same as calories from unhealthy sources, and, contrary to popular opinion, fast food is not always the cheapest option.
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It should be no surprise that the main ingredients causing the most amount of health trouble are sugar, salt and fatty foods in the amounts that we tend to consume them.
That said, and to quote Moss’ article once more, people are ‘extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these [food] companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns.’ Our brains are designed to love sugar, fat and salt. Marketers in the food industry know that crafting food around these ingredients leads to high sales and profit, and they have known this for a long time. Sugar is found in non-sweet foods such as spaghetti sauce and ketchup, and salt is found in decidedly non-salty foods such as cookies!
Through no fault of yours, a carefully crafted processed snack, such as a potato chip, creates a pleasing sensation in the brain when eaten. It is easily absorbed by the body, raising blood sugar levels, which in turn crash shortly thereafter, leading us to crave for more. Frequent snacking on unhealthy foods such as cookies and chips and ice cream with high fat content is satisfying yet potentially dangerous in the long run.
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What is the everyday consumer to do? The very best way to get started is to read labels. No time? Browse your smart phone for apps, such as Fooducate, and get instant help on better options, possibly right in the same aisle you are standing in. Buy natural, organic and unprocessed foods, you know, the ones without labels! And for those of us who like snacking, the comforting hand-to-mouth activity, start your quest for substitutes that work well such as blueberries, popcorn, or baby carrot sticks.
Drinking enough water is extremely helpful. Within an average of 3 weeks, you will find our taste buds and your brain are weaning off the salty, fatty and sugary foods you used to crave.