We no longer control what we feed our bodies. The food industry is doing it for us. They have brainstorming sessions to study the best way to hook us up to specific flavors, textures and states of mind. Then, they manufacture the products in a specific way to make us addicted to all those feelings and, finally, they develop great commercial campaigns to make us believe that is what we need. They also try to make it as cheap as possible to let you think you are drawing huge pleasure by spending little money, while experiencing great flavors. Soon we will be calling the process of eating unhealthy, highly manufactured food: “a pleasant experience” or as the food industry calls it, “entertainment.” And “voila”, we have created the most powerful weapon against our bodies: fast, highly manufactured food.
When we eat highly manufactured food from a fast food chain, we have no idea about all the unhealthy ingredients that have been included in that food and how it has been cooked.
When we eat from a package, we are also eating those unhealthy ingredients, but at least we know them—or most of them—by reading the labels. But chances are we don’t have time to read the label or we don’t know how to interpret the effect of 90% of the ingredients on our bodies.
Let’s study an example: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). This is a flavor enhancer used widely in processed foods and restaurants. Its consumption in high quantities is associated with higher chances of being overweight. The reason is not clear. Maybe there is just an effect of us eating more because of the enhanced taste, or maybe MSG impacts the way we metabolize fat. Either way, we should try to avoid its consumption as much as possible, but it is very common in seasoning sauces, snack foods, salad dressings, and food in some restaurants.
Don’t let the marketing of the front of the box trick you with the “healthy” advertisement. Don’t believe it unless you see it for real in the composition and food label. You REALLY need to read the food label to be able to make the right decisions. Once you start reading the food labels, you will start buying less of the bad options and more of the good ones. Even the same product—let’s say tomato sauce—can have a really different composition. And probably the taste of the healthier one would even be better, not necessarily more expensive.
As I said before, there is no way we can control our weight, our figure, and our health until we are able to control what we put into our bodies. And that, my friends, is not going to happen until you start taking control of what is used to prepare your foods.
Let’s say, for example, you love cookies or muffins. Most of the manufactured cookies, muffins and similar, are made with nasty fats, including trans-fats. That makes them not only very caloric but also very unhealthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat them anymore… you can always cook them at home, controlling the ingredients you are using. If you don’t like and/or don’t have time to cook, you can use one of the high-quality organic mixes or an already cooked organic cookie, or at least look for a cookie lower in fats, trans-fat free and lower in sugars. The same will apply for any other foods you absolutely love but are highly caloric and unhealthy. You can always find a healthier, less fat, sugar and calorie choice. You simply need to look for it.
You will have to re-educate your taste buds to love other textures, flavors and senses in order to win the battle against the food manufacturing industry. One example of succeeding in this is moving to whole grain ingredients or new products. By learning how to nourish your body with adequate foodstuffs, you will be in control of the battle.
The food industry learned long ago that what we really like is food that is easy to be consumed, and therefore it has refined our food to extremes. When my mom was young, she used to eat brown bread with a piece of chocolate as a snack. In my generation, we had the soft bread packed with horrible fats to make it more palatable and with soft chocolate inside the bread with terrible trans-fat in its composition. Later on, they removed the lateral crust to make kids eat it more easily. Nowadays we—consumers—are recognizing again the power and need for fiber, so the food industry has invented the very refined, white, soft bread still full of fats and sugars but with fiber added! Isn’t it ridiculous we are eating this instead of a piece of whole-wheat or multi-grain bread?
Food is so refined, so easy to eat, that we eat too much quantity, packed with thousands of calories without even realizing it. Think about the difference between eating an apple and applesauce. How long does it take us to eat one and the other? What about apple juice? We add extra sugar or sauces to food to make it even more desirable and easier to eat. Exactly the same happens with any other extra refined food.
For more information on MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), please, check post about MSG from Heather Solos’ BLOG: Home EC 101: