I love strong flavors. I love blue cheese. I love anchovies. I love feta. I love kipper snacks. I also love Dorito chips, but I don't keep them anywhere near me because I have a hard time not having another and another and another. I thought I loved these foods because of their deliciously high saltiness, but I read an article yesterday on motherjones.com that gave me some new thoughts on the matter.
Last week there was a lengthy article in the New York Times which Mother Jones summarized about the junk food industry . They are an industry keen on making lots of money and they're good at it. They're also being targeted for their role in our overall health as a nation.
On the surface, it seems like we adults have the choice to eat junk or not junk. Certainly I don't pick up bags of Doritos at the store these days. I also avoid cereals because they leave me wanting more. I try to eat non processed foods and I certainly take responsibility for it when I don't, but it does take a lot of work.
The thing about the junk food industry is that they are preying on our weaknesses and they are doing it in some very savvy ways and they are actively trying to target and build a consumer base from our children and young adults who are a bit vulnerable to these very delicious combinations of salts, fats and sugars.
Here are some of the things I learned:
Our brains get satiated by strong flavors. THIS is why I love these crazy flavors like blue cheese and anchoivies when I'm trying to lose weight. I crave them. I eat them and then I'm kinda done and feeling like I had a good fill of good flavors.
Doritos and other foods also have strong flavors, but the junk food industry has come up with very complex formulas for making them tasty enough to crave, but not quite right to trigger the satiation factor in our brain. Tricky! And clever! It's like walking along a moving walkway where you don't get tired because it's so fun moving faster than the effort you're putting out. Okay - maybe not quite the same, but I do love those moving walkways and always feel like I'd be up for running a marathon along one of them.
Another tricky thing they do is take advantage of sugar and our brain's reactions. I guess there have been some studies that have shown that our brain neurons react to sugar and cocaine in a similar fashion. They ask/demand/holler for more.
THIS could explain why it is so crazy hard for me to just have one finger of frosting as I walk past the cake on our counter. I'm a-okay having none, but once that sugar does touch my tongue, I want more. And more. There's no saitation that takes place. There's no hunger to recognize is no longer. There's just some crazy desire to have MORE.
I'm not blaming any of my weight gain on the junk food industry. I grew up in a fairly healthy home with home cooked foods and few processed foods. My enjoyment of soda and chips and frozen pizzas occurred as an adult and were the extras in my life and not the mainstays. I'm lucky. I already knew a different way of eating and I'm thankful that I have that to fall back on.
I am, however, far more lax when it comes to my children. The unhealthiness of junk food lost some of its stigma over the years as I began to see it everywhere. I didn't think of it as dangerous, but as something that is best in moderation.
Reading through the MotherJones article and the length New York Times article makes me definitely reassess the way I'm feeding my kids. For the most part, they eat okay, but I've been lax and pretzels and processed foods have entered our lives. The articles are definitely worth reading and the discussion going on regarding responsibility is an interesting one to watch unfold.
My stomach tells me it is starving right now. My stir fry lunch with cheese didn't seem to do it for me. Nor did the apple that all the chipper dipper health magazines claim will staunch your appetite. Perhaps I have some more Kipper Snacks in the cabinet. I sure hope so. If not, maybe I'll dish up some sauerkraut. Mmmmmm. (Rolling my eyes)
More from health