Lying and the Big Food Industry Liars Who Tell Lies
Remember when food wasn’t so complicated? Okay, me neither, but my grandparents probably did. See when they were growing up people cooked meals with real ingredients that weren’t genetically altered with packing that blew smoke up their butt telling them how “healthy” high-calorie garbage with added sugar, salt and chemicals was for them.
Today whenever I go grocery shopping I get a headache. I’m bombarded with mixed messages like “sinfully decadent!” “gluten-free” “only 100 calories” and my favorite “25% less sugar than normal.” Well what was normal? My guess was too much sugar?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer about holding yourself accountable and taking charge of your health. That said, if you are currently overweight right now, it’s not entirely your fault, and here’s why.
In the book “Salt Sugar Fat,” Michael Moss, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times, details how the Big Food industry went to great lengths to get people hooked on food, much in the same ways that cigarette companies got people hooked on nicotine.
The way to maximize profits was to find that consumer “bliss point” and the fastest way to do that was to add salt, sugar and fat to food products. I use the term “products” because it doesn’t even seem like food after a while.
CEO’s, scientists, marketing people and researchers worked in conjunction to get people to buy more processed food while minimizing their guilt about it and getting their brain chemistry hooked, all the while knowing that it was causing obesity and increasing obesity-related diseases.
Moss writes about a secret meeting held in 1999 by the Big Food CEO’s where obesity was discussed and several leaders acknowledged their role in it and wanted to take steps to correct the situation. But then they decided profit was more important and that was that. The obesity epidemic obviously grew since 1999.
There are lots of instances where my blood began to boil as I continued to read, but what really angered me was when kids became the target of food science and marketing.
In 1985, Oscar Mayer was having a sales dip because people discovered the link between red meat and cholesterol. The Vice President in charge of Development had to work around this sales issue, so he studied mothers and discovered what a hardship the morning was for them: getting the kids dressed, having to make lunches and then get everyone off to school and work on time. So he created Lunchables. It of course sold bologna as the key ingredient and then crackers because it had to be able to sit in a warehouse for two months before it sold. When Oscar Mayer merged with Kraft, processed cheese became a no-brainer ingredient. Sales were great! Mom’s thought they were providing a convenient and healthy lunch for their kids.
But the packaging was expensive. Parent company Philip Morris (I’m not kidding) funded it and then came up with an obvious profit solution. When in doubt, add sugar! So desserts were added to Lunchables. Snickers, M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were added. The former C.E.O. of Philip Morris joked about an article that said, “‘If you take apart Lunchables the healthiest item in it is the napkin.'”
To be fair, they did try to package Lunchables with healthier foods but they did not sell as well, because junk food tastes better.
If you really want to get angry, read the book “Salt Sugar Fat” or read an excerpt from it in the New York Times article here: “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”
And if I sound angrier than usual in this article, it’s because I am. As a trainer and fitness blogger and person who struggled most of my adult life to get fit and healthy, it really makes me furious that CEOs are deliberately getting us hooked on stuff that’s bad for us, lying about it and making huge profits while 68.8% of the American population is overweight as a result.
More than 1 in 3 of our kids today (ages 6-19) are overweight and 1 in 6 is obese. Think how much targeting is marketed to kids directly. Need a reminder? Walk down the cereal aisle.
You can get mad, but you can also get even. If you really want to get even, hit the Big Food CEO’s where it hurts: their profits. Stop listening to the lies their marketing firms and psychologists make up, reclaim your power, and eat like your grandma used to!
Eat Like Your Grandma
- If your grandma wouldn’t identify the product as food (think: Cheetos) you should probably not eat it
- Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where the eggs, poultry, fruits and vegetables are and avoid those middle aisles where the processed food lives
- Cook your own meals, avoiding all that added sugar, salt and fat. It takes your taste buds a little time to adjust, but eventually your cravings for the bad stuff will calm down.
I’m also a realist here. I know that people lead busy lives and processed food is fast on a busy night, so start small if you need to. Switch from sugary cereal to old fashioned oatmeal and some blueberries for breakfast. Or instead of TV dinners every night, cook up a batch of chicken that you can eat for several meals that week. Chances are you will not only be healthier, you will also be happy in the knowledge that you are sticking it to the CEOs.
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Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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