Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Being bloody-minded.

I'm on the trail of the secret to permanent weight loss through healthy nutrition.

The bad new is, it's an immensely a complex issue, to do with external forces, internal emotions, upbringing, current situation, lifestyle constraints, education to name but a few.

The good news is, according to BBC2's The Men Who Made Us Fat, it's not our fault that we over-consume.  The ad-men and the marketing strategists have had us brainwashed for years into thinking the over-processed, sugar and-salt laden products they persuade us to buy, in ever increasing portion and pack sizes, are what we should be consuming.

We have been persuaded by ad after ad that the time in between meals is exactly the right time for an enormous family-sized bag of crisps or a double portion chocolate bar.  We have been hood-winked into believing that meals needn't be cooked from scratch, that processed convenience foods are just as nutritious as one cooked from wholesome raw ingredients.  So much so that some 5 year-olds don't even recognise an onion! WORSE, we have been fooled into believing that sugar and salt-laden products, crammed full of harmful trans fats are actually part of a healthy and BALANCED diet!  There is even a section on the food pyramid for sweets and cakes and fizzy drinks!

The food industry has been manipulating us for years; persuading and cajoling us into buying more than we intended to, forcing us to walk a certain way around the supermarket, to take advantage of bulk and multi-buy offers we don't even want or need all the while lining their pockets with supersized profits at the cost of our waistlines, hearts and health.  The food industry does not care about our health or well-being.  It is not interested in delivering a quality product made with the best ingredients if that messes with its profit margins.  The food industry is concerned with one thing and one thing only: how to make the maximum profit from the minimum expenditure.  It is only concerned with the flavour, texture and taste of their product because that is what gets you to buy more of it.  That is what gets them their Christmas bonus.
The war between our weight and the food industry is not fought on a level battle ground.  The food industry lures you in and traps in the most unfair of ways.  They have all the ammo in the form of highly addictive substances, persuasive advertising campaigns and subliminal strategies we are completely unaware of responding to, while we are the unwitting victims of their calculated and well-planned guerilla campaigns.

According to the excellent BBC2 documentary - that you can still see on I-player - we are at the mercy of years of all-pervasive, ubiquitous persuasion that these products will make us happy, will fill a gap, will save us time, will save us money, will earn us the love and respect of our friends and families.

The fact of the matter is, these companies are no better than drug dealers.

The amount of sugar added to processed foods - ALL processed foods including savoury products like cooked chicken and table sauces - means we are constantly overloading our livers with glucose.  This, as I have said before inhibits leptin, which is responsible for telling us when we are full.  

So the more of these processed foods you eat, the hungrier you feel!

But why is it that, if these campaigns are so effective over populations of people, that some manage not to be sucked in by the advertising and the constant sensory bombardment that makes us buy more than we wanted or thought we needed?  Why is it some people avoid the fast food and the sugary treats and salty snacks so much more easily than others?

If I knew the answer to to that, I would bottle it and make a fortune... obviously, with such an incentive, I have been giving it a lot of thought!

Personally, I don't walk around the supermarket the way the marketing folk want me to.  I go where I need to go to get the things I came in for.  Sure, I get a little sidetracked sometimes and end up coming out with more than I went in for but never BOGOF deals and rarely naughty food.  And I also get around this by doing my weekly shop online, where I can only buy what I know I need.  But when I do go shopping in the supermarket, I rarely go down the alcohol aisle.  I rarely go down the sweet and biscuit aisle, I rarely go down the crisps and soft-drinks aisles.  Why?

I think a lot of it comes down to sheer bloody-mindedness and stubbornness.  I really do hate to be told what to do!  Perhaps it is that simple.  I will not be swayed by your argument unless you can clearly and sufficiently prove to me, with adequate data that what you are saying makes sense.  And I'm afraid that all the evidence and data points to carrots and celery and broccoli and chicken being better for you and more delicious than pepperoni pizza, crisps and ice cream.

Perhaps that's part of it too.  I actually prefer a big bowl of salad to a big bowl of crisps or ice cream.  Why is that?  Perhaps it's because I was brought up on home cooked meals that were created from scratch.  Perhaps it's the fact that these meals (sorry mum) though they didn't taste bad, were rarely cordon bleu cooking - perhaps I have always seen food as fuel rather than something indulgent to be delighted over.

And yet I do love food.  I am adventurous, I'll try anything, I'm not at all fussy, I'll pretty much eat anything.  But fast food, convenience food, junk food and processed food makes me feel uncomfortable.  It makes me feel a little nervous.  I don't see it as real.  Is this what helps me steer clear of unhealthy choices?  Maybe.  Is it behaviour that could be learned?  I'm sure of it!

I wonder if the next time you are in the high street and feel the urge to nip into a fast-food establishment, or you are in the supermarket and feeling the lure of the multi-buy crisps or BOGOF biscuits, you will think of these:

1     Do you really want to sacrifice your health to line the pockets of people who care nothing for your well-being?  Do you want them lying on some tropical beach, gleefully rubbing their hands together at the profits they made last year on the backs of your waistline and your cholesterol levels?

2     Are you really going to let the ad-men determine your patterns of behaviour?  Are you going to allow over-paid executives in an anonymous office decide what you feed yourself and your family?  They don't do buy one get one free for your convenience or pocket.  They do it because it makes them more money!

3     Are you going to allow these anonymous businessmen to keep you addicted to sugar, to keep you hungry, to keep you beholden to them and their fake-food products?  Or are you going to take control and make the decision to break free?

4     Try not to forget that it is sugar that is making us fat.  Sugar is in virtually EVERY processed food we buy, in the form of fructose, corn syrup, glucose and all sort sof other names that hide its true identity to us.  The more of these products we consume, drinks included, the more hungry we will be. 

Perhaps the secret to healthy nutrition is a bit more stubborn bloody-mindedness!

Krish x

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