Unfortunately for us, food has become a complicated thing.
It used to not be the case, but here we are.
Claims of “eat this, not that” and a new miracle food hitting the infomercials each week.
Do you eat carbs, or no carbs? High fat, or just not saturated fat? Is sodium still bad? And what about cleanses or fasting? Even NO food has gotten complicated.
Big Food vs. Health Food Marketing… Or Is It?
It didn’t get confusing and complicated overnight, but big food (the big players in the food industry) and health food marketing have made it increasingly so over the past few decades.
To boot, big food is often behind the health food marketing.
Here’s the main takeaway: the food system is rigged against us – literally, set up for us to fail at getting healthy.
The food industry has spent unreal amounts of money researching how to make food and food products as addicting and delicious as possible.
(aside: Food products was not a typo – it’s food that’s processed to the point of not even being real food anymore)
Terms like “bliss point” and “mouth feel” are how the food industry figures out how to make food as addicting and satisfying as possible so we keep eating.
They manipulate the amount of fat, sugar, and salt in food and food products to create a perfectly engineered food that keeps us coming back for more. Read: they manipulate us.
By using known facts about our taste buds and what we’re genetically engineered to want in food, they use that information against us to enlarge their bottom lines, and as a byproduct, our waistlines.
In addition to making food that’s good for them and bad for us, big food also funds legislation that’s – you guessed it – good for them and bad for us.
Big food is so embedded in politics it’s sickening how much money they spend on illegitimate research and support of politicians, just to keep rules in place that make it harder for us to eat well.
Take for example, the USDA My Plate program recommends 50% of our diet be fruits and veggies, yet only 2% of America’s farmland is used to grow those fruits and veggies. Almost 60% of our farmland is used to grow commodity crops that are turned into the highly processed foods that they’ve researched so extensively that make us fatter.
You bet the food industry lobbying for subsidies has lobbied hard to keep this distribution so out of whack. It’s infuriating.
What You CAN Do
Yes, the system is rigged against us, so what can we actually do?
We can begin our health efforts by taking back control over our environment as much as possible.
By this I mean designing your food environment in a way that sets you up for success.This can mean replacing one processed food snack for a ‘real food’ snack at a time.
It’s unrealistic to expect an entire life overhaul – I know Goldfish will forever be a staple in the pantry. And Chick-Fil-A dinners will still happen when you’re stressed and over it all and just need to feed your tiny humans something.
But in the times when you DO have the time and the energy and the patience to cook a homemade meal, do it. When you have the extra 90 seconds to peel an orange for a snack instead of handing over the Cheeze-its, do it.
Put the healthier options at eye level and hide the junk food in the back corner of the pantry (out of sight, out of mind is a real thing).
Keep indulgences as just that – special occasion indulgences. And remember, ‘after dinner’ isn’t a special occasion for dessert, it happens every night. Keep treats a treat and not a habit.
Just like last week’s post talked about the small changes that will be the game changer, same goes for fighting back against the food system. Small changes will add up to a healthier you, and a healthier family.
Lastly, you can fight this rigged food system by moving your body. Food is complicated, moving your body is not.
You can walk or jog or run; you can dance or stretch or pose; you can lift or HIIT or row… if you’re moving it counts. It really is that simple.
Even though the food system has the odds rigged against us, we can take back some control when we control our environment in those small ways, and when we choose to move our bodies.