It's not you, it's the food!
Is there a food you know you can't resist?
As in, can't stop eating once you start? We've probably all been there, and some of us stuggle with this every single day.
We tend to blame ourselves, and so does our food culture: We ought to control ourselves!
All the while, consumption of ultra-processed foods is climbing and climbing to alarming rates: over 55% of all food consumed in the UK is now ultra-processed, and among children it’s even higher (and still higher in the USA).
But this isn’t about willpower.
Next time you find yourself unable to stop eating something, don't ask, what's wrong with me? Ask, what's wrong with this food?
Think about it: The food industry employs an army of scientists specifically tasked with engineering products to be ever more addictive, while at the same time surrepetitiously exploiting labelling loopholes to appear as ‘clean’ as possible.
We instinctively seek flavourful food, because our body intuitively knows: tasty = healthy.
But in today's food environment this survival instinct is also our weakness: Our senses are easily deceived by flavour intentionally engineered to be addictive.
And it's not just about 'high sugar, high fat': this rather simplistic view of manufactured food makes it easy for the industry to point the finger back at us: if we only chose 'healthier' products (namely 'low sugar low fat' products) then everything would be fine.
Fact is that the many ways ultra-processed foods are harmful to our health are only just starting to transpire. The studies are now coming out thick and fast but science is still only scratching on the surface of the long-term impact of altered food structures, engineered additives, and the havoc played with the delicate balance of our hormones and microbiome. Not to mention the destruction caused by industrial farming practices of both animals and plants.
For me, this means I try to avoid this stuff whenever possible. Knowing that, if I can avoid it most of the time, by cooking at home most of the time, then I don't need to fret about the fact that I might occasionally fall for a bag of crisps at a friend's house.
Here's how to recognise hyper-processed foods:
Keep in mind that, as these foods are now all-pervasive, they are also our new normal.
We are constantly bombarded with the 'benefits' of processed food products: We are told they are easy, convenient, quick and tasty. And compelled to believe the many claims declaring them 'natural' and 'healthy' plastered all over their packaging.
The clever marketing also tells us that we 'deserve' the snacks, the treats and covenient meals. So much so, that if you choose to decline said treats and snacks, or simply mention that you prefer to avoid sugar, you may well be considered ‘extreme’, or labelled a ‘weird health nut’.
It's the food industry's imperative to compel us to consume more, and cook less.
That's why cooking at home is so important.
And so subversive.
If you cooked it, it's healthy. It really is that simple.