Addictive... or irresistible?

Addictive... or irresistible?

A tale of many crisps

Is there food you know you can't resist? As in, can't stop eating once you start?

For me this definitely happens with crisps. If I eat just one I'll be compelled to keep munching until the whole packet/bowl is empty. (OK, I'm a declared salt junkie... but it makes me immune to chocolate :)

So I do avoid even starting on these things, except when I'm making an exception. Like yesterday, when a new kind of crisps arrived at the shop: new products need to be tested, obviously! It was one of those newfangled 'vegetable crisps' type things. Rather tasty, if I may say so. Definitely going on the shelf, I thought.

But then a strange thing happened... I ate a handful, then another one, and then I thought, you know what, that's enough. Not because I didn't like them, but because it kind of felt, well... like enough. As soon as I this thought went through my head it stopped me in my tracks - was I really going to stop eating crisps?! On the one day I allowed myself a rare exception? But there was no urge, nor disappointment. As if I had eaten an apple, and didn't want another one. Blimey!

So I checked the ingredients. There were just three of them. Right... now it all started to make sense. Because the addictive crisps, even the 'healthy' quinoa crisps we sell at the shop, contain well over 15 ingredients (I went and counted them).

Those who advocate real food over processed food (like Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Dr Mark Hyman) will say a good guide is to 1. avoid anything in packets, and 2. if you can't, then avoid anything listing more than 5 ingredients. And since reading Joanna Blythman's book 'Swallow This' I definitely also avoid anything listing 'flavourings' ('natural' or otherwise).

We instinctively seek flavourful food, because our body intuitively knows: tasty is healthy. We are hard wired to seek flavour. But there's a catch: the food industry shamelessly exploits this instinct for its own purposes, because our senses are easily deceived by flavour intentionally engineered to be addictive.

That's why we are constantly bombarded with the 'benefits' of processed foods: We are told they are easy, convenient, quick and tasty. And many have labels declaring them 'natural' and 'healthy' plastered all over them (ever seen an apple with an 'all natural' label on it?!) It's the food industry's imperative to compel us to consume more, and cook less. 

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?

That's why cooking for yourself is so important. And so subversive. If you cooked it, it's healthy. It's really that simple.

Oh, and making crisps at home is really simple too. And thrifty as well: Did you know that potato skins make the best crisps? Really! I first came across the idea on this Twitter thread, but as is always the case, once you stumble over a new recipe idea, you'll find the internet is full of them.

Here is my version:

    Categories: (RE)THINK, COOK


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