As I write these food related posts, I must begin to explain that I too, like the rest of society, has been sucked in to the culture of “food-like” nutrition that has plagued our American diet. I spend a lot of time discussing this in my book, since overcoming the addiction of what food manufacturers have created is by far, the biggest obstacle to overcome in the quest for proper health and nutrition. So what is “food-like” products? I would probably imagine by now you can read between the lines and figure out it is food that has been converted, processed, refined, artificially flavored, colored, and preserved and put into a very attractive bag or box, celebrity endorsed or just heavily promoted, and typically inexpensive food that sits on the shelves at your local grocery store. I briefly touched on this in my last post about the meat industry, stating that 100 years ago, there was no such thing as any of the above listed items found in our food. The introduction of all these chemicals have created a very unhealthy society, and it’s only getting unhealthier.
Unfortunately, as much as these products taste good, our society truly doesn’t understand the magnitude of the food they are consuming. Again, pointing back to the fact that we have become so detached from our food, that we don’t even question its relevancy anymore to our overall health and well being. To us, it’s about enjoying the taste, and providing the calories that our body and mind think we need. I will spell it out right now: THIS IS NOT FOOD! I know that the old phrase, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck; it’s probably a duck. So you think to yourself: “it smells like food, it tastes like food, so it must be food!” Unfortunately some truth there, but looking further into the industry behind that food sheds light on a completely different picture! There is a great book by Michael Moss, called “Salt, Sugar, Fat,” which really opens the door to discussing how the food manufacturers are working to create a food so closely to have the same addictive properties as a drug. By combining those three things into food, and at exact amount in order to create something called a “Bliss Factor” which creates this immediate pleasure to the system that says, “oh yeah! I want more of that!” It is really funny to think about the idea that these food manufacturers are basically scientists that are in a lab, adding more of this, taking away some of this, adding this, and all in search to get you addicted to their product so that you keep coming back for more. This is how sad our food system has become, it has pretty much gone away from the farm, and now is built inside a laboratory.
With this much effort put into creating an addictive food product, no wonder it is so hard to try and eat a well balanced and healthy diet! Not to mention, if you are a father like me, having 3 teenage boys who see these commercials and they see their friends bringing it in their lunch bags to school, they ride your coat tails to get some in the house. And of course, in a weak moment, you come home, you are hungry, it will take 30 minutes or so to prepare a healthy meal, so it is so easy to just grab that bag or box and eat a few, and a few more, and some more, and next thing you know, you have consumed the same amount of calories you would have consumed in that healthy meal you were about to prepare. So what do we do?
This was an area I had to discuss about more thoroughly in my book, since the psychology of eating plays a much greater factor in our food choices than simply the nutrition or purpose. I (at the time of my vegan run) had to daily work on verbally announcing to myself when I saw a bag of something on the shelf or a box of something in the pantry, I had to tell myself, “that is not food!” and I would have to search my house for something that nature had provided me, not the laboratory. Simply put, the only thing I would allow myself to eat would be a food item where the ingredient, was the ingredient! Make sense? It had to in its natural form, a piece of fruit, vegetable, or something else that grew out of the earth, but not in a processed form! If there were more ingredients than the ingredient, it was off limits!
This little activity actually began to give me power. Sounds funny, but having the strength to say no to artificial food-like food and yes to something natural, even though I would go through periods of feeling hungry, this sense of inner strength made me proud of my decision and each time, it became easier and easier.
Try practicing this activity, and I promise you will begin to see improvements in your health and energy levels!