Last week a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition revealed the UK consumes the most ultra processed foods in Europe. A whopping 52.7% of all the food bought by families is now classed as ultra processed, meaning food that’s made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives. Food that has been invented by food technologists.
Us Brits are leaving less space in our supermarket trolleys for real food. Instead we’re loading up on salty snacks, sugary cereals, reconstituted meat and soft drinks to name a few items and our health and waist lines are suffering because of it.
Processed cheese made of milk powder and additives, instant noodles made of oils, starch and additives. Noodles that are not noodles!! Cheap ingredients made on a mass scale.
“But Claire,” I hear you cry
“Just hearing you talk about instant noodles makes me feel a bit peckish! We love the science food”.
And therein lies the big problem with consuming this food. It’s been designed to look attractive and to make you want to eat more of it. So many of us blame our willpower, or a lack of it, when it comes to being unable to turn down this type of food. We shame ourselves into thinking it’s a failing on our part when the truth is we are up against a huge industry machine here.
In his book, Salt, Sugar and Fat, Michael Moss spoke to 300 food industry insiders who revealed they hire “craving experts” to create a “bliss point” in order to create “heavy users.”
These high glycemic foods send our blood sugar levels soaring, triggering our nucleus accumbens, your brain’s pleasure centre, which drives you to seek out more of this type of food and triggers further food cravings that last for many hours after consumption.
Ultimately when we eat these types of foods we’re getting far less of what our bodies actually need, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre to name a few.
Professor Carlos Monteiro who led the research team on this study, revealed his deep concern about the links between ultra-processed food with obesity and poor health.
“We are consuming every day an amount of new substances that are these flavours and colours and emulsifiers and we don’t have any idea as to what will be the problem of these items.”
If you’d like to take back your supermarket trolley or even just reduce the amount you’re buying then here are a few suggestions for you to try.
- Don’t buy it! I wish there was an easier way but really if you don’t buy it then you cant eat it. Processed food is everywhere, there’s no escaping it. It’s there at the checkout, at the garage, even in gyms! The only environment you can control is the one at home. If it’s not in your cupboards you’re already winning.
- Avoid eating something your Grandma wouldn’t recognise as real food. Now if Granny had a real hankering for Mono sodium Glutamate this analogy isn’t going to work for you, but try and make the bulk of the food you eat real. A real strawberry vs its dehydrated counterpart is going to be so much better for you. Become label savvy.
- Does it need an ad campaign to sell it to you? Froot loops, a cereal made without any fruit, that is going to need an ad campaign for sure. Be wary of health claims on the packaging, you don’t see bananas banging on about being high in fibre or one of your five a day. Approach packaged items with caution.
- Generally try and stick to the outside aisles of your supermarket. There you’ll find fresh produce. It’s easy to get lost in those middle aisles try to remember they are dangerous to your bank balance and your waist line.
- Look after yourself. Stress and lack of sleep make it so much harder to fight cravings for sugary food. Supplements like Chromium and Glutamine are great for combating cravings. Simply eating more fibre will also help balance out those blood sugar levels and avoid spikes that drive cravings and hunger.
One final thought I’d like to leave you with is this. You deserve better. You deserve better than to be on a never ending hamster wheel of sugar highs and lows generated by something masquerading itself as food. You deserve food that nourishes rather than depletes you. Where possible choose food that moves you closer to your health goals rather than further away.
I hope this has been useful, I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for stopping by!