The more I learn about how our modern food is designed to create consumers for life -- addicts -- the angrier I get. You should be angry too, as you learn what has been done to you and your children.
More and more of what we eat has been designed in a laboratory somewhere to make you want to eat as much as possible of it. With the industrial precision of a Henry Ford, scientists have broken down cheap raw materials such as field corn into every conceivable component part and reformed it, with added flavors and fats and sweeteners to make it irresistible.
Due to farm subsidies that have encouraged the overproduction of corn, thus driving down its price, food processors were presented with a problem: How to make as many edible items out of this cheap corn as humanly possible, adding components such as high-fructose corn sweetener (HFCS) to comestibles to bulk them up inexpensively and, at the same time, make them more tasty so they sell more?
When potato-chip manufacturers say, "Bet you can't eat just one!", they aren't kidding. Obesity is just a natural side-effect of their business plan to sell as much of their products as possible. Your health is only considered from a liability standpoint -- they don't want to be sued. (It's bad for their bottom line.) "Your health is YOUR problem", seems to be their philosophy of business.
A study I read recently found that children eat twice as much of the highly sweetened breakfast cereals, compared to how much they eat of unsweetened ones. I have wondered for years why sugar was put in soups and practically every processed food on the store shelves. Now I know. It makes it taste better to our carbohydrate-seeking taste buds, so we eat more and we never really get satisfied by sweet foods -- we just get stuffed.
Then too, placing sugar in every conceivable packaged snack helps profitably use the huge surplus of HFCS that farm subsidies have caused. It is cheap, so it's used in preference to other nutritious ingredients and it's addictive, making us want to consume more.
We wonder why there is a growing trend toward obesity in the USA and in other prosperous countries. Article after article bemoans the problem, but still it persists.
Early in my adulthood I discovered how my moods were affected by what I ate. That and perhaps a wise word or two by some of the "health nuts" around me started me on a quest to eliminate these unhealthy, unnatural processed sugary items from my life. This has given me a rare perspective, allowing me to watch as Americans have been slowly seduced by engineered foods that are designed to make us consume more and thus profit the food processors.
I learned early on that the only way I could maintain a clear mind and consistent energy levels was by avoiding foods with refined sugar and other flavor-enhancers in them. Otherwise, I would have become a food addict and miserable like mo st of those around me.
The economic trend of inflation in the 1970s forced mothers to go to work to help support families that previously only needed one income also led to more buying of prepared foods to heat up after work. By a major shift from healthy foods made from raw ingredients selected and prepared by a loving parent to preparation of the nation's food supply in large factories for the sole purpose of selling and profiting more each quarter, we turned our health over to the wrong party.
The trend toward fast food and industrially-manufactured foodstuffs opened Pandora's Box
Another item you will see on food labels is MSG, although it goes by many aliases, so you won't recognize it and safely avoid it. MSG makes your stomach secrete more digestive juices. You tend to eat more of items that contain MSG because they seem to taste better. I throw that tidbit of information in to show you the diabolical lengths agribusinesses will go t o in order to trick "consumers" -- that's all we are to them -- to eat more of their products.
Sugar definitely causes a predictable spike in our body's insulin production, at least until we wear out our insulin receptors and become insulin-resistant. With sugar nearly everywhere in what we eat and drink, we -- some of us more than others -- tend to be hungry for more of the substances that gave us a brief lift. Like drug addicts, we are unconsciously being driven to find our next "hit." This leads to over-eating, which leads to obesity. And somewhere along the way (it varies from person to person depending on how sensitive they are to sugars and their diet preferences -- the normal insulin response no longer rids the bloodstream of all the sugars we consume and we slide into pre-diabetes and finally, diabetes itself.
I'm sure there are attorneys out there trying to prove causation of some poor fool's diabetes and/or obesity on McDonald's or Stauffer's or any of the other big names in processed foods. I wish them luck. With sugar used to make so many items taste better -- and with Americans grazing so voraciously over a wide spectrum of manufactured delectables -- it will be hard to pin the tail on just one, deep-pocketed, donkey, as they did with the tobacco industry.
The take-away message here is this: Diabetes, obesity, and a plethora of other diet-induced diseases can only be prevented by regaining control over what you're eating. Learning to cook from scratch and finding the time to prepare your own lunches will be the least of your worries. The hard part is overcoming an addiction to the devilish formulations of special flavor enhancing chemicals, including refined high-fructose corn syrup, that the U.S. food industry has shackled you to.
Right now, most of us are in various degrees of Denial. We can't get to "Square One" because we won't admit that it is what we're eating that is causing the probl em. We go on make-believe diets for a few weeks, where we're forced to live on less, while still maintaining that addiction to the taste and mouth-feel of sugar and fats. As soon as we finish our diet," we go back to our old habits in most cases, leading us to gain back all the weight we lost and more.
Our health -- and our natural environment -- are being destroyed for the profits of the processed food industry. This industry that gave Americans obesity and diabetes is now hungrily seeking ever-larger profits by addicting the rest of the world to our unhealthy, but seductive convenience foods.
What Is The Answer?
We are each individually responsible for what we choose to eat. It is foolish to expect the inspectors of the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect us from our addiction to food products that cause diabetes. Government subsidies for corn farmers created the opport unity and the necessity to put our vaunted creativity to work in finding clever ways to induce people to eat more food.
Don't look to government to protect you from obesity and diabetes. Government subsidies have made it all possible, but your repeated purchases are what keep it profitable.
Become an informed consumer and stop making processed food companies rich while you are becoming sick and slowly impoverished by the medical consequences of what you eat. Diabetes is a killer: Don't be a partner in the crime.
(Supporting research for the conclusions presented in this article came from Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, and Diet for a New America, by John Robbins.)
Paul H. Kemp is an entrepreneur, writer, and amateur athlete. He has also served as an Economic Development Consultant for the U.S. Department of Commerce and local Chambers of Commerce, specializing in rural business opportunities.
For more information to help you regain control of your health, visit http://www.HealthyPlanetDiet.com.
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