My opinion piece in today’s Jersey Evening Post is about what Big Food does to make you eat their products – and what you can do instead if you so desire.
Our shops are full of festive fare, so it’s that time of year when our hands keep reaching out for ‘just one more’.
When you say, ‘I ate the lot, and without even really noticing!’ and ‘I just couldn’t help myself!’, then you are most probably right. A lot of people in Big Food have gone to the trouble of making sure that’s exactly what happens.
So, what makes you eat yet another mince pie/savoury snack/chocolate? Clever advertising helps: packaging is cheerful and often boasts health claims, nicely distracting you from what’s in the products.
Now you’ve bought it, Big Food wants you to eat it and to want more. Their food chemists work to optimise the look and feel of the food entering your mouth and the bite-crunch satisfaction. In order to add more sugar (a very cheap ingredient) without you barfing, they add more fat and salt.
Combine these to get the ideal bliss point, mouth feel and flavour burst and you have a product that is irresistible and addictive.
These ‘foods’ are also designed to have an intense taste hit at the front of your mouth, which dies off very quickly; by the time you’ve swallowed it, you’re looking to replace the taste you lost. In addition, some products are designed to melt in your mouth, so you eat more before you get the stop signals from your brain.
What’s the problem? We need fat and we need salt – but not when they are presented in snack foods along with over-refined carbohydrates and some very dubious manufactured ‘ingredients’.
These unnatural faux foods serve to deplete your health and energy and add to your waistline.
Am I saying don’t buy and eat these snacks? It’s up to you: just go in with your eyes open. Bear in mind, it’s much easier not to buy them than to say no when they are in front of you, especially if you are hungry or have been drinking alcohol.
Is it all doom and gloom? No! Instead, go for nuts (unshelled, so you have to eat them slowly), olives, hard boiled eggs, 90% dark chocolate, or ‘cheese crisps’: take ready-sliced Edam, cut into 2” squares, sprinkle with a topping of your choice (such as smoked paprika or caraway seeds), and bake at 190C for about 10 minutes until slightly crispy. Eat as crisps or use with dips.