In my work as an osteopath I am forever asking people about their diets. Food is so critical to your health that we should all be looking for the right diet for ourselves. Unfortunately we are bombarded by conflicting information and powerful and misleading advertising. As well as subliminal messages about what is good to eat.
A case in point about the sly way we are manipulated by food companies is to watch any generic American teen drama…remember ‘Saved by the Bell’?
Where do all those beautiful, slim, attractive teenagers all inevitably meet up to talk? The diner! What are they eating? Burgers, fries, milk shakes and sodas.
Yet I can guarantee that those slim, beautiful people hardly ever touch those foods in real life – the problem being they put across an image that makes it seem like they do. So we think it’s okay to follow suit.
The same is true of our supermarket shelves – rows and rows of processed foods wrapped up as family recipe pasta sauces or home cooked curry. When we look at all this food on the shelves we, quite understandably, assume that because they are allowed to sell it and it’s there in front of us, it is perfectly fine to eat. It must be safe because it’s there.
However, the only criteria for it being on the shelf is from the food safety aspect of toxic bacteria such as salmonella and e coli (there are others). As long as it is free from such dangers it can be sold. Yet its nutritional content may be so poor that it should be labelled as dangerous to eat, because not only does it have precious little goodness in it, it is laden with weird chemicals, sugar, salt and cheap, bad fats.
A case in point is this pasta sauce:
Notice how it is labelled ‘per 100g’ rather than the entire contents of the jar. This is so at a quick glance we think the amounts of bad stuff in it are small, after all, 5.8g of sugar is only a little over a teaspoon so we can dismiss that as almost irrelevant.
The problem being that most people, most of the time, will not measure out a 100g portion but will chuck the entire jar on their pasta which means they have effectively sprinkled six teaspoons of sugar on their meal! There is also almost an entire teaspoon of salt. Who EVER puts an entire teaspoon of salt in such a small amount of food when they cook for themselves.
So a family sit down to what they think is a healthy, low fat, meal of pasta (carbohydrate heavy) and tomato sauce (Carbohydrate heavy) not realising they’re only getting one macronutrient in their body – that of carbohydrates, which causes blood sugar spikes which effectively mean their body rapidly converts all the carbohydrates to fat. Yes folks, your body makes fat from a low fat meal.
Here is an even worse example:
Notice how they give you the percentages of all the vegetables but not the sugar? Even though this sauce is 13% sugar! Which is over ten teaspoons of sugar in one jar! This is horrific.
And do you know why all this sugar is added? I’ll take the pasta sauce as a case in point: The tomatoes are cooked to a very high temperature to pasteurise them. This is to ensure they will have a long shelf life – the fact it destroys the goodness of the tomatoes is irrelevant to the manufacturer.
Next lemon juice is added as a preservative. This creates an unpalatable, bitter sauce.
At this point let us draw breath and take stock: The expert chefs at this company have worked out how to create a vile tasting, inedible, overcooked tomato mush. At this point you and I would be throwing whatever was in the pan in the bin and starting again.
However, our friendly processed food manufacturer has a trick up their sleeve – add sugar! The sugar makes it taste nice again. Hurray for sugar. So you get a product with a long shelf life that tastes like a tomato sauce – it’s simple trickery to fool us into buying it.
The criteria it meets allow it to be sold – you will not get a bout of acute food poisoning from this jar. You will, however, get long term, slow food poisoning and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even arthritis from such horror products. You will also become obese.
Yet all the time we are thinking we’re eating a balanced diet and being healthy. WRONG.
Cook your food from scratch. Never trust a processed food manufacturer to provide your one and only body with any form of good nutrition.
Ensure each meal you have has some fat, some carb and some protein in it – THAT, is a balanced diet.