Since I’m so busy, I kind of like the thought of having food readily available in my freezer for my kids to eat on an evening I just haven’t gotten around to fixing dinner. (It’s lazy and an excuse to not have to think ahead all the time)
Last week I picked up these tacos at Costco along with some chicken nuggets so they’d be an easy choice to eat.
Tonight I decided to pull them out and cooked them for my family.
An hour later, I took a couple of my boys to the grocery store to pick out a few things. My 16 year old mentioned that his stomach felt “bleh” from the tacos. He said they didn’t even taste that good, but that he just felt like he couldn’t stop eating them and now he didn’t feel so great.
My heart sank. Earlier this week I watched a TED talk by sugar scientist and UCSF professor of health policy, Laura Schmidt (link here if you want to watch it) . Her talk reaffirmed to me the research I’ve studied about how food corporations manufacture their food to be as addicting as possible. It’s the way to ensure their customer wants to buy their food, eats their food regularly, and that their food becomes a habit. I can understand (although I don’t like it) that from a food corporation’s viewpoint, it is a brilliant way to increase their profits.
One of the examples Dr. Schmidt gave is how scientists, whose job it is to make customers addicted to their food, will give someone one of their food products (such as a Doritos) to eat as they have a brain scan to see what areas of the brain light up. That way they see where and how they need to tweak their food to affect the most vulnerable parts of the brain.
It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. And when my son said tonight that he hadn’t been able to stop eating the tacos, I panicked a little. Or maybe a lot.
Here was proof.
Exactly what Dr. Schmidt and other researchers have said.
My son didn’t even like the tacos. However, his brain kept giving signals to keep eating the food.
This is NOT okay with me.
I’m sure I have more food in my fridge and freezer that do the same thing as the tacos. I’m not sure what to do. I’m angry, confused, upset, and frustrated.
How are my kids and grand kids supposed to develop normal brains in a society where video games, pornography, cell phones, computers, social media, and food all are programmed to change the chemical make up of their brains?
What do I do? Should I go all vegan and organic, unplug from all social media and internet, homeschool my kids, and live in a mountain somewhere far away to protect my kids while eating buffalo and wild rabbit?
I sadly feel it might help in the moment but delay the inevitable. My loved ones will all exposed to these addictive substances and practices.
My kids brains are going to have to learn to outsmart the scientists. They are going to have to stay away from things that make them susceptible to addiction. As their mom, I’m going to have to help them make better food choices. I will still have freezer food for them. But maybe I’ll need to start batch prepping homemade burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and precooked chicken.
If it’s important to me I’ll find a way. I want to be the boss of my own brain!
Ever since I finished The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and read that most people turn to the right when they enter the grocery store, I’ve been turning left. Stores will put some of their most appealing items to the right of the store so you see them first when you enter.
I also learned that the reason produce is in the front of the store (logically NOT the best place to put produce in a store since it is easily bruised, sensitive to temperature, and exposed to lots of traffic) is because they followed thousands of shoppers as they shopped. They carefully watched their habits. They found that if the shoppers bought produce FIRST they were much more likely to buy the junk food and candy and crackers later. It’s like shoppers justified that if they put healthy foods in our cart first, they could get the less healthy later.
So now I get my produce LAST.
I’ll show them. That’s right. I’ll be the one going the opposite direction as everyone else in the shopping aisles buying my healthy stuff and ignoring what the stores want me to notice.
Who wants to join me?
I understand that my frustrations don’t have to be your frustrations. But I invite you to decide what eating patterns and habits you want to create in your own life and make your own decisions.
I am powerful. I can make a difference, even if just for my own family. You are powerful too. You can do the same.