‘Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ by Michael Moss

Salt, Sugar, Fat bookThis is something of a book review but also a reiteration of something I read and talk about a lot. That is the simple fact we as individuals are not as responsible for our own waistlines as we might think. The food manufacturers have got a great deal to answer for, as it is due to their addictive products, savvy marketing and the scientifically planned food shops that are actually largely to blame.

The people behind all the fattening and sugary products out there know full well that human beings are hard-wired to seek out the most delicious and fattening foods available. This harkens back to our caveman days when sweet foods meant the occasional berry bush you may stumble on, and fattening meant the fat of the animals you had hunted down with your bare hands. Of course food gathering is very different these days but our biology hasn’t changed. So the tastes and macronutrients (fat, protein and carbs) we were only supposed to consume sparingly, can be consumed as much as we like, and we do. As the book says, “They’ve discovered that the brain lights up for sugar the same way it does for cocaine, and this knowledge is useful, not only in formulating foods.”

And the people behind the products know this, as pointed out in the book with a quote from the former CEO of General Mills, the company behind Cherrios, Lucky Charms and the Betty Crocker products: “Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he said, taking on the voice of a typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”

Some of the top food execs have had more of a conscience than others and tried to make changes to the nutritional profile of their companies’ products, but generally these execs have not lasted long when they have tried out this approach. Their companies are there to make money after all, and therefore the more people like the products the more they will buy, and the more money they’ll make. Duh!

The book talks about the various diet trends we go through, and how the food manufacturers cash in on this. All those “low fat” or “sugar free” products attract people to their products who would usually avoid them. But the loss of fat or sugar comes at a dietary cost. In order to make up for the removed element, a long list of additives are usually added to make up for the loss in flavour. As I’ve said in previous posts this makes for foods that our body is not designed to process, which leads to all manner of problems for the human body. It is very telling to me that the book points out that a great many of the people who work for the big companies avoid all processed foods.

I could go off on one because this is a topic that really riles me, but if you are in anyway interested then I urge you to read the book. The reason that I wanted to blog about it is because I want people to realise that the products that cause us to pile on the pounds have been painstakingly created so that you can’t resist buying and eating them, in order that you make the companies behind them lots of money.

We all beat ourselves up when we indulge and blame our lack of willpower but the reality is that in this day and age it is extremely hard to rise above all the salt, sugar and fat that is out there to tempt us. Once you know what the food manufacturers are up to however, you can see through their marketing strategies and consequently get much better at resisting their products. And when you do and realise how much you feel much better for it and it is strangely liberating.

Buy ‘Salt, Sugar, Far: How the Food Giants Hooked Us’ on Amazon.

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