Fed Up with Diet By Advertising

Sugar – looks pretty innocent, doesn’t it?

In honor of the release of Fed Up, a documentary about the power of sugar in our food supply, I’ve decided to take another look at my own (and my children’s sugar intake), and to remind myself WHY I would still be concerned about it.

This documentary, and most of what I’ve read about sugar and processed food in the last 10 year,s leads me to the conclusion that I cannot trust food manufacturers with my health. (See Salt, Sugar, Fat for more about that.) And it seems to me that there is often an inverse relationship between the amount of packaging and readiness and the healthfulness of the actual item. There are, of course, exceptions in the “natural foods” category. I can purchase prepared foods with less sugar, fewer chemicals, but these items ARE exceptions.

I don’t particularly want to build a life of eating exceptions. Processed food that doesn’t contain excessive salt, sugar, and fat is usually very expensive, and frankly, it’s just unnecessary. Somewhere along the way some very smart guys (think Mad Men with fewer cocktails and hopefully a little less infidelity) did a real good job of convincing Americans that we don’t have time to actually prepare (rather than warm) our food and that we’ll be fine just purchasing and warming the stuff their corporate sponsors produce.

The notion that we should be eating processed food, that it’s yummy, that it’s nutritious, that it’s convenient, that it’s inexpensive is an ad campaign. That’s it. And ad campaign. It’s not science. It’s not sound personal finance or family friendly economics. It’s not what your doctor recommended or what your grandma told you to do. It’s an ad campaign. I don’t want to build a life on an ad campaign. I don’t want my children’s health to be the result of an ad campaign.

Here at the pantry Big Sis and I have consistently embraced the fundamental importance of real food – food that you cook for yourself – as the cornerstone of a healthy diet. There are lots of models of “healthy” eating out there and they differ in some pretty important ways, but almost all of the ones that involve a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary restriction or substitution of their processed food for your preferred processed food, will lead you to Michael Pollan’s very sound, and very simple advice about food. 1) Eat food (by this he means food, not packages or chemicals), 2) Mostly vegetables, 3) Not too much.

Notice that nowhere in this simple advice does Mr. Pollan suggest that you consume a whole lot of sugar. If you are convinced that you don’t have time to eat better, or that there’s no way that changing your eating habits can really work or be affordable or fit into your schedule, I implore you to see Fed Up, or read Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Don’t have time for all that? Check out our posts on sugar, on Salt, Sugar, Fat. Make sure you know the true cost of that easy food. If you’re convinced, but not sure where to turn, we can help. Check out our Sugar Busting and Baby Steps to Better Health series. Or take 5 minutes and read about cutting sugar at breakfast time. You can do this; you really can. We’ll help.

While you get started, I’ll be doubling back, checking for slippage, doing some quick calculations of my and my kids’ regular sugar intake. When it comes right down to it, we just don’t need that much, and the less we eat, the less we need to enjoy a little sweet satisfaction in our long, healthy lives.

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5 responses

  1. This is great. As a family that battles obesity, diabetes and hypoglycemia, we are constantly watching our sugar. It’s amazing how much can be in a container of yogurt! And yogurt is ‘supposed to be’ healthy. For me growing up, everything had to be low fat, which introduced a lot of the sugar. Can’t wait to read your other articles!

  2. Reblogged this on Momisms – My Moments in Motherhood and commented:
    I found this article on My Sisters Pantry blog. It is a pretty great blog, but I just love this article. The blog is offering great tips and information about cutting the sugar in your diet. Do you ever look at labels? Check out the label on that ‘healthy’ yogurt next time and see how much sugar is in there. My family is sensitive to sugar. Too much sugar is not good for anyone and food companies hide it everywhere! Watch the video for the #FedUp campaign, get informed and get crackin. Lucy, we (me) gots some work to do!

  3. I am glad we are seeing so many informative documentaries, movies, and commercials that put the truth in front of us. We cannot pretend to be uninformed or play the blame game. We are all responsible for the choices we make.

  4. I am incredibly lucky enough to live in an area where there are farmer’s markets 7 days a week and fresh produce 365 days a year. But it is disheartening when we go home to my husband’s small hometown in Upstate NY, where it is so difficult to find good, fresh foods that people naturally turn to the easier and more convenient choice of processed foods. Thank goodness that these documentaries are coming out. I hope that they spark a food revolution that will start to turn our country and our eating habits back down a more natural and healthy path. Thanks for sharing!

    • It is remarkable how different access to decent food can be in this country. I too am hopeful that this movie (and the others) will get enough attention to help people make some meaningful and healthful changes. Thanks for stopping by!

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