What are you eating?! A health coach perspective on how big tobacco poisoned the food industry.
Would you eat tobacco? Of course not. It is a leafy green plant - could possibly pass for kale or some kind of mutant spinach. But we know it's full of nicotine, which is highly addictive. We also know that the processed tobacco is made to be even more addictive than the plant by how it's processed - and now we know that the same skill and science has been applied to processed food too. And there begins the problem: Food being engineered not to be healthier or do something good for you, but specifically to activate the reward centers and hormones in your rain. The same neural pathways that light up when you use a drug known to be addictive.
“The products we make are not injurious to health,” Tobacco Industry Research Committee in a 1954 advertisement.
“Sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity" American Beverage Association - 2012,
Many of the brands that make and sell the food that you love are, or were, owned by experts in addiction- Big tobacco*.
Everyone knows their prowess at marketing to younger consumers and no one would argue that their products aren't addictive, or that they know how to manipulate the chemicals in those products to help keep you addicted. It's also no secret that for years big tobacco manipulated nicotine levels and worked their magic specifically to get new customers and keep them and their existing customers addicted to nicotine - whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or their newest weapon against our health - vaping.
But, here's the thing: Did you know that big tobacco jumped into the food manufacturing arena in the mid 1980's? A few major (IE multi-billion dollar) tobacco companies have, for more than two decades, owned dozens of almost as big food companies.
And what does a big company want to do with another big company? Make money. And the way they know how to do that is to design things that will make you want more. No secret that nicotine is a drug and that with most drugs as time goes on you need more and more of that drug to have the same effect.
Food manufacturers have long employed food engineers to make their products taste better - but when big tobacco jumped into the food game in the mid 1980's it changed what, how and why we eat, and none of it for the better. Basically, big tobacco's scientists and addiction experts got together with the scientists and experts in the food labs and helped them apply all of that all of their knowledge of addiction and how our brains respond to pleasure to the food industry. They stopped engineering food for health and started engineering food and drinks so that our reward centers would be activated, telling us we want more of that, and making us come back for more, beginning the process of forming a habit.
"Betcha can't eat just one", "No is the new yes", "Obey your thirst", "Once you pop you can't stop" are examples of slogans used in marketing, but they really tell a story of what food manufactures are really trying to do to us via the food the sell us (under the direction of big brother tobacco). They desperately want you to try their product, which they know will hit the reward centers of your brain, and you will like it and the next time you see their ad you'll be even more likely to go back for more.
Ever look at a can of cola? 75mg of sodium - why is salt in a beverage?? To make you thirsty for more. Almost the same reason that the caffeine is there - to bring you back for more when the rush of the caffeine and sugar wears off. And how do they hide the salt? More sugar. See how that works?
Do your health a favor and start looking at nutrition labels and ingredients lists. The first step to taking control of your health is knowing what you are eating. You can't take control of it if you don’t even know what's in your food.
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*In what appears to be a very big corporate shell game, majority ownership of big tobacco companies and the major food companies, is held by private (not publicly traded) companies whose holdings don’t have to be released, so it is becoming harder and harder to prove the connections between food and tobacco, but even if the relationship had been severed, it would be hard for the food companies to forget all they learned or did in the 20+ years of being run by big tobacco, and why would they - profits were up?