The Lies of the Food Industry

September 2017

[Nutrition]

The Food Industry; It Lies

This blog could be huge, but I’m only going to touch on it at the moment… (think ‘tip of the iceberg’ and you’ll get the picture). My point I would like to start getting across is this: we are misled, lied to and exposed to a mass of conflicting information by the food industry.

If you ever want to achieve an optimal level of health, fitness and wellness for yourself, an awareness of this topic and understanding the food industry and how your choices are influenced by clever marketing and advertising is vital.

I grew up thinking that a healthy breakfast consisted of branded cereal that was advertised as being ‘fortified with vitamins and minerals’ along with a glass of orange juice from a carton because it contained ‘one portion of your 5-a-day’. This sounded reasonably healthy to me at the time. Why wouldn’t it be healthy? You take it on good faith that these products do what they say… but the truth is, they’re misleading you in a big way.

How many times have you heard that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’? There are many sources that back this claim, but isn’t it funny how breakfast cereal companies back this so much too… ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so buy our cereal!’

And so it began… the cereal craze took over for decades and is now a massive influence in our young generation’s nutrition and daily food routine. There are even breakfast biscuits available which claim to have just as many nutritional benefits… Seriously?!?!

Let me introduce you to a mind blowing fact… breakfast isn’t really the most important meal of the day. There’s a lot of things to consider, but I will explain why in the not so distant future before I get side-tracked (easily done).

I was spurred on to write this particular blog after I overheard a few students talking about health and nutrition in a supermarket recently. The topic of conversation was more specifically geared towards how to stay healthy and properly nourished with the changing seasons. In typical student style, they had a pretty good debate going on…

Student ‘A’ was holding several cans of soup, insisting that they should buy lots of that particular soup because it would last a long time in the cupboard without going off. Furthermore, each can claimed to contain one portion of your ‘5-a-day’ fruit and veg, so why wouldn’t you buy it?! It was also quick, convenient and wouldn’t waste much time in preparing a meal. Just stick it in a bowl, whack it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and you’re there… The appeal is obvious. The deception is less so.

Student ‘B’ on the other hand wanted to buy some type of blender. In the blender, they wanted to put lots of fresh root vegetables and make their own soup. They could then freeze some up and keep the rest in the fridge for a few days. Student A argued that it would just go off easily though and they would only end up throwing a lot of it away; essentially a waste of time and money.

This was going back and forward for a while, but ultimately Student A wasn’t budging. It was clearly written on the can that the contained ‘1 of your 5-a-day’ so it must be true. Also, by eating two or three cans a day, you could consume 2 or 3 portions of your recommended ‘5-a-day’…another dangerous concept that hasn’t been made clear.

Whilst many items are advertised as containing a portion of fruit and / or veg, here’s something massively important to remember; your 5-a-day refers to FRESH fruit and vegetables, not ones from a can or package. At this point, I could go massively off topic (again) and go into how poor the ‘5-a-day’ target really is for our country (think 10 a day and you’re getting there). But I will fight the urge to stay on point.

Fresh fruit and veg has a shelf life, and a short one at that. Why? Because it’s not had any shit added to it. If it rots after a week, good – it’s real. Just make sure you eat it in time.

If you can store your fruit and veg for months on end, alarm bells should be ringing. It’s been through a process, had preservatives and additives thrown in along the way. Very rarely do processed fruits and vegetables contain all the natural vitamins, minerals and fibre when subjected to a factory process and stuck in a tin. You get ‘short changed’ in terms of the nutritional density of certain foods. All the calories, half the goodness.

So when these tinned soups claim to have two portions of veg within, that might be the case, but at what cost?! What has happened to all that goodness? All those lovely fresh fruits and veg with a short shelf life have suddenly found the elixir of life! You certainly cannot let this count towards your daily intake of FRESH fruit and veg. Not to mention the amount of added salt and sugar in some of these products. YIKES!

Canned products to look out for include: soups, broths, baked beans, spaghetti and ravioli but to name a few. They are all highly processed that are overloaded with salt and sugar. Optimal health? I think not. Certain canned products, such as basic chopped tomatoes and kidney beans, are exempt from this of course. These are single ingredient foods; rarely do they contain a mass load of additives and preservatives.

If you’re buying a food product with claims that it has your daily intake of fruit and veg, ask yourself the following questions… Has the product been through a factory process? Are there more than 2 – 3 ingredients in a product? Are there any ingredients listed that you don’t know what the hell they are?! Does it have a long shelf life?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, my advice would be to avoid at all costs. You certainly won’t be getting anywhere near the benefits that you would from freshly prepared food.

Moral of the story; steer away from canned goods such as soups and baked beans. They are sold by companies who spend millions on marketing and advertising.

And to Student B who chose fresh veg and a blender, you are on the right lines my friend. Spend time learning to cook, trying new methods and ingredients. Make a mess, get it wrong time after time, but know that you’re on a journey. No one gets it all right first time. Some people take years discovering what works for them. By doing this, you will discover great personal health and wellness achievements.

Smart, informed and educated decisions are the way forward with nutrition. Learn about food, understand what’s in it and you will take another step towards optimal levels of health.

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