Modern food is great. It tastes good, hits those dopamine receptors in the brain, has the perfect mix of sugar, fat and salt making you crave more. Put simply, modern food tastes absolutely divine. But that doesn’t mean modern food doesn’t come without problems. With the increase in consumption of modern foods, mostly ultra-processed foods, more and more people are in poor health due to various ailments despite their efforts. Here’s why modern food is a problem and why you should try to eat less modern food and ideally eliminate it (or most of it).
Since the introduction of ultra-processed foods and industrial seed oils in the 20th-century disease rates have skyrocketed. Consumption of saturated fats decreased whilst the consumption of unsaturated fats increased as they were promoted as healthy. Food became more available and hyper-palatable as food manufacturers added sugar and fat to foods to make them tastier so that consumers would eat more of these foods and the food companies would make more money.
People nowadays tend to consume more food than their body requires and after a period of time it becomes difficult for the body to store the extra energy in fat stores or adipose tissue within the body. This eventually leads to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia which can act as a trigger for various metabolic diseases.
It’s no surprise that with these rapid changes in diet the incidence of various diseases has risen within the western population. Here are a few:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s and dementia)
- Type 2 diabetes
Interestingly, when it comes to obesity, the obesity epidemic started at around the same time as the low-fat dietary guidelines were published in 1977. Correlation or causation? It’s hard to prove, but I think causation. The message these guidelines gave was strong and it certainly made sense. Of course, eating more fat makes you fat. However, as logical as it may seem, it isn’t quite as straight forward as this. Overeating, in general, will predispose your body to store excess calories as fat regardless of whether they come from fat, protein or carbohydrates. This is because excess energy which your body cannot use will be stored within fat cells regardless of what macronutrient it comes from.
Now as people become more informed and wary of their health they are trying to implement lifestyle changes to minimise their chances of being affected by these widespread diseases, and most of that comes with changing what you eat and developing a new healthy relationship with food which is focused around whole foods.
Problems With Modern Foods
Modern Foods Are Hyper-Palatable
In order to make money, the foods sold to you are hyper-palatable. They have a finely tuned mix of sugar, fat and salt. Sugar or fat on its own is nowhere near as addictive or hyper-palatable as the two combined together. Just imagine consuming ice cream without sugar – it wouldn’t taste anywhere near as delicious!
Once you get hooked onto the food it becomes harder to detach from eating the food. You have one of two options to try and limit or stop your consumption of these hyper-palatable foods:
- Consume less of these hyper-palatable foods.
- Stop consuming hyper-palatable foods altogether.
If you’re one of those people who always like to have a little treat, then cutting down or reducing the portion sizes of hyper-palatable foods is probably an effective way to reduce consumption of modern foods.
However, if you find that after a few bites of hyper-palatable foods you end up eating the whole box of chocolates, you might find it’s better to stop consuming hyper-palatable foods altogether, ideally for at least two weeks. After this time period, you may find you no longer crave the hyper-palatable foods in the same way as you once did, they simply don’t taste as good or a little bit satisfies you much more than it did beforehand. For me, I find it much easier to stop consuming hyper-palatable foods altogether.
It is worth mentioning though that food companies are responding to the demand for healthier modern foods, mostly through sugar and calorie reduction allowing consumers to enjoy their favourite foods whilst consuming less sugar and fewer calories.
Modern Foods Are Easily Accessible
Another problem is the convenience and accessibility of modern foods. People have to eat to survive and they love to eat. Companies and shops know this so they always tend to stock up on some sort of tasty food that you can buy because you see it and think “Ooh, that looks yummy.”
If the food wasn’t there in front of you, and you didn’t see it, you probably wouldn’t think much about eating it. In fact, it’s that visual cue of seeing the food and knowing from previous experiences that it’s tasty which causes you to choose to buy it. It requires a good amount of willpower and knowledge to refrain from buying these foods, that or you go into the shop without sufficient funds to buy the food.
These modern foods don’t just pop up in grocery stores they appear in:
- Newspaper shops
- Vending machines
- Fitness centres
If the food wasn’t there, you wouldn’t be anywhere near as tempted. If you’re keen on reducing your consumption of modern food the biggest step you can make is to stop buying them. This sounds rather obvious, but what this means is that these hyper-palatable modern won’t be in your household hidden in your garage or under the stairs so the temptation to eat them will be reduced. If you know the foods are there and you can reach them in a few steps then you’re more likely to indulge in them.
However, if they aren’t in the house, it means you have to go out of your way to go to the shop and buy the food. For most people, they’ll choose not to buy it since it’s too much effort. This is all to do with manipulating your environment to promote healthier eating habits by removing the foods you wish to stop eating.
Altogether, I’d suggest doing what you can to reduce your consumption of modern foods and good luck in doing so. I believe the key is to stop buying these foods and to find alternative healthier foods you like to consume. Having people to support you within your family always helps too!
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