Every day we watch TV segments about being a smart shopper, or read from a popular holistic practitioner, or a well-known Registered Dietitian (RD) that we should be smart shoppers, and how to make smart choices.
What is this hype about? What does it mean? That we are dumb by nature, and now we should think smarter? What is the real differences between choosing an ice cream instead of fruits?
So great is man’s hunger for forbidden food!
We all know that forbidden food (in this case, fatty food, sugary foods) is detrimental to our health, but still we always want it, and ask for it. Psychologists, and experts are still searching for the reasons why we choose what we eat; of course satiety and hunger are key factors. But convenience, cost and, appearance are very crucial ones.
Why to be a smart shopper may not be for you
- Culture, Ethnic background and Religion: In the recent decades eating habits have changed dramatically in America. Parents choose candy for snacks, and ready meals for lunch, and dinner. Because moms are no longer have time to cook healthy meals. Kids are rewarded with candy for everything they do. These social behaviors led to the epidemic obesity, and chronic diseases. Different ethnic groups have distinctive eating patterns. Also, being a religious belief may prevent you from eating certain foods. I come from from the Middle East,where the food culture of eating is to eat everything available in the environment (mostly plant foods).
- Mass Media: Commercials brainwashed for many consumers,the Media has worked with big food companies to create ads that manipulate people’s feelings and beliefs and make claims that their products are healthy to attract more people. The popular expression “shopping smarter” is repeated again and again. To me it means that we deliver messages for people that you are stupid, and now you should stand and take an action, because it’s the right time for a company to release a new product like whole grain granola bars, or new protein smoothie flavored with your favorite type of fruit.. Just for you!
- Retailers: Once I saw in a popular supermarket (claimed to promote healthy lifestyles through their goods) an aisle for a stationary stuff for kids. The opposite aisle was filled with snacks, and candy. This is a way to get kid’s attention so they will ask their parents for more candy!
- Life style : A lot of people don’t really care about their health, even if they are suffering from nutrition-related diseases like diabetes. They live by the motto “life is too short”, so they indulge in all the food they love as much as they want!
- Emotional Instability: Suffering from an unstable emotional status like being divorced or a single parent or widowed or abused or depressed or any other kind of emotional instability, pushes you to eat irrationally and choose whatever makes you feel comfortable, like eating a high carbohydrates diet.
But does this mean that we can’t change it? What to do?
Changing the culture and how it influences the way we consume food, will take years. . All RDs and nutrition experts should take the responsibility, and find ways to convince people to change their eating behaviors .I know I should address my posts to people who interested in being healthy, but I want to be realistic, pushing people to do something they don’t believe in will lead to more bad eating habits.
Here’s what you can do:
- Work on your taste buds, by cutting sugar and salt from your meals; try to sense the natural flavors of food items.
- Set a schedule for yourself, decide what books you want to read about healthy food, seek help from an RD or a nutritionist, go shopping for groceries for real food, and grow multiple plants and herbs in your backyard if possible.
- Cook with your kids, partner or a friend to make the cooking experience more exciting.
- Stop being picky and don’t resist change. Try a different way of living, give your body a chance by eating different food items.
- Don’t let yourself be the target of mass media, don’t watch commercials, and don’t engage in conversations with coworkers, friends, etc. about new trends of healthy products.
- Stop bullying & judging the overweight people, let people live a normal life!
- Mothers, teachers, celebrities and all the influential characters in the communities, should be role models for the next generations.
For Further Reading:
Food, Physiology, and Psychology http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/6937
What Is In My Food? http://healthpsychology.org/what-is-in-my-food/