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The Food Industry Wants You Fat AND Anorexic

February 16, 2010

I’m so tired of having to think about food.  Many of my friends feel the same way.  And we’re not all counting calories; we’re not all trying to lose weight. Some of us are just trying to eat good food, food that’s good for us and that will sustain us without inducing guilt, illness, disease, or environmental collapse.  Because food has turned into a battleground…with our self-esteem, health, and even the planet in the crossfire.  And I for one, am sick and tired of having to think about food.

What has prompted me to write this post in particular is a recent advertisement by Campbell’s Select Harvest Light that says (note it does not imply, but blatantly STATES) that women who are dieting should eat an 80 calorie lunch.

My sentiments about this ad are pretty much summed up by another blogger here.  Andrea Phillips points out that 80 calories for lunch is equivalent to starvation…a method often used to torture.  So….Campbell’s is promoting self-starvation, which sounds a lot like….wait no is anorexia.  They should feel really, really, really bad about this move.  They could have just as easily promoted their soup by stating the finding that people who eat soup to start a meal eat fewer calories, so why not have a good soup/sandwich or soup/salad combo?  But no, they had to make women feel bad for eating a lunch with calories that reach (gasp!) the TRIPLE digits.  For lack of a better word, these people are assholes. (A new yogurt company is doing a similar thing by making a big deal about a few calories, since the leading product has a whopping 100 calories while theirs only has….wait for it….80.)

But this isn’t really that surprising given that companies are constantly trying to take advantage of our emotions when selling us our food.  Some even try and trick us into being hungry.  Ever wonder why McDonald’s colors are that horrifying yellow and red?

Yes, those colors induce hunger.  For years companies have told us that food should be used to celebrate, to mourn, to relax, to enjoy, to reward ourselves, to bring people together, and of course…to show people that we love them (which easily translates into eating in order to FEEL loved).  Couple this with soaring amounts of junk food eateries, and higher and higher demands for people at work which leaves almost no time to cook healthy REAL food at home.  Even less time to get some exercise to keep our hearts healthy and our metabolisms churning the food.

And then, ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, we (mostly women but men too) are made to feel GUILTY because we are overweight, obese, morbidly obese, and super obese.  This creates a horrifying cycle of eating to forget the guilt, becoming more guilty, and eating again.  You can see where this goes…and it’s taking a massive toll on our healthcare system.  If it were up to me, the healthcare system would be subsidized by any company that sells more than 50% of food that qualifies as “unhealthy.”   Screw the whole “everything in moderation” crap.   I’m sure some economist out there can figure out a quick mathematical equation to figure out when something has hit the the unhealthy mark; they’re very good at incorporating human factors into their equations (such as whether or not one serving is really all a person will eat).

Now companies are trying to use the “we’re healthy” campaign to take advantage of the fact that we’re either fat, or think we’re fat.  I do not give these companies any credit since they are still all about the bottom line, whether they make money by selling fat-injected, heart attack inducing slop or by making us think we’re doing something right by restricting our diets so much that we think 100 calories is outrageous for a meal.  At the end of the day, they don’t care about their consumer’s health – they only care that their consumer cares about that number on the scale, and markets to that concern.  As many people have noted, it’s not like these soups offer a whole bunch more than salt and water, so don’t count on getting a lot of nutrients from these foods.  But of course they’re banking on the fact that most people believe thin = healthy which ummm…it doesn’t.  Even the new National Action Against Obesity uses the word “Leptos” as their call to action, which is Greek for “thin.”  Really? No, but really?

So I’m tired of having to think of whether or not the food choice I’ve made is TRULY good for me aside from the proclamations made on the package.  But I’ll keep reading all the nutrition labels, scrutinizing the serving size, and trying to eat as much fresh food as I can.  Because that’s all I can do, or give in and get caught up in the crossfire between the bottom line and my health.

If you haven’t yet, I suggest watching “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.” and reading “Fast Food Nation.”

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