Polluted Food is Yummy Not Skummy

Big Burgers

One reason that Food Pollution (FP) and it’s impact goes unrecognized, is that, unlike most pollution, which is skummy and disgusting, polluted food registers in our brains as “Yummy!”  This is because many of the pollutants in our food are highly addicting. As a result, we cannot get enough of polluted foods. Consider some of the choices that our children are faced with when it comes to fast food. These nutritional facts are based upon a single serving size. Notice the amount of sugar.

Fast Food By The Numbers

Cake

Looking at number 10, The Keg Carrot Cake ala mode, you may be wondering how it is even possible for a single piece of carrot cake to have nearly a cup and a half of sugar? After researching it, I still do not really understand the baking chemistry that makes this possible, but I believe it has something to do with the emulsifiers. This desert made the news in 2012 and was subsequently removed from the menu, likely due to public reaction. This is encouraging, as it illustrates the power of public opinion. However, we should not assume that there haven’t been many similar items that have since taken it’s place.

Are We Being Hoodwinked Into Eating Highly Addicting Foods?

The American public buys into the propaganda that we can eat anything as long as we eat it in moderation. In other words, all we have to do is exercise self-control. Take polluted food out of the equation and this might be a reasonable assumption. Given the proliferation of polluted food, however, this is a dangerous assumption. The good news is that parents have control over what their children eat at home, at least in theory.  The bad news is that most people are uninformed about what is in the food they feed their children, how dangerous it is, and why they should eliminate the pollutants altogether.  

I have had conversations with parents of a teen suffering from Binge Eating Disorder, for example, in which I suggest removing all foods and snacks with addicting and/or toxic ingredients from the home.  It isn’t at all uncommon for one or both parents to respond with something akin to “Do you think that would be fair to the other children in the family? Why should they be punished because their sister Binges?” In other words, it is seen as a punishment to remove the addicting and fattening foods/snacks! The assumption is that our food is basically safe to eat, and we are all entitled to a “treat” now and then. The other operating assumption is that the Bingeing child is “choosing” to binge, and can therefore “choose” not to binge.  This is a very common misperception regarding bulimia.

The saddest thing about this sort of reasoning, aside from how difficult it makes things for my patient, is that in many cases, it is actually the parent who would feel punished if these snacks were not around.  In other words, they may be as addicted to the highly processed foods as their children without realizing it. The difference between the parent and the child is that the parent may be able to exercise more control for a variety of reasons, whereas the child cannot.

Unfortunately the parent has often bought into the propaganda that foods are safe in moderation, such that they blame themselves if and when they eat too much of them.  Following that logic, they also assume that their children can and should exercise the same self-control. The reality is that most U.S. children have been ingesting addicting pollutants almost from birth and by 3 or 4 are truly addicted. As they get older, and as we see the development of bingeing or worse bulimia, (binging and purging) their endocrine systems are so damaged, and they are so addicted to the processed foods, that unless they eliminate them altogether, they will be fighting a loosing battle.

Junk Food

Here We Go: The Birth of An Eating Disorder

The most important thing to be mindful of when it comes to the theory that we should be able to eat anything in moderation, is that processed foods are rarely eaten in moderation.  Moms and dads may come home to find a child parked in front of the TV with a bag of potato chips that were fried in Canola Oil and a soft drink loaded with 12 teaspoons of sugar, or worse a sugar substitute. These foods are addicting and damaging to the systems that regulate healthy eating and fat storage. If a food is addicting, and if it is there, it will find its way into the hands of the addicted.  Then when the parent comes home and finds the bag of cookies or container of ice cream empty, s/he lets the unfortunate culprit/child have it. Of course, this reaction provokes guilt and/or defiance.  What it doesn’t do is lesson the likelihood of bingeing. It often leads to a decision to be less obvious (or “sneaky”, as many parents see it) in the future.  

I want cookies

Now when mom or dad come home, the evidence is not as obvious. It isn’t until they look in the child’s room, where candy wrappers from school candy machines, soda cans, and/or empty chip bags are found under the bed, that they discover the behavior hasn’t changed.  This is the beginning of sneaking food and eating it on the sly.  The guilt, which can also be a guilty pleasure, sets in motion a pattern of closet eating/bingeing that can last a lifetime.

Fast Food or Slow Death?

Brands

                                   

               

The marketing efforts of the fast food industry in the U.S. are effective, in that they drive unbridled eating.  The constant media barrage of fast food advertisers normalizes eating foods that are polluted and as such, often lead to food addictions, obesity and other chronic health problems. Because the underlying assumption in the U.S. is that all foods are ok as long as we eat them in moderation, the problems they cause become self-perpetuating without the conscious awareness of the victim.

For example, the following slogans normalize food cravings and overeating in my opinion, and suggest that a fast food can be a healthy alternative:

Sometimes you’ve got to break the rules-Burger King

Come hungry. Leave happy…IHOP

Gather ‘Round the Good Stuff…Pizza Hut

Making people happy through food…Carl’s Jr.

When you’re crazy for chicken…El Pollo Loco

CO-infographic

Specific Services:

Family Therapy – Using Natural Consequences for Effective Parenting

Clean Eating Boot Camp for Parents

Coaching for Shopping, Preparing and Enjoying Clean Foods

Treatment for Food Addiction

Cooking Class (for children and parents)

Functional Diagnostic Nutritional Assessment

Continuity of Care for Obese and Medical Conditions (Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Autoimmune Disorders, Cancer, etc)


[1]According to the World Health Organization, a single exposure to hexane can cause vertigo, dizziness, and drowsiness. It is also a skin irritant. In addition Long-term exposure may cause neuropathy, anorexia, and diminished reflexes. These are all conditions that have accelerated among U.S. children in the past 2 decades.

[2] Consumer Reports actually bought and tested infant formula for genetically engineered DNA and found that Similac was using GMO soy in their products. (http://www.consumersunion.org/food/gefny999….)