Americans, and most notably, American kids, are eating more sugar and sodium than ever before. A recent study found that American toddler ate three times more sugar than recommended for the average American adult. I don’t need to tell you how horrific this is, the truly dire health consequences these statistics entail.
I don’t need to tell you cuz you’re not an idiot. Regardless of what social media tells you, as a society, we’re not imbeciles. We know not to feed our kids ice cream for breakfast. We’re not letting our youth gorge on soft pretzels and Smarties all day. Michele Obama taught us better, remember? There was a music video with Beyonce and everything.
As we’ve gotten smarter, food companies have gotten sneakier. Now that the reports of the harmful effects of excess sugar, salt, and calories have flooded in, food companies have claimed more awareness. They are, for example lowering the sugar content of popular cereals. All’s well that ends well, for, as a whole, we’ve lessened feeding our kids that kind of stuff anyway.
Instead, companies are funneling that sugar, salt, and calories into more…innocuous foods. These additives are addictive. Kraft wants us addicted to their products be they cereal or pasta sauce. How do food companies attempt to deliver unworldy amounts of dangerous additives to the consumer? And how can we use batch cooking to outsmart them and save money in the process?
Put Some Twix on It and Call It a Pizza
Food manufacturers have employed the bliss point in an attempt to get us addicted to their products. Food companies put enough (and a very specific combination of) salt, sugar, and fats to be on the tippy-top point of insatiability. This means that if even an iota more of salt or sugar were added to the product, it would become inedible. (“Blech! This salad dressing is too salty!” we’d exclaim.) This tippy-top point is called the bliss point.
We expect high sugar and salt content to lie in obvious junk food culprits, like Oreos. But food manufacturers tinker with bliss points in all their products. Big Food hopes that by raising the salt and sugar content to addictive levels in all foods they can influence all our food related purchases. I wasn’t just kidding around in the heading above. At this point, food companies are adding so much to sugar to “everyday” food that products like jarred spaghetti sauce have nearly as much added sugar as a Twix candy bar.
Flipping The Table
The only way to outsmart the food industry in these practices is to remove ourselves from the game. My quest for clean eating isn’t as much about what I am eating as it is about where I put my money.
I’ve never been the type to peer into grocery carts, judging. My crusade is not about vilifying food. If you want cookies, I want you to eat cookies. Need burgers to function? Fry up a big juicy one. I just don’t want anyone giving their money to corporations such as Nabisco or McDonald’s.
What they put in our food is making us sick and they know it. Every person I can convince to eat clean and thereby avoid their products, is another dollar I can snatch out of their fists. I’m not judging you, I’m mad at them.
Time to Toss the Sneaky Crap
If they’re going to poison our everyday food with additives, then we’re not going to buy them anymore. For my family, this meant paring down what we considered “essential.” Did we really need three different salad dressings? No, we needed one basic one that incorporated apple cider vinegar. Cuz ACV is really good for you. What about three different kind of bars: granola, protein and fruit? Nah, just one type of homemade, healthy granola bar can do ya. No one needs multiple types and flavors of chips. Paring down these choices will help with the decision fatigue I talked about in Part 1 and save money.
Food companies want us to think we need these things. The more products we eat from their companies, the more opportunities they have to fill us with salt and sugar. Let’s grab our trash bags again and rid our kitchens of the sneakiest culprits of hidden salt and sugar: salad dressings, jarred sauces, frozen convenience foods, diet food, yogurt, and healthy cereal. The only way to know for sure is to check your food labels.
It’s time to carve out a few hours on the weekend to make our own basics. As I’ve explained in my meal prepping article, I don’t focus on meals when prepping foods. Our meals are purposely simple, designed to lack prep time. Weekends are for staples and snacks. Not having the ultra-processed snacks and staples is the first step to healthy eating. Having acceptable alternatives to these products makes the entire journey possible.
Insert Basic Weekend Food Prep Here
The weekend is used to make a healthy week as easy as possible, making as many multi-purpose food as possible. Jarred tomato sauce is chock full of sugar, right? So now we make our own. This gives us the opportunity to avoid additive rich food and creates opportunities for easy weekday meals (boil a pot of water, throw in some pasta, cover in homemade sauce). Homemade salad dressing can double as sauce for a weekday stir fry. Use Sunday night to make a large batch of a protein source. I like to have Taco Tuesdays on Sunday and make a huge pot of refried beans that can be used for lunch burritos and bean bowls the rest of the week.
Over the weekend make tomato sauce, hummus, granola bars, salad dressings, and dips. Try to multi-task as much as you can: assemble the hummus ingredients while the chips are baking, blend the hummus up and stir together the granola bar ingredients while the sauce is simmering.
Take this time to ease the way to mindful eating as well. If you’re trying to eat salads throughout the week like me, wash and prepare greens for a giant salad tote. It will be easier to eat a salad on Monday if all we have to do is serve ourselves prepared greens and top with garnishes and dressing. Pre-portion snacks like homemade chips and nuts into Ziploc bags to deter overeating. Pre-cut and wash any fruits are vegetables that will be snacked on for the next few days.
It Only Seems Hard In The Beginning
Saying aloud, “we make all our own snacks and staples” seems like a big deal at first. But you’ll find that setting aside some time on the weekends, you’ll get a system in place in a few weeks. Start actually timing how long it takes you to get these things made. I promise you that all of this is not as big of a deal as you’re imagining right now.
Remember, I never, ever thought I would do stuff like this. If I can do it, you can do it.
Does this feel overwhelming? Don’t worry. Click here to subscribe to Ish Mom. When you do you’ll have access to this a PDF that tell you what to make this weekend!
How is your Mini-Resolution May going? Have you been using The 5 Second Rule? How are new habits settling in? Let me know in the comments below! Share this article so everybody can learn about bliss points.
Check out Part 3 of Mini-Resolution May!