If I didn’t know better, I would swear that there is a higher being hell bent on tempting human beings into doing the exact opposite of what they know is good and right.
The married man that yearns for another, the smoker that has already suffered from a heart attack yet still sucks on a cigarette, the alcoholic that is literally dying for another drink, the obese person that knows food is slowly killing him, but still finds himself frequenting the drive-thru more often than the kitchen.
Although we are aware that eating fatty foods is not good for us, we still make the conscious decision to consume them on a regular basis. Deep down we instinctively know that consuming masses of foods containing chemicals and additives we know nothing about, with names we can barely pronounce, can not be good for our health. We are fully aware that a poor diet can lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and shorten our life span, but we still decide to reach for a cheeseburger.
The question is… Is the momentary satisfaction of the way a particular food tastes so important to us that we are willing to hurt ourselves in exchange for those few minutes of perceived pleasure? The answer quite often is yes. I’ve done it and I know you have too. We are after all, only human.
So why is it that food can have such a strong emotional hold over us? This is a question I have spent many hours contemplating the answer. You know the scenario. You have been watching your weight and you have been doing really well. But one day at work, it’s a workmate’s birthday and they bring you a slice of cake. But it’s not just any cake. It’s your favorite cake and freshly baked this morning. You politely decline, only to be reminded by your workmate that it is only their birthday once a year and it would be rude not to have just one slice. The battle starts between those little voices in your head. One telling you, “It’s ok, go on, eat that cake, you deserve it. Anyway, we can start the diet again on Monday” The other shouting out “No! You have worked so hard. That one hour in the gym will be wasted!”. A short banter takes place and the decision is made. To avoid appearing rude, (or any other excuse to support devouring the delectable treat), if you’re like me, you will justify the calories and probably tell yourself you will go for a run later. Ha!
After all, food is just food right? For thousands of years food has been purely used as a tool of survival. Only in the past couple of thousand years has food become something of a luxury. For millions of people starving in third world countries, a bowl of boiled rice is considered a luxury. So for something that is designed to purely keep us alive and knowing that our body’s run actually far better on healthy unprocessed foods, why is it that we yearn for all the bad foods? All the fatty, sweet, high calorie foods that taste so damn good?
Food makers have caught on to the fact that the human pallet enjoys rich flavors that is normally found in a select few natural foods. With the aid of artificial flavors, sweeteners, fats and enhancers, they have been able to use various techniques to replicate these flavors and make them cheaper and more accessible for our daily consumption. These products are now everywhere you look and with the aid of millions of dollars spent on advertising, have now been now been accepted in our daily diet and even considered as “Food”.
As we have gotten more and more used to the tastes of these more complex and unnatural flavors, natural foods now seem to have lost their appeal and taste bland in comparison. We no longer feel satisfied eating food that actually tastes like food.
Relearning the way unprocessed foods taste and getting our body’s used to running on natural unprocessed foods, is the first step to achieving optimal health.