I really should stop watching BBC Breakfast, I’m sure it sets me up for indigestion for the rest of the day.
This morning they are interviewing Dr. David A. Kessler, author of a book entitled “The End Of Overeating. His contention (and he may well be right) is that processed foods filled with fat, sugar and salt stimulate reward centres in our brains and act as some sorts of drug.
Initially, he says, the food industry discovered that processing foods and adding these ingredients increased shelf lives and allowed them to ship foods further, cheaper and safer. This is, surely A Good Thing. Those eeeevil food companies also, however, discovered the compulsive, obsessive effects of their foods and (and I quote) “[put] those foods on every street corner and made them available 24/7.”
Oh dear! Now I can’t walk down the street without being compelled to eat a double cheeseburger with three Mars Bars for dessert. Or maybe three double cheeseburgers… You don’t have to chew so much you see, so your brain makes you want MOOOORE. It’s “Adult baby food.” Except I won’t.
You see, I have this amazing super-power called ‘Self Control.’ I might be ‘bombarded’ with images of processed foods all day long and maybe they do have some sort of effect on my brainwaves (I’m currently not believing in Wh00psian Exceptionalism) but I’m still not going to eat three double cheeseburgers because I know it isn’t good for me. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy processed foods (and occasionally I do eat three double cheeseburgers for lunch) but I don’t eat them all the time. There’s no point in blaming advertising and availability for fat people gorging themselves on unhealthy foods, the fault lies in the fat people themselves, a fact that seems to have escaped the good doctor, who “has an empathy for people who can’t control their eating habits” since he did “all his research.”
Take it back to the drug-like effects. In the same way I might fancy a gram of whizz this morning and then a few fat doobies tonight to wind down again. I used to do it all the time, so my brain’s been affected. I don’t any more though, because I have Self Control. See how it works? If the brain is clever enough to control its urges with proper drugs (and there’s plenty of people who’ve even gotten themselves of the really hard drugs who can attest to that) then I’m sure it can manage to eat less cheeseburgers. We used to catch mammoths for tea and avoid sabre-tooths having us for tea, for Christ’s sake.
To be fair to the doctor, he wasn’t suggesting we ban anything, and the nub of his gist seemed to be that people need to change their eating habits. I still don’t agree. If you want to gorge yourself on litres and litres of Ice-Cream, it’s no business of mine. If you can’t control your urges then that’s your problem. Buy his book if you like.
Just don’t expect me to pay for it. I’ve already paid for the 20-minute advert this morning.