Supermarkets also work very closely with food manufacturers. Together they work hard to produce processed food that tastes amazing, stimulates a sense of pleasure, and tempts greed. Much of it is food that requires the minimum of effort to prepare, attractively packaged to make sure it finds its way into your shopping basket. They are past masters at creating clever concoctions of ingredients, many of those ingredients, particularly sugar, in concentrations that are addictive or habit forming. These processed foods are deliberately designed to hook you so that you buy more .and more. This is where the best interests of supermarkets and food manufacturers and your best interests part company – and where your trust is betrayed.
If you’re overweight or obese, the food industry conveniently shifts the blame onto you. You decide what you buy, it’s your fault. The reality is that their processed foods are the cause of your evolutionary mismatch, which is why you weigh more than you would like, why you might not be as healthy as you would like to be – why the world has a obesity problem.
Food manufacturers spend millions promoting their brands to build confidence and get you to trust their products. Supermarkets fill their shelves with those brands, and trustingly, you buy them. You are being deceived, and that deception is affecting your weight – and your health.
Is it fair to expect that an iconic 400 gram tin of Heinz tomato soup should contain 5 teaspoons of sugar, that two slices of bread includes 16% of your daily allowance of salt, that a 500 ml bottle of cola contains 14 teaspoons of sugar, that a 415 gram can of baked beans contains 40% of your daily allowance of salt and 5 teaspoons of sugar? No it is not!
A new attitude to shopping
Food companies and supermarkets are not going to change their ways and governments are not going to make them. They might amend them when pressure mounts, but they won’t do anything that will dent their sales or their profits. This is why it’s important for you to build up your knowledge about the food you buy. The only thing you should trust is your own – better informed – judgement.
Here are some simple rules about shopping:
1. Make a list before you go. If you rely on the supermarket shelves to prompt your inspiration you’ll buy things you don’t need and be tempted to buy the wrong things. Know what you’ve got in the store cupboard and in the fridge. Plan your meals.
2. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. If you do, your basket will be full of sugary snacks and very little fresh food. If you’re hungry, drink a glass of water before you go.
3. Buy fresh FIRST.
4. Beware of foods that carry health claims. Remember, ‘low fat’ can actually mean ‘high fat’ because sugar has been substituted for fat. Be highly suspicious of tins and cartons that claim to contain ‘One of your five a day’. You only get full advantage from one of your ‘five a day’ from fresh fruit and vegetables.
5. Avoid the aisles containing sugary drinks, fruit juices and smoothies. They are all on the ‘no buy’ list.
6. Become a food label expert. Know your Recommended Daily Allowances – RDAs (sometimes known as an RI or Reference Intake) and know where to look for sugar, salt, total fat, saturated fat and fibre on the food label. Memorise these important RDAs: