How to harness yourself against ‘plant-based’ Junk food
Isn’t it hard…?
You know there is a piece of chocolate in your cupboard and you know you should not have it. Or that bag of chips you bought… you know you should not have it and probably should not have bought it in the first place. Then that little voice in your mind tells you… you worked really hard today so yes, have it, ‘you deserve it’! You deserve the chips, the vegan ice-cream and the pana organic chocolate you bought, you deserve it all!
Did you know that the average Australian consumes 826 calories from ultra-processed foods per day!
Why don’t we eat healthy plant-based food?
Eating healthily, we all know that we should eat more fruit and more vegetables, whole grain products and definitely no high processed foods like chips, chocolate, lollies cakes etc. But most of us eventually lose the battle and we gobble up that whole packet of chips in one go. There are so many fantastic plant-based options out there nowadays, that makes it even harder to resist. Plant-based diet or not, this blog resonates to omnivores too.
Our rational brain knows we should not eat the plant-based junk-food and that it does not bring us any good. We know we will feel worse after, your body is a temple… right? Why fill it with rubbish?
You might have heard this story before, about our ancestors and why we have a weak spot for sweet and fat food. They lived in caves and did not have any fridges to store their food. They hunted for food and ate berries and everything they could find not knowing if there would be any food available the next couple of days/weeks. So, the body developed a great way to deal with this! It made you want to eat sugars and fatty food since those have the most energy stored in them. Your body even found a way of storing this energy. You guessed it… FAT. Now you were able to access this energy at a later moment in time. Isn’t that amazing! What a great survival mechanism and a big shout out to your body.
However, this mechanism has not caught up with the evolution of humans. So, when you are sitting on the couch watching Netflix and know there is sitting a piece of plant-based chocolate in the cupboard it will be very hard to resist! Your body is craving it, your caveman/cavewoman instinct is saying you need it! And yes, there you go, of to the cupboard to grab that piece of plant-based chocolate and the bag of chips since you are there anyway.
Plant-based/vegan food Marketing
Food marketers have this knowledge too, and have been very smart to use this to their advantage. They align with health associations and government bodies, including those that create our national dietary guidelines. Smartly designed studies comparing products against the wrong alternatives, I mean of course milk is going to look better if you compare it against coca cola. If you would compare it against a cup of green tea you would have very different outcomes.
Coca Cola gifted a Queensland research team $100,000 to research the benefits of exercise in treating obesity. This takes the focus off their sugary drink and passes on the blame to people for not exercising. These are just some examples of how we are getting misled by the food industry. They even place misleading texts on the package to make you feel better about eating their product. Did you know that when the Health Star Rating was developed, the manufacturers of ultra-processed foods in the food industry worked together with the Australian Government to develop this system? They lobbied against certain features in the Health Star Rating that would affect their profits.
The combination of the perfect flavour, a bit salty, sugary, spice and acidity work as a drug. It is very hard for you brain to resist. Some researches claim sugar is more addictive than cocaine!
How can I eat healthily?
Planning: Plan your meals for the week, go shopping once or twice a week and make sure you get all the ingredients for your meal plans. Prepare your lunches, make sure you have all the ingredients at your home for a healthy breakfast. You are much less likely to order uber eats, get a quick vegan roll from the bakery or eat the chocolate lollies your colleague brought to the office. Because you know you have already got your healthy meals sorted.
Eat before shopping: Try eating a meal before you go shopping! Research has shown that you are much more likely to buy unhealthy fat and sugary food when you are hungry.
Stress: Often there is an emotional component behind your cravings. When you are stressed, it is more likely that you will eat that packet of chips or grab a handful of chocolates. Try to redirect yourself into a different direction when you feel stressed such as going for a walk, meditating or writing in your journal.
Focus on the positive: Research has shown that it helps to focus on the positive. In other words, don’t focus on the negative and things like the food you cannot eat! Instead focus on healthy options and what you can and should eat. This tactic also works well if you want to make a move from an omnivore to a plant-based diet.
Knowledge: Knowledge is power, the more you understand about your food the easier it is to keep on the right path. There are plenty of ways to get quality information about food. Podcast shows, blogs, books etc. Three of my personal tips: Fibre Fueled – Will Bulsiewicz and How Not To Die – Dr Michael Greger or if you prefer a podcast: Plant Proof Podcast from Simon Hill.
I hope this blog has helped you to move in right direction or motivated you to look at your own food intake and make the steps towards a healthier diet with less processed food.