Marketing magic and your beliefs about food

We all have some pretty rigid beliefs about the food we eat and what we consider a healthy diet. I know this because I have to constantly defend myself for refusing to eat processed carbohydrates in any form, starting with the obvious culprits, like cake, to foods with inexplicably powerful emotional bonds such as bread, rice and pasta.

I often come across many self appointed nutrition experts who feel the need to correct my seriously flawed thinking. Given that arguing with people with deeply set beliefs is futile, I make a few noises and quickly change the subject.


I started reading  up about on why we are so deeply set in the way we eat today, and how it got that way.  Honestly, we are like rats- we can survive on almost anything: from almost exclusively vegetarian diets,  to diets ultra-high in animal fats, and almost everything in between.

That being said, I present to you some things that really, really should have no place in your kitchen:

Breakfast cereals should not be confused with food

You will find a box of the stuff in many cupboards. Sometimes untouched, but still there, radiating with fibre and iron and goodness. It’s a healthy breakfast. It’s the right thing to do. But is it, really?

Growing up, P&G cornflakes made a welcome change from the monotony of bread and tea every morning. In high school, we all inhaled large quantities of cereal with powdered milk, reminding us that yes, there is more to life than boiled beans and white porridge. That was the end of it for me though.

So, what’s the bid deal about cereal?  Who said we all have to have cereal in the morning? (And why only in the morning?) Is it even worth your money, buying cereal?

Not really.

Basically, cereal starts with a whole grain- like corn, or wheat. Then the germ and skin are removed, to increase shelf life, and then sugar, vitamins, minerals and other stuff are added back in to give it taste, flavour and magical properties.

Cereal was invented by one Mr John H Kellog in the 1800s. John may have been a bit of an uptight fellow: a Seventh day adventist, teetotaller, vegetarian, and for some reason, a man with a very strong interest in constipation and masturbation. He fed tasteless bits of corn flakes to the patients that he had in his health asylum, in between their water and yoghurt enema healing sessions.

His brother, Keith, was less interested in bodily functions, and more concerned about getting rich. He added sugar these flakes, and after fighting with big bro for a while, (who did not want to sell cornflakes to the public) dedicated himself to seriously advertising these Kellog’s cornflakes.

Soon they hopped over into the UK, pouring millions to convince women that modern women and their families have cereal for breakfast, and in the process, killed the traditional (and delicious) cooked breakfast.

Even though I never had Coco Pops until I was about ten, I knew (and still know) their jingles thanks to Cartoon Network. And I bet you do too.

It doesn’t matter if you are eating fluorescent coloured sugar balls or some healthy sounding stuff with bran and extra fibre and iron and everything that will give you eternal life. It’s all nutritionally worthless. This video explains more.

Fat does not make you fat (most of the time)

Fat is delicious. Our bodies crave it because we need it for hormone production, cell development and nice, photoshopped looking skin.

My very unscientific observations have led me to believe that very few cultures in the world traditionally live ‘low fat’.  In fact, several cultures seemed to do just fine on diets made up almost exclusively of animal fat and meat. (Maasai, anyone?)

I was terrified the first time my Nigerian ‘friend’ cooked for me. I mean, it was literally a few pieces of meat floating in a soup made of oil, with more oil for good measure. (The fact that it is a scary orange colour did nothing to appease my fears) Italian cuisine is basically a thinly veiled excuse to drink olive oil, and well, let’s not talk about India and their relationship with ghee here, which is one of the most delicious things you can find on God’s green earth.

Of course, it did not take long before profits came in the way of nutrition. Enter hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats: because they have been seriously altered from their natural state, they are rancid, unstable and  loaded with free radicals to kick your system out of whack and expand your waistline (which is what I strongly suspect is going on in countries that soak everything in oil and are now growing fat).

This includes margarine, which was invented in a laboratory in France. It was a weird colour and everyone was suspicious of it. Then it was dyed yellow, and heavily marketed to convince people that it’s healthy and better than butter. It’s not.

Low Fat Diet

So, rule of thumb, if it cannot be made without industrial machinery and extreme heating, it should not be ingested.Seriously, ghee, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, even blocks of animal fat are better than grain based versions.

Low fat anything is a crime against nature

I hate low-fat products. I’m suspicious of them because this whole ‘low-fat’ idea sounds unnatural to me. According to the food chart rammed down our throats since our home science days, fats should only make a small portion of your diet. And if you want to lose weight, ditch the fats.

All well and good. Except that it’s very difficult to live without fat. Yoghurt, ice-cream, cheese, and even just getting your vegetables not to stick to the pan and burn is impossible. Plus crunchy, delicious chicken skin. And a nice, grilled piece of red meat sizzling and dripping in fat.

Enter low-fat creations that solve the problem: take out the fat. Add sugar and chemicals with unpronounceable names so that your body can get the same hit from the food as before. Ignore the small fact that sugar is processed in the liver, like alcohol and other toxins that your body clears out. Never mind that it is addictive and completely ruins your natural appetite control.Release to the general population that is under the impression that they can eat low fat to lose weight.

One thing though, that combination of fat, sugar and comforting carbohydrates hits the brain’s sweet spot, and will definitely cause a nice little spread around the middle. But for better health, less carbs, less food products and more fat!

Learn more about sugar’s all powerful, all evilness here.