Sunday, October 30, 2011

Corporate Health: Why Junk Food is So Addictive by Anders N W Lindgreen

It is safe to say that a lot of people like junk food, some more than others and some not at all, but many like it. Perhaps it’s the convenience, the taste, the price or our emotional state that makes us go for it, or is there actually something in the food itself? If your team or colleagues are running stressed at work, convenience options won’t be far away. And having people make these choices on a regular basis can be quite damaging to the corporate health score in your business.

Can junk food become an addiction, and what is it that makes it addictive – I mean, it’s not a cigarette, right? Well, for some people it seems just as bad and there is actually both a natural and an un-natural explanation to why that is. Hear me out.

A Winning Combination

Back in the caveman days fruit and vegetables were seasonal, meat was hunted (not farmed) and the only cooking done was over an open fire (if any). This made our diets limited in carbohydrates, fats (because wild animals tend to be leaner) and salt. So whenever our bodies ran into any of these three, our taste buds went bananas to make sure that we had as much as possible, as we never knew when to get it next. Also, our brain only runs on blood sugar, which is made primarily from the carbohydrates that we consume. And sugar (a simple carbohydrate) converts even faster than slower alternatives and so our brain is extremely keen to get some. Now think about fast food; it’s high in salt, fat and carbohydrates and often washed down with a drink of sweet sugary goodness. Our bodies love it! The only difference is, we can get it whenever we want it nowadays, but our bodies haven’t caught up to that fact yet, so we still crave it like there’s no tomorrow.

MSG Keeps Us Coming Back For More

MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate, is a flavour enhancer common in processed foods and especially Asian foods. It is the food industries own anti-appetite suppressant. It achieves this by stimulating our pancreas to release insulin into our system, just like carbohydrates do, raising our blood sugar levels quickly only to drop not long after. This quick drop is what makes us feel hungry again.

What Does It Mean

It means that our bodies prefer junk food for many reasons. The more you eat, the more you are likely to want to eat and the harder it will be to cut down. Because not only have you got the winning combination of nutrients and minerals, plus the MSG, you will now also have the habit of eating a lot of junk food. Those three bad boys combined may be difficult to break apart, but it is far from impossible. I would suggest just going cold turkey if you have the will power for it, otherwise, cut down and replace the junk with an equally tasty but less processed and healthier alternative.