Is the Food Industry Hacking Your Brain (Part 2)?

By Brad Matushewski

April 4, 2018


Posted In: Education, Fitness, Food & Drink, Langley, London, Nutrition, Saskatoon, Surrey, What's Up Canada, White Rock

It is no surprise that the food industry wants to sell us MORE food; the more we eat, the bigger their profits (and the bigger we get). There is nothing wrong with enjoying a little treat every now and then but buyer beware, the food industry is working very hard to get you to eat more. Here are 5 things that the food industry does to fool your brain into eating more.

1) Make you eat faster: It is simple – the faster you eat the more you eat. Less healthy choices often take less time to eat or less chews required per mouthful. In addition, the products are designed to have an intense taste initially, but it also has to fade away quickly after each mouthful so as to leave you wanting more.

2) Food as entertainment: Food and eating is a highly social activity and now becoming more and more entertaining (i.e. Man vs food). Any sort of challenge of eating a certain amount in an hour and its free with your picture going up on the wall of “fame” is a prime example. Less obvious examples include toys being paired with food for kids, or even just look at any food commercial that is targeted to kids. Commercials always show brightly colored food or casually suggest that a particular food item is a reward for you (You deserve a break…sound familiar)?

3) Halo effect: This is when you overly SOME sort of perceived healthy component over an otherwise unhealthy product. Example, “organic cookies”. How about a gluten free donut? Foods like these are clearly a less than ideal choice but the word “organic” makes us think we are eating something healthy.

4) Supersizing: It is easy to get lured into upsizing your food for “…just a dollar more”. But do we really need it? We are all conscientious about our money and it is hard to turn away a “deal”. We also don’t want to waste food so we are tempted to eat ALL of what we get. However, would you prefer the food to go to waste or to your waist?

5) Variety: The more variety there is, the more we tend to eat. Just around at any buffet. We always “want to get our money’s worth”, but like I mentioned in the previous point, “…waste or waist?”. Other situations like an ice cream or yogurt bar (Note, yogurt = halo effect for it being perceived to be healthy), but not when we load it up with 20 different sugary toppings. With so much more variety, it is difficult to draw the line if you try to take, “…just a little bit of each”.

With the food industry working hard against us, what can we do? Creating an awareness of the forces at play attempting to influence our food choices is the first step. Stay tuned for more to come with this small series on how we can create a balanced and optimized approach to nutrition.