To Win Your Battle with The Food Industrial Complex

— Know your enemy, yourself.

This piece is the fifth of a number of stand-alone DESTINY postings on how to rise above and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic by shaping up to be healthy, fit, tough and wise. It is based on the author’s multi-decade insights as a cardiologist and the founder in a non-profit lifestyle coaching program completed by thousands of patients and coworkers. All the advice comes from participants’ real-life experiences, state-of-the-art science and diverse time-honored wisdom.

Big business is entitled to make big money if they just serve our needs and not sway our wants. Otherwise, they deserve to go down like the tobacco industry has.

Consider these statistics in the U.S for the past 50 years:

  • Food industry’s calorie production per person — up 20–30%
  • Average calorie intake per person — up 20–30%
  • Average weight per person — up 20–30%

Pure chance or fat chance? You decide. We can’t just blame the Food Industrial Complex, though. In a free economy, we demand, they supply.

Big money has done big research to spit out these big findings on how to suck us into buying big and eating even bigger.

They’re studied our body hormones and brain chemistry, and discovered that we are predictably exploitable:

  1. Just the right mix of sweet and salty taste is a one-two punch to break down our defense. Add enough fat to that, and the food industry has perfected a combination choke-hold from which few consumers can escape.
  2. A quick “sugar high” is so energizing and satisfying that it’s neurologically addictive. Especially when you’re already hungry.
  3. Hormonally, it then quickly ushers in a deep “sugar plunge” that makes us feel even hungrier than before.
  4. Hunger is a primal survival instinct that’s already hard to fight. An added blood sugar dive zaps our strength, demolishing our last fighting chance.
  5. So we feel the urge to eat more, more desperately, and more of the same. And the spiraling cycle screws us deeper on each turn.
  6. Because it’s just a fake feeling and our body doesn’t really need all that extra energy, the excess sugar is stored away, mostly as gut fat, which medically speaking is in a kind of subversive deep state. Let me explain below.
  7. Unlike fat elsewhere in the body, fat in our belly busily builds bad biochemicals to battle our Insulin’s function to lower abnormally high sugar levels. So the body deploys more Insulin. When over-worked, Insulin tends to convert excess sugar into fat for more permanent storage.
  8. This vicious circle keeps corkscrewing down until our Insulin gets totally depleted, way ahead of its time. The result is Diabetes Type II, at any age, with all its nastiness. (BTW, 40% COVID deaths in the U.S. have Diabetes.)
  9. So now we have to buy more costly diet foods to counteract this disease condition.

And that’s not all. The food industry goes above and beyond on advertising, product placement, and so on, and massively.

They supersize it, then you.

The Food Industrial Complex gets us coming and going, staying put or sliding down.

Because we let them. We pretty much ask them to.

If our demand has been cleverly manipulated either without or against our will, we have to out-maneuver them with the battle plans below. Our past war record is good: we have cut cigarette smoking by 50% in the past 50 years.

At the cash register we register our demands to the food industry in a language they register loud and clear. So, they supply.

When we change our demands for what we want and need, they will change their supplies to meet them.

So let’s do it. We get healthy and well, and they get wealthy as hell. Everybody wins. Nobody gets hurt.

HEALTH MATTERS

  • Unlike Type I Diabetes, which begins in childhood due to genetics, Type II Diabetes is sugar-induced and self-inflicted later on in life.
  • Type II often comes with a big fat bonus — a big fat belly. How big? Medically, it’s over 40 inches (100 cm) for men and over 35 inches (90 cm) for women.

    Or, if you stand up and look down but can’t see your big toes, you’re in shape for it, if not now, soon.

Both types of Diabetes eventually result in cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, limb amputations, just to name a few unpleasantries.

Unlike set-genetic T1 Diabetes, self-generated T2 is reversible. If you lose at least 5% of your excess weight, Type II Diabetes will recede or even go away.

  • Even without losing much weight, exercise gives a good gut punch to belly fat’s anti-Insulin actions, as well as many of its other anti-health actions.

Never let in Dia-betes.
Never let our Diet beat us.
— Metacardio

  • A sweet tooth can be given up to the tooth fairy without pain, mentally (not dentally) speaking. Physiologically, this is how our taste buds work:

    Suck on a dab of sweet honey. Then, immediately take a bite of your favorite chocolate. It won’t taste as sweet.

    Now sip some fresh lemon juice. Again, immediately bite into your chocolate. It will taste too sweet for your taste.

    You can gradually tone down your sweet taste, the same way you’ve been gradually watering down your sugary drinks after reading my first blog a month ago. Over time, your former favorites will taste far too sweet to stay in your favor.

Doctors consider sugar the tobacco of the 21st century.

Studies have found that ‘legal’ sugar can be even more addictive than that illegal white powder in the street.

NUTRITION

The sugar-up-to-Insulin-down “nuclear” chain reaction above can be broken by throwing in some fibers and lean proteins.

  • They give you more to chew on, thus satisfying your “mouth feel” (food monger lingo).
  • They slow down food absorption, thus blunting the sugar spike.
  • They provide sustained-release energy thus eliminating the rebound hunger strike.
  • Not to mention a better “gut feel” later on in the bathroom, a better looking gut and a better health in the long run.

There are many healthy tribes who have thrived on their “nutty” Mediterranean diet for generations.

Examples of simple (sinful) sugars/carbs include most sweet snacks, carbs such as fries, white starches and bread, and, of course, sweet drinks. Your “anti-nuclear” saboteurs include a variety of nuts, beans, peas, yogurts, cheeses, lean meats, etc.

The nutritionist in the videos at the end will give you many more tips than these three:

  • Over-processed food, all gooped up, pounded down, even embalmed away, is like pre-digested food.
    Yup, it’s ‘Yuck!’
  • If you like the taste of orange, for example, eat the natural orange, don’t just drink the processed juice.
  • If you like potatoes, eat the skins too. Either sub or mix with sweet potatoes or yam. Just don’t eat them processed, like mashed, fried or chipped.

It’s that simple.

ACTIVITY

  1. Go food shopping when you’re full, not hungry. Pre-plan your route for the market aisles. It’s like mapping your path before venturing into Disney’s Adventureland.
  2. Fill up most of your shopping cart with bulky household items first. Buy food last.
  3. Those “economy size” food items you’ve bought in super-size bulk — re-package them into small serving sizes, like in little zipper bags.

    Put as much away in storage as convenient. You are actually putting away more cash, calories and COVID reserves.

“The enemy never tires of trickeries.”
“Know yourself and know your enemy,
and 100 battles will bring 100 victories.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

FOCUS

If you are your own worst enemy, then that narrows things down, doesn’t it? It also takes away the guessing game, and the blame game. You just have to face yourself in battle.

Health is a printout of your inner wellness.
Attaining outer beauty is an inside job.
— Metacardio

TAKEAWAYS

While you are sizing up the enemies in your food fight before next week’s posting, watch a free preview of this video by a friendly Registered Dietitian. Enjoy, all at once or one day at a time (2–3 minutes each).

Expert Info Video (Food Shop Talk)

Periodically, we feature on Metacardio©, our lifestyle coaching mobile app in development, animated videos to illustrate various practical topics on health and wellness that written words may not explain as well.

(1) Food Labels

(2) Food Groups

(3) Protean Proteins

(4) Process Excess

(5) Shopping Strategies

(6) Banking on Food

(7) Some Summary

Doc Tak

September 16, 2020

WRITTEN BY

Tak C. Poon, MD, PharmD, ABHIM, FACC
Board-certified American Preventive Cardiologist now developer of a wellness blog and a lifestyle habit-forming app. www.metacardio.org

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Readers’ Out-of-Sight Insights: I would love to post any valuable ideas or teachable moments you might want to share in this Destiny series.

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TAK POON

TAK POON

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TAK POON, MD, PharmD, ABIHM, FACC, U.S. Preventive Cardiologist, now developer of a nonprofit wellness blog and a lifestyle habit-forming app at metacardio.org