According to findings made by market research company IRI published in trading magazine The Grocer, Britain’s top-selling branded supermarket products are Smirnoff vodka, Walkers crisps and Coke. It would be great if after learning this shock and horror ensued, but I very much doubt they will.
On reading about our nation’s poor food choices last year, personally, I wasn’t so much shocked as I was resigned. Resigned to the notion that our green and pleasant land doesn’t like anything green on their plates: that is, if we use plates at all- crisps are of course scoffed out of the bag (or tube). Walkers and Pringles are our favourite snacks of choice with £179m and £165m spent on each respectively in a year. Is it habit that makes us reach for the same brand each time, or is it something more sinister? A combination of ingredients that cause a chemical reaction in our brains making us think we need more and more of the same? As I mentioned in my Hermit the Carb post, I found that the more carbohydrate-filled, colourless food I ate, the more I craved. It therefore came as no surprise to learn that Kingsmill’s white bread featured next on Britain’s favourite branded food. Stripped of all nutrients with flour bleached to give us that lovely luminous loaf, white bread gives us an instant, short-lived and yet very much loved carbohydrate fix…until the inevitable sugar low leaves us wanting more.
As well as preferring beige food, we also favour that famous colourless liquid (no, not water), spending around £191m on Smirnoff vodka every year. In a statistic published by the BBC, 40 million of us “use” alcohol each year causing approximately 40,000 deaths. I don’t know about you, but I feel I lose around 40,000 taste buds any time I drink vodka, Smirnoff or otherwise, and tend to lose approximately 100% of my dignity, but that’s another story. Of course, these statistics aren’t going to put us off having a drink at the end of a hard day/ week, but surely the hangovers will? With symptoms ranging from headaches to migraines and nausea to vomiting, I believe it’s our physical rather than emotional experiences that are most likely to cause us to change our behaviours. With this in mind, I very much doubt that the corresponding emotional low we experience when our sugar levels have dropped after drinking a can of Coke will be the thing that stops us gulping it down, so much as the headaches, eroding teeth or diabetes will.
As well as colour, I honestly think the main thing lacking from our diets is an understanding of the emotional effects our food choices have. Perhaps the diets started in January would last longer if the focus shifted from being thin to being happy, because, “shock horror”, they are not one and the same. And yet, in a society so focussed on appearances and the aesthetic, is it any wonder the psychological effects of poor food choices and obesity get overlooked? The simple answer is, “no”. The simple question is, “Why?” I don’t have anything close to an answer, but I am making it my mission to find out.