This post is #2 in a 3-part series called It’s not your fault (you’re addicted to sugar). In Part 1, we covered the biological reasons why you crave sugar/carbs. In this post, we’re going to dive into the cultural reasons why you have ended up with a sugar/carb addiction.
The Culture of Convenience
In the 74 years since the end of WWII, life in America has gotten busier and busier. Women have entered the workforce, making time more of a commodity: there is less time for making meals, family time, and pursuing hobbies and interests. With time at a premium, people look for — and value — the things that give them back time. This shift towards valuing convenience is detrimental on a couple of different levels, including:
- Physical convenience
- Mental convenience
The physical convenience of “fast food” or “take-out” food is pretty obvious: we get it fast. When we choose food that is boxed, pre-prepared or for take-out, we save time, and get to feed ourselves and our families quickly. This is important when time is at a premium. The problem is that “fast” foods are generally less nutritious, and riddled with carbohydrates and hidden sugars which set-you-up for addiction.
The mental convenience of fast food is more subtle, and has permeated into many different aspects of our culture. With convenience foods, we get to jump to the outcome or product rather than focus on the process. We don’t have to plan, shop, prepare what we’re going to eat, we just get to buy it. It’s a big shortcut. We have come to value shortcuts. We have come to value easy. This part of why there is so much energy behind the tech revolution: it makes life easier. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be if we don’t recognize the processes that it is condensing or removing. In the case of food preparation, convenience usually means less nutritious, and often harmful for our health.
The Culture of Convenience is fueled by a ubiquitous presence in the media. In fact, quick-service food restaurants and packaged foods are consistently one of the biggest advertising spenders. We have come to believe that these types of foods are viable options for feeding ourselves — in fact, normal. Through advertising, convenience foods have become normalized.
And frankly, there wouldn’t be anything “wrong” with this — the change has seemingly been market-driven — except that it’s killing us! Literally. Chronic diseases originating from lack of nutritious food and exercise are the leading cause of death.
Marketers have created the demand for convenience foods, and we have taken the bait.
In next week’s post, the last in this series, will explore another reason why it’s not your fault you’re addicted to sugar/carbs: We just didn’t know vs. Suppressed information.