Red Light Foods

We all have them. Those snacks that haunt us. When we see them and smell them we’ve got to have one. And when we break down and have one, it turns into more than intended, often resulting in an empty bag, a stomach ache and some degree of shame. If you know this experience you are one step closer to identifying your RED LIGHT FOODS.

A red light food is also known as a trigger. When we eat them with the plan to “stay in control this time,” we rarely do. Something takes over us and we can’t seem to stop. Maybe it’s the salty or sweet flavor that we’re addicted to. Maybe it’s the nostalgic feeling they give comforting us and making us feel secure if only for a moment. It’s likely all of that and this…it’s probably highly processed and by design targets our tendency to over consume.

Why do we over consume? Here’s the major reason why. Manufacturers have figured out the secret recipe that takes advantage of today’s convenience mindset and combines it with science to get us to buy, buy and buy when it comes to salty, sweet, highly processed foods. A long, long time ago, humans had to search for their food either gathering berries and edible plants or hunting for live animals that would nourish them. Different seasons provided different types of nourishment and often in the spring and summer, plants would flower and present fruits. Humans were trained to consume all of the sweet fruits that they could in order to store energy (bodyfat) for tougher times to come in the fall and winter. Obesity and overeating probably were not concerns due to lack of resources. Today, sweet and calorie dense foods are readily available year round and they take very little effort to get our hands on.

What does this mean for us? Well we’re still wired to consume out of fear of lack of nourishment. So when we see those calorie dense, sugar, and salt enhanced snacks on the shelves we “have to have them.” However, they aren’t scarce and when they’re available year round, we eat them year round. There is no famine period where we go without and use our stored up energy to survive. We just keep on storing, resulting in weight gain and health issues. What makes this worse? The highly processed nature of these foods makes them substantially worse for you than “crushing all of the fruit you want” like humans of the past may have. Highly processed foods are broken down and reconstituted into items that are easy for our body to digest quickly and turn into energy immediately. Think flours, sugars, and oils/fats. Our body is designed to digest foods, breaking them down internally and sending the nutrients to the appropriate areas of the body for use. When we ingest highly processed foods, since they’re broken down already, they are often used for energy more quickly resulting in quick spikes of blood sugar and even quicker drops leaving us feeling depleted and sick. Even worse, the processed nature of the foods almost guarantees that most of the nutritional value of the food, vitamins and minerals, is removed leaving us with the byproducts. They taste good but don’t serve the purpose of providing energy for a dynamically healthy life.

Highly processed foods, that we now can call Red Light Foods, are designed to take advantage of our instinctual behavior. They separate us from our money without providing what we need. We find them all over because they’re conveniently placed on store shelves at eye level calling our name. They are sold in bulk so that we can always have them on hand at home without running out. Even if we stay strong for ourselves, they are heavily marketed to our kids. And if we “just buy them for the kids” we often eat those too.

If you know you know. Here are a few thoughts. Your dollars are your votes. You can vote for healthy food or continue to support the major food conglomerates who exist only to profit from this unhealthy scheme. Don’t buy too many unhealthy, processed snacks for your children, especially if those snacks are trigger foods for you. Your kids want to be healthy, they just don’t know it yet and it’s our job to protect them. Whatever you mold in them at a young age will stick with them for a long time and when older they’ll likely struggle with many of the same issues that you do currently. Set them up for success. Not saying to deprive them of sweets but definitely monitor intake and supply healthier go tos leaving the sweet processed stuff “occasional.” Take responsibility for yourself, take the one minute action before a purchase. Ask yourself, “What is this going to do for me and my goals.” Then decide whether it goes in the cart or back on the shelf. Any treat that you crave, if it’s really worth it, will be worth the drive to the convenience store for a small, single use portion. Don’t keep red light foods on hand at home. What you keep at your house is what you will eat. FACT: Keep healthy food around, you’ll eat healthy food. Keep junk, you’ll eat junk. We make a lot of excuses for ourselves. Stop and think, take one step at a time, and be mindful of what you buy and why you buy it.

Stay strong,

Coach Derrick

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