Processed Food (4):  SOS ...  Salt - Oil - Sugar

Processed Food (4): SOS ... Salt - Oil - Sugar

SOS - Salt, Oil, Sugar

Food manufacturers load processed foods with salt, oil (fat), and sugar. The books on processed food call it SOS for short. Those three are the main culprits. All of them are addictive and all of them have their own list of health hazards. Put all three into the same food and is it any wonder that we have a raging obesity epidemic with a host of chronic diseases taking away our breath, energy, and our happiness?  

There is so much information and research on each of these; therefore I'm intending to do a blog post for each. Today's post is to give you an overview of the salt-oil-sugar problem, so you can begin to understand where we are now and what we can do about it..

First, here is a quote from Michael Moss, author of Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. "I was totally surprised," he said. "I spent time with the top scientists at the largest companies in this country and it's amazing how much math and science and regression analysis and energy they put into finding the very perfect amount of salt, sugar, and fat in their products that will send us over the moon, and will send their products flying off the shelves and have us buy more, eat more and …make more money for them." 

Addicted to SOS

 I didn't intend to talk about food addiction at this point, but it appears we can't thoroughly discuss salt, oil, and sugar without addressing their addictive qualities. You see, the sugar in beverages keeps you drinking them in supersize proportions. The salt and oil in corn chips keep you reaching for them time and again. It is a major problem. Many of us don't reach for real food anymore.

Your brain reacts to these substances in the same way it reacts to hard drugs. When you are without your favorite processed food -- say chips with that perfect texture and amount of salt or a soda loaded with multiple teaspoons of sugar -- you may feel not only the urge to consume them; but without that fix, you may feel ill, shaky, and beyond uncomfortable. These feelings will lead you to eat or drink more and more until you feel better. And once you eat enough, you'll feel that ahhhhhhh feeling that you're finally okay ...  until next time. Sound familiar?

How did this happen?

Remember the old chip slogan, "Betcha can't eat just one?" It's true, isn't it? Well, in the case of chips, it's the salt and oil that make those chips irresistible. We all know it and most of us experience it more often than we want to admit.

Food manufacturers learned this many years ago. And, they strategically began adding salt, oil, and sugar to their products until they figured out our bliss point for each delectable item.  And, slowly, over time, we began reaching for more and more of their products.

It's not just food in the grocery store that is making us fat and sick. Restaurants  use processed food also. They buy food packaged and ready to heat for your three-course dinner. Or they add the same excess of salt, oil, and sugar themselves. And, of course, you know the value of fast food, right?  

Why are food scientists and food manufacturers doing this to us?

I'm not a fan of greed, but I am hoping they started playing with our food to make it yummier because they were striving for increased sales. After all, it would be pretty dismal to think that these companies have applied their magic SOS formulas to this food processing to make us fat and sick. That would be just mean, right?

Whether intentional or not, it's up to us to change what we eat, and it's important to not be sissies about it. I mean, I have wallowed in my share of self-pity because I can't eat off the potato chip aisle, but it looks as if the store shelves are and will be filled with these products for as long as these companies continue to make money. So, it's time to take a look at what we can do for ourselves.


The easiest answer would be for us to stop buying the stuff, so the food manufacturers would realize we are serious about our health. They'd stop making money and would be motivated to change the ingredients of their products.  

That reason may be in the making as people become more and more aware of the health effects of what they eat. But for many of us, it won't happen fast enough.

Some people have adopted a whole-food, plant-based diet with no added salt, oil, and sugar. It is a healthy diet, but to adhere to it, you must give up all processed food. This might be a step too far for some of you.  But, while we wait for the food industry to correct the nutrition content of their products, we can make ourselves aware of the many facets of processed food and do what we can.

If you're looking to eat a healthier diet, you may or may not want to go on a completely vegan or vegetarian diet. And you may or may not want to give up processed food. Regardless, I would urge you to ease up on salt, oil, and sugar. Just that will make a world of difference. Please join me on the next three Wednesdays as we look at Salt, Fat, and Sugar individually.  Hopefully, we'll come up with some answers.


be kind - be the change

be the healthiest version of yourself


Oh Yum: Cocoa Berry Toast

Oh Yum: Cocoa Berry Toast

Review: Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen App

Review: Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen App