Spoiler alert: Some of your most cherished food and/or drink cravings may be forever tainted after you read this. Sorry to be that guy, but unfortunately I am that guy – so no, I’m not actually sorry to say this because it’s the truth: Some of our favourite things to eat and drink are actually quite gross if you think about it.
I know, I know – chill out, Mike. Right? Why ya gotta be such a Daniel Downer? In my defence, I’m not advocating for a complete boycott of these things – what I’m more concerned about is drawing your attention to the cognitive dissonance required to be able to enjoy eating this junk.
Because I’m fascinated by how the mind works, and what interests me about these so-called foods is how we’re able to fall in love with them in spite of their disgusting-ness. What up with that?
I think it happens for many reasons, but here’s a few of the main ones:
- We develop emotional connections to food, like nostalgia. Maybe it’s something we ate growing up, or worse, the marketing of the food item capitalizes on that nostalgia.
- The food tastes so good it blows our mind. How can something that tastes this good be wrong? (If it is, I don’t wanna be right.)
- We are limited by our imagination and ability to explore different choices and options and work-arounds – because the food industry doesn’t want you to know that their processed product is replaceable with something whole. (Their paycheques depend on it.)
- That false science about how saturated fat and dietary cholesterol were killers really fucked up the food industry. To keep making profits, the food industry had to cut out evil fat and replace it with fake shit so that we still enjoyed eating it. Read more about this here.
So which beloved food and drink items am I going to attack today? I’ll spare you the obvious ones, like candy, fast food, frozen dinners, etc. and focus on ones with a gross factor that many of us commonly overlook.
8 Things We Love to Eat That Are Actually Quite Gross
I really wanted to like Nutella, but I couldn’t because anytime I ate it I got an upset stomach and nasty acid reflux.
So I wondered why this wholesome goodness – as advertised – was making me feel nauseated, and then I actually read the label. There you have it: the main ingredient is sugar, and the 2nd main ingredient is modified palm oil. Even the final ingredient, “vanillin,” is not actually vanilla, but some kind of chemically produced substance. There are claims online that say vanillin is cleverly hiding a gross culprit, MSG, and other claims saying this is false; and also other claims saying MSG is bad for you, and others that don’t.
It’s a mystery, and I don’t like eating mysteries.
Get a load of this bullshit from their ingredients page:
“We choose only the freshest raw materials, carefully selected according to a sustainable sourcing and a great attention to their quality.”
Lies. Nutella is not a nutritious cocoa-hazelnut butter. It is glossy brown sugar spread. That’s what it is, and it’s gross.
2. Sweetened Yogurt, like Activia
Do they still have those Activia commericials that show someone’s stomach (with 0% body fat) happily dancing? I’m not sure as I don’t have TV anymore – but I remember seeing them, and they are complete lies. I don’t even understand how false advertising like that can be legal.
Sure the yogurt has healthy cultures to feed your “good” gut bacteria, but in one of those little snacky servings there are 19 grams of sugar. 19. That’s gross. (A can of Coke has 35g by comparison). Not to mention modified food starch, modified corn starch, and a bunch of other weird-ass ingredients.
Sweetened yogurt is a dessert – not something to make your stomach happy (or thin as the marketing suggests). Dairy can also contribute to bloating, even if you’re not officially lactose intolerant. Plus, some studies show that “bad” gut bacteria thrive on processed sugar and carbs – of which sweetened yogurt is chock-full of.
That’s just gross.
3. Cheez Whiz
What even is Cheez Whiz? Tell me where in nature a glossy orange malleable substance that “adds personality” exists?
The main ingredient on the list is “modified milk ingredients” – which means that the milk in the product has been chemically modified to the extent that it can no longer be called “milk .” If that’s not enough to gross you out, take note that the “cheese” in it contains “rennet,” the definition of which makes my stomach curdle:
Gross. Gross. Gross.
4. Barbecue sauce and ketchup
What’s gross about bbq sauce and ketchup is that they are effectively nothing more than sugar and salt. I will have them from time to time of course, but when I do I’m mindful that really what I’m doing to the plate of food in front of me is squirting liquid sugar and salt all over it.
The main ingredient of Diana Sauce, with its humble, nostalgic labelling, is sugar/glucose-fructose – which is high-fructose corn syrup, folks. Heinz or French’s ketchup isn’t much better, with “liquid sugar” as the second ingredient.
In Canada, “glucose-fructose” on a food label means high-fructose corn syrup.
When you think about it, squirting ketchup all over your scrambled eggs is effectively no different than mixing salty Skittles into them. Gross.
5. Store-bought salad dressing
One of the biggest food industry lies of all time is that salad dressing needs to be bought in the grocery store! Really, it’s so easy to make, and the store-bought shit never tastes fresh, plus has freaky-deaky ingredients, GMO inflammatory oils, and gums or starches added to make it creamy and consistent.
Why not make your own at home? Here’s how.
6. Shit from Starbucks
Except for the plain old coffee (which gives me the shakes anyway), all those specialty drinks and artisanal snacks they make at Starbucks are nothing more and nothing less than a processed dessert. When you order a pumpkin spice latte or a hazelnut frappuccino, what you are actually ordering is a warm milkshake – it’s not a coffee.
This is fine once in a while, of course – but again what I’m focused on here is the cognitive dissonance Starbucks’ marketing and branding capitalizes on, which I find gross.
Because there is absolutely nothing wholesome, cosy, or quality about anything that Starbucks makes. It’s all over-processed, and anywhere that a natural, whole food ingredient can be replaced by a cheaper chemical version, it will be – that’s just how food corporations work.
7. Pancakes, oatmeal, granola, muffins, scones, donuts, Danishes, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, hash browns, French toast, etc.
Honestly, you might as well just have a Snickers and a can of Coke first thing in the morning if these foods are part of your breakfast on a regular basis. One of the difficulties with breakfast when you’re trying to eat healthy is opening up your imagination to healthier options – because literally every food item (other than bacon and eggs) we associate with breakfast fare is, more or less, laden with sugar and made from highly processed carbohydrates.
This is a really gross way to start your day as it sets into motion a cascade effect of insulin spike, and crash; followed by you interpreting the crash as starvation and eating something else that gives you another insulin spike, then crash; and so on until the next day when you repeat it over again.
Try to get some green vegetables into your breakfast, somehow, anyhow. I even have salads for breakfast sometimes (if I have breakfast) or at least a smoothie made with spinach or kale. You can also have sautéed greens with your eggs as an option. Apples, pears and raw nuts are also good, in moderation.
I eat chips! Don’t get me wrong. But when I do I’m mindful of the fact that their flavouring has been designed by a team of scientists. It’s true: There is literally a team of scientists standing around making chips as addictively delicious as possible. Also, big industry chips (like Lays) have MSG in them (just read the food ingredients list).
When chips are in front of me I literally cannot stop eating them – and I always feel a bit gross with myself after (not for eating junk food, necessarily, more because of how I just succumbed to the chip like it was crack or something). I find the best defence against chips is to simply not buy them – just don’t have them in the house. I’ve even thrown them out when they’ve been left behind because no good will come of them!
There are some more expensive kinds of chips now that use coconut, olive or avocado oil (and no MSG) – which are fine in moderation. Though, honestly and truly, chips are just not really something your body needs.
And that’s half of why I’m hating on these foods so much: there are actually whole foods you can eat that taste just as good (and better) than this artificial crap. Part of what these so-called foods (and the corporate food industry) trick us into believing is that there are no healthy alternatives that can match the heaven-sent taste of junk food.
But there really are alternatives! They just take a bit longer to make, they aren’t as readily available, and they may cost a little bit more. But it’s worth it, because why eat gross junk food that makes your body go, “What the fuck did you just put into me?” when you can make healthier, whole options that taste just as good?