Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
July 17, 2009    

Food Porn

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Amy Culver

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Food Porn

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my clients, Anthony, and he used a term that I hadn't heard before:  "Food Porn."  He was telling me about conversations that take place at his Weight Watchers meetings.  He said that sometimes it's hard to talk about food without wandering into the food porn.  I was intrigued by this and asked him to explain it to me.  The example that he gave me was multi grain waffles.  That's a fine food to eat, but then someone mentions adding syrup and gets everyone thinking about syrupy, buttery waffles.

Yep.  I get it.  And I'll bet that lots of others do too.

As soon as I got home I looked up the term.  Wikipedia credits the Center for Science and Public Interest with coining the term in January 1998.  The term itself, though, has many uses.  For example:

It can be used to describe food presented in such as way as to make it virtually irresistible – the way they do in ads.  How many of us have seen a commercial or magazine ad for a particular food that created a sudden craving?

It can also describe the tendency, like Anthony mentioned, of taking a healthy food and making it unhealthy.  Think broccoli smothered in cheese sauce.

And then, of course, there is the flat out, blatant, sex in advertising.  Many ads are aimed directly at linking sex to food.

And sometimes the temptation is literally in your face.  At my gym, they allow companies to set up a table to sell their product or service.  A lot of times it's a chiropractor or a massage therapist.  But once, they actually had a catering service come in and they set up a Chocolate Fountain!  IN MY GYM!

Yep, the truth is, everywhere we turn, we are assaulted. 

Some of us are old enough to remember back when cigarettes and hard alcohol were advertised on television.  That was stopped some years ago in an attempt to discourage people, particularly youth, from using them.  It would be nice to think that the same thing would happen with food, but I doubt we'll see that in our lifetime.

Economy aside, we all seem to have plenty to eat.  The obesity epidemic continues, especially in our children.  So, what are we self-professed foodaholics to do?

I have found that retraining my thinking has helped me a lot.  It takes some focus and effort in the beginning, but after awhile it's fairly automatic.  It works, I promise.  Let me show you that you already know that it does.  Take the example I mentioned above regarding smoking.  How many positive images come to mind when you think about cigarettes?  How many negative ones?  It didn't used to be like that.  In the 40s and 50s, cigarettes had only positive images.  They calmed you, they were socially fun, and the menthol ones were even touted to be good for you – they made your throat feel better!  But what do we think of today?  Addictions, lung cancer, emphysema, second-hand smoke, etc.  Even most smokers have these images in their minds.  Trust me, I'm an ex-smoker myself, I know.  Why does this work?  Because it's the truth.  We can be conditioned with the lies and false associations, but if you make a conscious effort to reprogram your thinking with truth, it will stick.

So, how do we do this with food?

When you are confronted with a seemingly irresistible food item and you find yourself dwelling on it, teach yourself to dwell on its harmful aspects.  Learn what the fats and the sugars do to your body.

Every time you eat a food, it travels around your body as its nutrients and components are broken down.  All of it travels everywhere via your bloodstream.  The sugar, the fat and the vitamins as well.  That means it goes to all of your vital organs; kidneys, liver, brain and heart.  All of it.  That's why this stuff is so damaging.  Some of the fats get left in your arteries causing blockage that slows blood flow.  This creates a "traffic jam" that in turn raises your blood pressure.  Your heart has to beat harder to push the blood through the narrower arteries.  When the arteries get blocked badly enough, organs stop working.  If those arteries are in your heart, you can have a heart attack  If they are in your brain, you can have a stroke.

When you eat a large dose of sugar, your blood sugar spikes.  Your body does not like this and your pancreas sends out a large dose of insulin to counteract it.  The job of insulin is to create fat storage.  Usually it does this as quickly and efficiently as possible.  And usually, this means around your abdominal area, surrounding your vital organs.  This, in turn, makes it harder for your kidneys, your liver and other organs to do their job.  They wind up getting squished by the fat.  This makes it hard for them to function properly.

And, of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg.  If you continue with bad eating habits, the problems pile up one on top of another.

So, the next time you are looking at that giant gooey burger ad or that delicious sugary cake, think hard about what you are really putting into your body.  Put some focus on retraining your thinking.  It won't take long and then you will be in the habit of favoring the healthy stuff without effort.


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