The Power of Advertising?

With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Some people could sell snow to Eskimos and they are dearly loved by the advertising industry who, mercilessly exploiting their abilities, make sure that we crave things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. With their almost hypnotic powers of persuasion, we become convinced that the new Biological Bling will make our whites so dazzlingly white that everything we ever dreamed of will be delivered to us on a silver platter by a pink unicorn…..

Just do itIf I say “Just Do It”, what pops into your mind? A pair of Nike trainers by an chance? If yes then that’s the power of advertising and exactly why Nike make billions of dollars every year. Their trainers are great, I wear them, you wear them, hell everybody wears them; there are other brands out there but it’s just not the same is it? The slogan “Just Do It” is somehow inspirational; it’s almost telling you ‘You CAN do it; don’t be afraid, wear our trainers and you will get where you wan’t to be’. You WANT to get out there and exercise so you end up looking like the person in the ad. Amazing right?

McDonalds HealthyWell, yes and no. I’m just as much a sucker as the next person; if a new beauty product is launched and lauded with the promise that it will fight all the crap that’s been giving me wrinkles I’ll try it! Of course, deep down, I know that no such miracle exists but the only thing it’s cost me is cash (quite a lot of it in some cases but hey ho). However, when those marketing geniuses are snapped up by companies whose sole purpose is to sell junk food to an unsuspecting public it’s a different thing entirely. The sole purpose of advertising and marketing is to convince people to buy a product and, one of the best ways of doing it is to tell people what they want to hear. Unless people have been living in a cave for the last 10 years, they’ll know that fast food, eaten in quantity, is not healthy so what do the advertisers do? They word their ads in such a way that the customer thinks that they are getting a healthier version of the food that they want to eat but know if bad for them. The companies continue to sell their products and the consumers get to appease their guilty conscience, despite all the evidence that that their food choices are making them fat and unhealthy but, let’s face it, McDonalds and their ilk wouldn’t shift many burgers if their slogan was “Want to get Type 2 diabetes?  We’re lovin’ it”

If the marketing campaigns are targeted at adults, that’s one thing but, when they’re targeted at kids I do wonder if it’s entirely ethical. I would think that most parents find it pretty difficult to say no to their children and when they’re complaining of being hungry and a cheap meal with a free toy (!) is on offer just across the road what are they going to do? Yes, in an ideal world all parents would be aware of the dangers of consuming too much junk food and say no to the tears and the foot stamping but, also in an ideal world, advertisers would have a few scruples.

I don’t like the idea of banning anything really as I believe that we are all free to make our own choices in life but I am beginning to question whether Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is right in his calls to curb the junk food adverts that are targeted specifically at kids – what do you think?

Food. Unhealthy food
Join Millions of others on their journey towards heart disease and diabetes. You’ll never be alone with Junk Food!

Yes, We Are All Individuals

So, on the one hand we have groups who campaign against purveyors of junk food and sugary beverages and on the other we have groups who campaign for their right to eat whatever they damn well please. What we don’t seem to have anywhere in the middle are individuals who have received enough nutritional education to make their food choices based on knowledge rather than what one crowd or another is telling them to do

Does anyone remember the wonderfully irreverent film Life of Brian? Specifically the scene where Brian tries to persuade a huge crowd to stop following him by telling them that they don’t need a leader because they are all individuals? The ironic response was ‘Yes! We are all individuals’……in complete unison…….with only one dissenting voice which was immediately shushed by the crowd. It seemed hugely amusing at the time but I do wonder if it has become our reality.

offering candyThere was an article in the news recently in which a healthy eating campaigner criticised a shop for putting huge quantities of chocolate bars close to the checkout complaining that they were ‘cashing in on our sweet tooth’. So, effectively what he is saying is that ‘we’ are incapable of resisting temptation and that the blame for the negative results that arise from an individual’s bad food choices i.e. obesity should rest with a shop?? When did we stop taking responsibility for our own actions? In this instance, what the critic seems to ignore is that no-one is standing by the check out forcing free candy on unwitting shoppers; people make a choice – to buy or not to buy….

The same logic (if you want to call it that) is used by Government when implement ideas like the sugar tax; it’s a blanket response to something which is an individual’s problem. Taxes on tobacco and alcohol haven’t stopped people smoking or drinking because, when you’re dealing with an addiction, the price is pretty much irrelevant. churchill quoteUnfortunately this type of action is also likely to provoke far more negative responses than positive; after all how many people are ever happy when a new tax is introduced? It also means that people will be inclined to band together to stop what they view as oppression by the Government – there is even a Twitter group which has been set up to oppose the sugar tax and says that the ‘it’s not nutritious brigade’ are forcing their choices on the rest of us.

So, on the one hand we have groups who campaign against purveyors of junk food and sugary beverages and on the other we have groups who campaign for their right to eat whatever they damn well please. What we don’t seem to have anywhere in the middle are individuals who have received enough nutritional education to make their food choices based on knowledge rather than what one crowd or another is telling them to do.

BlameWe all have the opportunity to learn about our food choices and what impact they can have on our health; the internet is absolutely awash with information. However, it seems as though people are far more likely to rely on the information provided to them in bite sized pieces by one self-interested group or another than to trust their own decision making. It’s easy to blame the Government or shop-keepers or schools for the current obesity epidemic, it’s far more difficult to take responsibility as individuals but, as the film said, we are all individuals.

Popping or Chewing? What do you Prefer?

On with the bikini, a glass of orange juice and some soy beans to snack on and you’re good to go :O)

 

Our bodies are super, amazing, incredible machines but, as we get older, they lose a little bit of their efficiency so we need to make sure that we have the right stuff going in to maintain our energy and fitness levels. That means looking at our vitamin and mineral intake; sure you have the quick option of popping a few pills everyday but, if you include the right things in your diet, you really shouldn’t need them. Here are a few of the essentials and the foods that you can find them in:

Vitamin B12 helps to make DNA and to keep blood cells healthy so it’s pretty important. It can be found in dairy products and oily fish like salmon and mackerel but the absolute best source is the love it or hate it liver. I know liver has a very strong flavour but cooked slowly in red wine and onion sauce it really is delicious and sooo good for you.

Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium which keeps our bones strong so we need to make sure that we are getting enough of both to help maintain our bone health as we get older to avoid fractures and breaks from falls. Great food sources are oranges, spinach and kale, soy beans and, best of all, sunlight. On with the bikini, a glass of orange juice and some soy beans to snack on and you’re good to go :O)

Folate encourages our cells and tissue to repair and grow. It’s also known as vitamin B9 and is found in a number of foods which should definitely add to your diet if you haven’t already. The more that we can encourage our bodies’ basic building blocks to do their thing the better!

Avocados, asparagus, broccoli and lentils will all provide you with vitamin B9 and they’re all healthy and tasty ways to kick start our self-repair systems.

Vitamins E and C are great for helping to prevent the damage caused to our skin by the sun and so are an absolute must have as we get older if we don’t want to be all wrinkly and prune like. Avocados (they really are something special!) and oranges are great sources and so are these beauties:

All these wonderful, colourful foods taste great (except maybe liver, it’s not everybody’s favourite is it?) and they will help your body to remain strong and healthy. Eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you can and try to avoid fast foods and processed foods as they are loaded with the kind of things that your body really doesn’t need if you want to keep it in its optimal state.

Happy, healthy eating everyone x

In Pursuit of Beauty?

…beauty is in the eye of the media

It would seem these days that beauty is in the eye of the media; there are millions of images on the TV, in magazines, on the internet etc. all telling us what we should or shouldn’t look like. Unfortunately, as with all things, the media is not exactly consistent.

How many times do we see pictures like these? ‘So and so celebrity has really piled on the pounds!’ Then the next day ‘so and so celebrity is too skinny’; ironically it’s often the same celebrity who was lambasted for being overweight 6 months previously.

If you type ‘celebrities who’ve let themselves go’ into google it will bring up hundreds of people who have simply got older or lost/gained a little weight. So celebrities are human huh? Shocker! (This comes with rolling eyes and a slight feeling of exasperation).

The question is where does this leave the rest of us mere mortals? Well, we now have young people who become anorexic or bulimic because their onscreen role models are a size 6. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not said idol is happy being that size or whether their job (and the media) demands that they are slim and actually they’d really like to be able to have a dessert occasionally. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether or not they will be healthy as a size 6; if you’re naturally slim it’s one thing, if you’re naturally a size 14 and shrink yourself down to a size 6 is another thing altogether. They also don’t consider the fact that many stars have personal trainers and spend hours in the gym with them every day; to lose weight without exercise will mean a big and potentially dangerous reduction in calories.

On the flip side we now also have Fat Acceptance (or Body Acceptance) which is essentially people who are overweight, and know that they’re overweight, fighting back against Fat Shaming. fat shaming 2(This is the charming past-time of being unpleasant to people considered fat by ‘shamers’ on social media.) There is even a Fat Activist movement which addresses the issue of, what they see as, society’s ‘bias’ against obese people.

This means that, on the one hand we have young people desperate to be skinny and, on the other, we have those who are obese calling for fat-shaming to be considered a hate crime. It’s well known that both anorexia and obesity come with massive health risks and yet both are on the increase.

Part of the obesity problem can certainly be attributed to the fast and convenience food that has become a staple for many people. Sugar is believed to be more addictive than cocaine and yet these type of food are absolutely packed full of it. However, another part of the problem is our attitudes to ourselves and our bodies and the fact that open and honest discussions are few and far between. The Government is seen as ‘the Nanny State’ if it advises people on the health risks of obesity and anorexia, schools no longer teach classes on cookery and nutrition, children are happier in front of a computer screen rather than being outside running around and the internet provides a safe haven for advocates of over-eating and starvation and the bullies that follow them. If we could all see the damage that’s being done to our insides maybe we’d be less concerned with how we look on the outside……….

 

You Can’t See Me

Perhaps there’s a team of elves that sneak around exchanging people’s healthy salad options for a double burger and fries with bacon and extra cheese?

As human beings we don’t literally stick our heads in the sand but we do have a tendency to do it metaphorically; it’s in our nature to mentally side step those things that we don’t really want to think about and avoid doing those things that we don’t want to do. Unfortunately, the media (both social and mainstream) seems to have encouraged this trait to a point where the responsibility for our actions always lays with someone or something else. How many times do we see “the Government should…..” or “the police should” or “teachers should”? This is a great example of that kind of buck passing; people are eating far too much unhealthy food but they ‘have been tricked into it’!

Perhaps there’s a team of elves that sneak around exchanging people’s healthy salad options for a double burger and fries with bacon and extra cheese? Perhaps there’s some sort of magic afoot which makes a double burger with fries, extra bacon and cheese look like a healthy salad??  No? Then maybe it’s just the case that we’re all well aware when we’re eating too much unhealthy food but we just stick our heads in the sand until something happens to make us realise that we haven’t made the best choices.

There’s nothing wrong with eating what you want to eat as long as you are happy with the consequences and are prepared to take responsibility for them. If you make your choices consciously then what’s the problem…..

This is a really useful site to help you work out how many calories you should be eating every day, how many you eat to lose weight and how many to gain weight; there are too many factors to consider for it to be 100% accurate but it will certainly give you are really excellent idea. Let’s say you’re a 50 year old woman, 5ft 6 tall, you weigh 160llbs and you do little or no exercise – your calorie intake to maintain your weight will be around 1635 per day, if you eat 1000 calories per day more than this you will gain around 2llb per week.

Cornflakes, toast and butter, orange juice   And black coffee: About 430 calories

Tuna Mayonnaise baguette: Around 520 cals

1/4lb burger with cheese and fries:  Around 800 calories

So that’s it, your 1635 calories blown totally out of the water with fairly average breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course that’s without any drinks and snacks:

Chocolate bar = around 200 calories

A glass of wine = about 125 calories

Cappuccino = another 120+ calories

And there you go, if you have a couple of cups of coffee in the morning and a couple of glasses of wine at night your calorie intake has topped 2500 and, if you don’t do any exercise you could find yourself putting on up to 2llb per week or 100llb in a year; that’s 7 stone.

There are some great sites on the internet that will tell you how many calories you’re eating and others that will tell you how many calories you burn when you exercise so there’s really no excuse not to lose weight if you want to. If you don’t want to that’s fine as long as you are aware that your lifestyle means that you will probably continue to gain. It’s really up to you; no-one else should be able to tell you how to live your life, as long as you’re happy that’s all that matters. This is just to give you some awareness and insight so that, if you decide to make some changes, you can do it a little more easily.