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How the Food Industry Hooks Us... with CONVENIENCE

Episode 7: This episode discusses how the food industry uses the tool of convenience to hook consumers on their products.

Blog Description:
From ready to eat products, freezer to microwave, and fast food drive through, this episode shares some of the ways the food industry unleashes their tools of science and psychology to provide easy, convenient, food products. These products hook consumers in many ways. The ease of putting food on the table can trump the health benefits that comes from eating 'real' food.

2:28 Are we using food to entertain children?
5:07 The origins of how the food industry hooks us with convenience
9:30 Behold - the microwave!
12:09 Working moms found it easier to get take out than cook at home
15:07 What is the real price of convenience
25:52 Your body is going to thank you!

--- Full Raw Transcription of Podcast Below ---

Dr. Angela (00:06):
Welcome to the Keep the Weight Off Podcast - Episode #7, where we bust all the dieting myths and discovered not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. Now, your host, Dr. Angela.

Dr. Angela (00:31):
Hi everybody. Today we're going to talk about how the food industry hooks us with convenience. So if you are a new listener to the podcast, I want to say welcome. I'm so glad to have you here with us. Stick with Marchelle and me, and we're going to really help you learn valuable tools and techniques to not only get your weight off, but more importantly, get off the weight loss roller coaster ride and keep the weight off, right? One of the first things that we have to do is to stop beating ourselves up about this problem because it's not our fault. Okay? And so I am in the middle of this three part series because what's going on in the US now and around the world, the U S food industry has developed ways of deliberately hijacking our brains and essentially turning us into their pawns.

Dr. Angela (01:39):
So today's episode is part three of a three-part series on just how the food industry does this. I've talked about how they get us to crave their foods by essentially creating designer foods that will artificially stimulate pleasure in our brains. And this is what the food industry has labeled our bliss point. I've talked about how they work really hard to get children hooked on their products and how they spend more money marketing cereals to children, for example, than they do on the actual ingredients in the cereals. Can you believe that Marchelle?

Marchelle (02:14):
I was surprised to read that. Yeah, I was hooked on cereals when I was kid. I wanted them all. I wanted the toy that came with them.

Dr. Angela (02:25):
I was in a grocery store the other day and there was this cute little guy who was maybe like five or six years old and he was with his grandmother and he was dancing down the aisle.

Dr. Angela (02:40):
He was so cute. There was a song that was playing overhead and he was dancing to it. And then I noticed that he had a big box of Whoppers that he was munching on actually spilled one on the ground. And I was like, Oh my gosh, you know, this is great for grandma right now because the kids occupied and entertained with sugar, right. He came along to do her shopping, but what's this doing to his poor little brain? I'm like, Oh my gosh. I bet if grandma had any idea that this wasn't an innocent treat for this little guy, that she was setting him up for a lifetime of poor health and perhaps diabetes, she might never have done that. But then I started to think, well, I used to do that too. You know, like if my kids were, you know, acting out in the store or whatever not that I'd be worried, bad behavior, but if I've always worried about it, I used to grab something for them to eat and let them eat it while we were shopping. Like how many times have we done that? Have you, I mean, have you done that?

Marchelle (03:41):
I've done that many, many times. I've seen kids, you know, moms bring their kids into like target and that's it. And they're walking around and you hear the kids screaming and, you know, causing a big ruckus. And then you see her, you know, go grab a sucker and hand him a sucker. And it's almost like they know that if they start doing that, that they're going to get that because they're going to embarrass their parents. And it just becomes a thing where they go to the grocery store and they throw a fit until they get, you know, a Twinkie or something. So, yeah.

Dr. Angela (04:21):
Well, at any rate today, we're going to move on to part three of the series. And we're going to talk about how the food industry hooks us with convenience. In other words, they help us save time. It's a great strategy and it works really, really well. And those clever food marketers that work for the big food conglomerates like PepsiCo or Kraft or Coca-Cola or Nestle or general mills or Kellogg's. And there are plenty of other ones. They have been working over time to try to make sure that we recognize just how much easier life will be if we purchase their products

Marchelle (04:59):
And who doesn't want an easier life. Well, yeah, it's a very easy sell.

Dr. Angela (05:07):
Well, I want to take you back to the 1950s as a country. We were in full recovery mode after the end of world war II. Now I do want to say I was not yet born, but my parents were, but it was a time of great prosperity. And we were in the midst of a baby boom, and most married women were actually working at home as homemakers and mothers, caring for their children and life was really super busy and the marketers were eager to find ways to help these women get more done in less time. The CEO of general foods from 1954 to 1965 was a man named Charles Mortimer. And I'm going to read a quote of his from the book, salt, sugar fat by Michael Moss. In 1955, he told a gathering of household product executives, that there was an essential element of life that could be expressed in a single word, convenience spelled with a capital C convenience is the great additive which must be designed built in combined blended interwoven, injected inserted, or otherwise added to, or incorporated in products or services. If they are to satisfy today's demanding public, it is the new and controlling denominator of consumer acceptance or demand. He said there is convenience of form. And he talked about the Gaines burger dog food patties that are invented to be as soft as hamburger, but so durable that they can sit on the pantry shelf until needed. Now just a little mini me introduction here. I remember those things and our dog loved them. I don't know if you ever had them where you were

Marchelle (07:02):
No, we didn't. But when you use the word durable and food, and that makes me suspicious.

Dr. Angela (07:10):
Yeah, I know. So more on Charles Mortimer, he said there's convenience of time, like grocery stores that were starting to stay open later to accommodate increasing numbers of women who worked outside the home. And then there's the convenience of packaging like beer in bottles that used to have to be hauled back to the store, but we're now disposable. He said, modern Americans are willing to pay well for this additive to the products that they purchase. Not because of any native laziness, but because we're willing to use our greater wealth to buy fuller lives. And we have therefore better things to do with our time than mixing, blending, sorting, trimming, measuring, cooking, serving, and all the other actions that have gone into the routine of living. So this started in the fifties, all of these time-saving products arrived in the grocery store and they help the modern homemaker trade a little bit more of her new wealth for some extra time away from the kitchen.

Dr. Angela (08:18):
Ready to bake biscuits appeared in tubes that could be opened by merely tugging a string, a food scientist named Al Clausi developed a special instant pudding that could be mixed with milk and would set in 15 minutes without spending hours in the kitchen, stirring the pudding over a pot of boiling water. He also reformed the breakfast strength that everybody loved, but took mom so much time. And that's orange juice mother used to have to squeeze oranges every morning instead just mix up Tang and some cold water and be done with it. Now, my mother used to have some sort of frozen orange juice that she would use the two had mixed with water. So I don't know. Yeah. more varieties of cereals became available if you were tired of boiling and mashing potatoes, just purchase some instant mashed potatoes and don't forget minute rice. Right? Right. Gosh. So all of these, like in this, in the late fifties and sixties, all of these new products started coming out. And then in the 1970s, many Housewives went to work outside the home and the microwave became available. Now I remember the first microwave, it was called the radar range. And we were like among the first of my friends to get a radar range, we weren't like wealthy. But my parents valued convenience, I guess. I'm not sure.

Marchelle (09:57):
I don't think we got one for way later when they had gotten a lot cheaper.

Dr. Angela (10:03):
Well, it was really an interesting contraption. I remember, and I'm really aging myself here. But I remember, you know, you could just stick a cup of water in there and hit a button and a minute later your water would be boiling. And that was just unheard of, or you could throw a hot dog in there in a minute later, it would be cooked. It was incredible. Like you could melt butter in no time. And you know, when you think about it, no woman who's been at work in the workplace all day wants to think about preparing dinner. So the food industry was right there ready with pre cooked, easily heatable meals in the microwave, or maybe they would be pizzas or frozen burritos. And so you could just have this near instant, total game changer. It was, the microwave was a complete game.

Marchelle (10:56):
I wonder though. Do you think that when these new convenient food came out, like the biscuits and you know, all the other things, do you think that people, when they tasted it, that they could taste that it wasn't the same? They get tasted that there was something wasn't quite right, because you know, the difference between, you know, real mashed potatoes and instant mashed potatoes, there's such a different taste to them. And I just wonder that generation going from homemade food to these convenient instant foods. I wonder just how people gave in to that because they know they don't taste the same. I know that a frozen TV dinner does not taste the same as real meatloaf. And I don't know, that's curious to me how people would accept that and just really compromise taste for quickness.

Dr. Angela (11:54):
Yeah. And that's a really good point, but they did, they did,

Marchelle (11:59):
I'm sure there have like fresh squeezed orange juice then, you know, Tang. And so, yeah,

Dr. Angela (12:07):
I know, well working mothers on their way home from work, you know, if they wanted to go out to dinner, but they didn't want to hassle with walking into a restaurant order food and then waiting for the food to be delivered, they could just run through a drive-through on the way home from work and pick up their dinner in a bag. Right. And so when does that happen? And then as children get busy with after school activities and evening sports and that sort of stuff, the drive-through becomes even more important as a way to feed the busy family who has practices to get to an absolutely no time to plan or cook or eat a meal together as a family. I don't know about you Marshall, but that the fast food restaurants were really big in, in my parenting, you know, as I was raising kids and I was out and about

Marchelle (13:00):
Mine two, and then especially, you know, adding these collectible toys to the happy meals and they really sucked families and the children in, and you know, myself, like we moved around a lot. We, we traveled because Jordan's dad was helicopter logger, and it just became this way of life where, while we're traveling, you just run through a drive through wherever you go and no cooked meals. And that's just how things work.

Dr. Angela (13:36):
Yeah. So did you tell me that the first drive-through was actually White Castle?

Marchelle (13:43):
It was it was the 1920s in the twenties, 1921.

Dr. Angela (13:50):
Okay. That, that freaks me out too.

Marchelle (13:53):
Then McDonald's came, you know, 1950s and I think KFC came, you know, in 1952 and the rest is history.

Dr. Angela (14:02):
Yeah. Wow. I just can't imagine a car from the twenties sitting in a drive-through.

Marchelle (14:07):
I think that it was more the drive. Was it the drive up or the drive ins, you know, where you see the waitresses on rollerskates coming out delivering the food to the window with the tray?

Dr. Angela (14:24):
Yeah. I remember those. Yeah.

Dr. Angela (14:26):
Yeah. I think that's, that's how it started out. And then drive throughs. Yeah.

Dr. Angela (14:32):
All right. Well, have you ever thought about just what it takes to make pudding gel in 15 minutes instead of hours? Have you ever thought about that or what it takes to get it to just stay there? Unrefrigerated on the grocery store shelf until you're ready to buy it and eat it?

Marchelle (14:47):
Not really not until now. I mean, I didn't, I spent, you know, many, many years just, just going to the grocery store and not questioning, you know, the health benefits. I just didn't think like that. I just wanted to hurry up and get some food and getting to feed the family and be done with it.

Dr. Angela (15:05):
Yes. Well, what it, what does it take to make potato flakes turned into mashed potatoes in a few minutes or how you get oatmeal to become instant or how to make hamburgers and French fries that can be quickly prepared in a few minutes at your local McDonald's or Burger King. And the answer is chemical additives, preservatives, lot of chemistry, and the food scientists know exactly what they're doing and it's really, really convenient. And so all of these foods have all of these chemicals added to them. And then have you ever asked yourself, like what price this is? What does this cost us research shows that when people eat processed food, they actually eat 500 calories a day more than they do when they're eating whole foods.

Marchelle (15:51):
Right. And you can't really control like the salt intake or the sugar intake because it's ready-made so you don't have any control over that. And it's typically way over the, you know, the daily recommended allowance. So it makes it hard to eat like that three meals a day, because there's no way that you can stay within the healthy range of those products.

Dr. Angela (16:14):
Well, 500 calories a day over the course of a week, as a pound a week. That's what they discovered when they did that research that people who were eating processed food versus eating real food, they gained a pound.

Marchelle (16:25):
Yeah. I remember that. You know, like, do you remember when like sodas were a certain size and then they just started getting larger and larger and larger until you get the huge Big Gulp that came in like a bucket pretty much. And it was, it was a, I believe competition, you know, between fast food places. Like you get a way bigger drink for less price. And I just remember, like, these drinks would be so huge. You couldn't even put them, you know, in your cupholder it was that was bad.

Dr. Angela (16:59):
Yeah. Well, and then now a days we don't even have to drive through to get our food anymore. We just call up Uber eats, or we just have an app on our phone and we just order Uber Eats or Grub Hub, or there's a number of them out there. I mean, talk about convenience. You just, somebody just delivers it to you.

Marchelle (17:20):
Right. Great. You know, during the quarantine, when everything was shut down, and the restaurants were shut down, grocery stores were open, but I saw the lines packed in McDonald's and packed in at Burger King. There was, there was just so many cars in line. There'd be 30 cars in a line. And people were just eating so much of that. I mean, I don't know if it was like stress or convenience or what, but I just saw more people eating fast food than I had ever seen before during, during the quarantine. Yeah. Yeah. And then of course came the Grub Hub and Door Dash and all that kind of stuff. And it's not very expensive and it, and it's just, it's just super easy. You didn't have to go out around people. So

Dr. Angela (18:11):
I think that's why that became so popular is because you just, you didn't have to be around other people in order to get your food. You didn't have your store, you didn't have to go into a restaurant. You just had one person where you have the people handling it, but then you had one person bring it to you.

Marchelle (18:25):
You didn't even have to leave your house. You just had to think it up and then it would be there.

Dr. Angela (18:30):
Yeah, it's crazy. Well, one of our patients today was telling me that he had noticed that there were restaurants that in order to keep staff on their payroll restaurants, that ordinarily would not deliver food, suddenly had food delivery services now during the pandemic, because they wanted to keep staff on their payroll. And so they would pay them to go deliver food out to people, which I found really, you know, like, like that's a great way for a small restaurant to stay in business, you know,

Marchelle (19:05):
Like also with all of the fast food places that would never deliver, you know, with the Door Dash or they're all delivering then. So yeah, so that was something new. And I just, yeah, I just think that interesting. It just became such an easy thing to do that everybody was doing it.

Dr. Angela (19:26):
Yeah. I mean, I think food has just become so freaking convenient these days that it is really, really easy to overeat. It just is, you know, so, so what are we gonna do about this?

Marchelle (19:39):
Sure. Because I think we're in a pretty bad cycle of, you know, you, you just want to think you're hungry in that moment and then you expect to be able to eat right then because you can, you know, you drive through and it takes you 20 seconds to get food. And a lot of people are tired and, and just hungry. They just basically want to fill their bellies more than they want it to taste a certain way. And I don't know why people think fast food tastes so good because it really doesn't. And if you stay away from it for awhile and you detox up for the flour and you about the sugar, you could not, you can't even hardly drive past a fast food restaurant and smell it because it just smells horrible. I can't even describe the smell that comes out of these fast food restaurants. But yeah. So it's problem.

Dr. Angela (20:32):
I want to suggest to our listeners that they focus on trying to eat more real whole foods because, you know, once you get used to it, it doesn't take that much more effort. Really. It's not the same. Having something delivered to your door, I'll grant you that, but you can spend 20 minutes waiting for a pizza to heat up, or you can spend 20 minutes waiting for Uber to deliver you something. Or you can spend 20 minutes chopping some meat and vegetables and making a stir fry

Marchelle (21:03):
Right direction is now they have these delivery services like what is it, the fresh meals hello, fresh. And you know, there's quite a few of them now, and you can use, you know, the vegan diet or the Paleo or the Keto, and, you know, you still have to cook them, but it all comes to your door. And I know a lot of our patients are using those and it might be like a step in the right direction from doing the fast food, even though it's more convenient, but it's healthier. So I think that's a better idea if you still feel like you don't have the time.

Dr. Angela (21:42):
Yeah. It's nice. Because with those types of services, you order ahead of time, you know, advanced meal planning. So they do all the planning for you basically put all of the ingredients together and they send them to you in a whole form with the spices that you need and the sauces that you need and all of that. And then all you have to do is chop it, dice it and then cook it. But the planning and the shopping is all taken care of for you, which is really nice. And families, families cooking together is a really beautiful thing. It's I think it's a lost art in this country, you know, to cook together as a family is a really good bonding time cooking together as a family and cleaning up as a family is really good bonding time because that's the other thing about that. So convenient about convenience food is if you're not cooking it, you're not making a big mess in the kitchen. Right,

Marchelle (22:37):
Right. That's, that's one reason why I do it is cause I don't want to clean up afterwards.

Dr. Angela (22:41):
Yeah, exactly. So, but again, that can be some really awesome bonding time. I have a friend named Lisa who she grew up, I think she grew up mostly in the States, but she's Mexican. And she said that what she learned growing up from her Mexican origins was that, that was the time of bonding among women was the cleanup after, after dinner, after a dinner party. And so like if she's over at my house or I'm at her house, it's like, well, let's clean up together, you know, and we can chat and we can talk and enjoy our girl time together. So it's nice. It doesn't just happen. It can be, it can be husband, wife, time. It can be kid and family time. It can be it's nice. I mean, just a little job to do together, you know, so cooking and preparing a meal and then cleaning up afterwards is good quality.

Marchelle (23:31):
Do you notice that whenever we do decide to cause you know, I struggle with this still, you know, being tired or not prepping and you know, wanting feeling guilty if I go to fast food, but you know, trying not to give in that. So what am I, you know, well, what else am I going to do? But I do, I have realized that when we, as a family make the effort to make a meal, we talk more or interacting. We, it puts us in a better mood. It just really affects our family in a positive way and stuff. Just about the, you know, like you said about the eating the food, it's just about the bonding time and taking time out of, you know, looking at your phone or watching YouTube or, you know, being off in other rooms and yeah. And I always enjoy doing, and I'm always happy when we do it and consistency is something that we have to work on. But yeah, it's, it's wonderful experience.

Dr. Angela (24:28):
How often does it happen that if you go through a drive-through and everybody gets there, you know, let's say you go to McDonald's or whatever, and he has the Big Mac and son has a Big Mac and everybody just kind of takes their food to their room and eats it.

Marchelle (24:42):
That's exactly what happens is everybody grabs their stuff and go, you know, goes into their separate areas and yeah. And it just totally, and then we just find that no time to really have, you know, conversations that we need to have because then, you know, we're busy. So it is, it is really, really good for our family to do it. I've noticed, but I just have to try to be more consistent about it.

Dr. Angela (25:06):
Yeah. Yeah. Hey, I think once or twice a week is plenty. It's I mean, it's, it's better than nothing for sure. So definitely. Yeah. So I would encourage our podcast listeners to, you know, focus on focus on that time as good quality time. And you know, and the nice thing is if you prepare, if you plan ahead and you make enough dinner, you can make your lunch for the next day too. That's that's my usual, my usual strategy is to make my lunch the next day. Just be leftovers from dinner the night before.

Marchelle (25:38):
Right. Prepping is definitely the key.

Dr. Angela (25:42):
If you're, if you're making a really delicious meal, why not have it more than once? You know? So, yeah. So yeah, so, so I think this is just, this is just one of those really important habits for people to, to develop is to, is the habit of eating real whole food and cooking and preparing and taking that time. And your body is going to thank you. And you're going to stay out of doctor's offices for the rest of your life. And you're going to save money on medication bills. And you're not going to worry about getting diabetes. If you eat real food, you're not going to get diabetes.

Marchelle (26:17):
Right. We need to all just, you know, really make the effort to start this new movement, to take it back. You know, the healthy foods, because I do know that like, just during the quarantine, we had so many patients that have come back and you've gained like 10, 15, 20 pounds during the lockup because of course, you know, they couldn't go to the gym, but they just started making these fast food decisions and, and got into a rut. So we need to really like bring awareness to

Dr. Angela (26:44):
How to bring ourselves back out. And like you said, one step I think is, you know, if you're, if you're going to do, try to do some convenient food is to do the hello fresh or something like that, because they do have some options with different types of being or paleo or something like that. So yeah, we need to, we need to make some changes. Yeah. Yeah. So important. Okay. Well, I just wanted to make sure that everybody understood the food industry is deliberately working to get us hooked. And of course they're constantly advertising and they're constantly marketing to kids and they're constantly marketing to us. And if you watch TV at all, you're constantly seeing ads for foods that are very, very tempted and convenience is just one more piece of the puzzle. You know, it's just one more piece of the puzzle. And so again, I just, I don't want people blaming themselves because this is a, like a cultural issue and we've allowed the food industry to do this as a society. We've allowed the food industry to hook us like this. And I don't think most people have any idea just how hooked they are. As a matter of fact, we had a patient come in, I think it was yesterday. And she came in for her one month followup. She said, I didn't think I ate that much sugar and flour, but I swear to God, I had such a horrible withdrawal when I stopped eating.

Dr. Angela (28:15):
So, so we don't realize how hooked we are on all this stuff. So they, they just know exactly what they're doing. So you have any last minute thoughts, Marchelle?

Marchelle (28:26):
I just think if it's convenience with a capital C - question it before you buy it.

Dr. Angela (28:34):
Good point. I agree. Thank you. All right, everybody. So we will see you next week with another podcast episode in the meantime, make good food decisions. And if you want to learn more, go to journey beyond weight and the show notes will be there. And also the free course will be there too. So we'll see you next time. Bye-Bye

Announcer (28:57):
Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angelas free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way, just head over to to sign up. Also, it would be awesome if you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks. And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss!

Dr. Angela


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