You’ve seen the obesity statistics, right? It’s staggering — like I just drank a whole bottle of vodka for breakfast, staggering. Based on that, you’d think my entire notion of people being afraid of food would be, poppycock.
But according to her article, which used the advent of sugar-free diets to make a larger point, The Conversation’s Tara Leong insists we are indeed afraid of food, mainly because diets are, “…restrictive, with lists of ‘allowed’ foods (such as whole grains, blueberries and grapefruits) and ‘not allowed’ foods (such as white bread, bananas and raisins). This inadvertently promotes a diet mentality and causes followers to worry about accidentally eating something that’s not allowed.”
It’s true, the whole idea of dieting is based in restriction — foods we have to avoid in order to lose weight, have more energy, eat healthy, or whatever. This preoccupation can even lead to the development of an actual disease, again according to Ms. Leong, “Orthorexia is the overwhelming preoccupation with eating healthily. People with orthorexia spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about food and eliminating foods that are deemed impure or unhealthy. Some experts suggest this behavior is a precursor to, or a form of, an eating disorder.”
Come on, this is nuts — I mean, food has always been our ally. How have we gotten to the point where the stuff represents something to be afraid of? Again, I say, nuts.
Okay, so if we in the food biz are trying to help people, in addition to ourselves, what might we consider as steps to beating this weird food fear? I have a few ideas:
- Tell your consumers that no food is a bad food. Yes, certain people have verifiable issues with some foods — but that doesn’t make these foods bad — every food on Earth is on Earth for a reason.
- Help people understand the difference between having a legitimate sensitivity and a media- or diet-induced phobia. Maybe you have to remind your consumers, when people are out to make money, facts become squishy.
- To that previous point, make sure you’re seen as the good guy; be sure you’re being open with your consumers — show both sides, help people use data to make decisions — not just opinions. And help them believe you’re being honest, because you are, right?
- Talk moderation — there’s almost nothing that will jack you up if you keep the use minor. Maybe that will help take the pressure off when that gluten-sensitive consumer of yours accidentally eats a bite of a cupcake. It’s gonna be okay.
- Finally, even tough it’s pretty heady, talk to your consumers about getting a food sensitivity test. There are several on the market and they range from $200 to $400. It’s really, really worth it.
Okay, that’s it. Let’s get rid of this food fear and sell more food, shall we?
Be digestible. And thanks.