Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Food Network-Porn for Fat People

Does Watching Cooking Shows Make You Hungry?

I don't know about you, but just watching cooking shows on television tends to make my mouth salivate and lead me to think that I am hungry. This pretty much stinks for me, because I love me my cooking shows! Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Just Desserts and now Top Chef All-Stars. And that's just the beginning. Iron Chef, The Next Iron Chef, How to Cook Like an Iron Chef . . . I've loved them all. I even completely enjoy watching people eat food on TV, especially on The Travel Channel, where Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern and the Man vs. Food guy (what's his name?) gorge themselves on unhealthy and pretty much disgusting grub. But it's entertainment, my kind of sport on TV.

So you can imagine how hard I was laughing a few years ago when a joke was made on Saturday Night Live, "The Food Network-porn for fat people." Well, maybe I cried a little. Something in my head changed that night, I could never watch cooking on TV again without thinking, "Maybe this just isn't that healthy for me."

But the mind is a powerful thing, and I found myself able to adapt. Once I knew that any type of food craving I had while watching food porn was just that--a craving--and not real hunger, I just stopped associating watching food on TV with eating. It really was that simple. A disconnect happened in my brain. I may still have a craving when I see Top Chef Just Desserts, but I talk myself down immediately and move on to enjoying the show.

Advertisers for processed food crap know all about how the human brain works, and they have no shame either. So they plaster their ads and commercials everywhere--including the shows our children watch--enticing us all with imagery of sugary baked goods, knowing the effect it has on us. We want it, and we want it now.

And have you ever noticed how little vegan or even vegetarian cooking is done on television? Why are the chefs on TV so obsessed with meat and refined sugar? Is it a symptom of how our society is obsessed with these things or is it creating our fixation on them? Don't any of these TV personalities care about their own health? Come on Michael Symon, do you really eat like it appears that you do from how you cook on TV and your restaurant menus? Can anyone say "heart disease"? It must take a lot of working out at the club to look like you do. I love you man, but you're killing me! I dare you to go hear Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn speak about the causes of cardiovascular disease and continue eating like you seem like you do.

The new Cooking Channel aired a special about the growing vegan and vegetarian restaurant movement in America called The Veg Edge. "The Veg Edge journeys the country unearthing a new breed of vegetarians. From a punk rock vegan in L.A. to vegetable-loving firemen deep in the heart of Texas, to a kick boxing chef who serves up meatless Mondays at his high-end NYC restaurant. Vegetarians 2010: food carts in Portland, a California beauty, East Village hipsters, confessions, recipes, even ribs!...sort of."

It was so fun and exciting to watch, I only wish that, for the sake of our society's health, the powers that be were creating regular programming on vegan cooking. It's not too late to catch the special, they are going to air it again many times. Did watching The Veg Edge make my mouth water the way some other food programs do? Surprisingly not. But the food did look darned good! Check out a clip from the show here:



NPR did an interesting piece on a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who are studying the effect of thinking about food on the amount of food that we eat.

"The researchers found that people who just imagined moving M&Ms around ate nearly twice as much those who had fantasized about eating them. The findings were just published in the journal Science.

It turns out that there's something about this visualization of eating that confuses our brains. It's as if our minds mistake the mere act of imagining with real consumption.

Cornell's David Just, a behavioral economist, has a theory about how it works, 'If you start imagining yourself eating the M&Ms your body is actually going to produce some of the dopamine and some of the physical responses to having eaten.'

So your first real bite can sort of feel like the 30th. The novelty has worn off—and you eat less."

Get the full story here. And of course, I would love to know your thoughts on this issue!

2 comments:

SunnyHawk said...

I was so excited to see the VegEdge come on....I just hope they will do more of this and show actual food preparation. I love Iron Chef, but wish they would have a vegan version. The Food Revolution is on....we should consider making our voices heard and maybe e-mail the powers that be that there is interest in covering such things!
Sue in Ohio

Calotren said...

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