Consuming Media: The Hidden Agenda

So much of our food consumption is influenced by our media consumption. Not only does it suggest what and where to eat, but it advocates how we should look, which can trigger a lot of food issues. Americans spend a lot of time in front a screen, whether it’s a T.V. set or a smart phone, which makes it really difficult to avoid the deluge of ads, ranging from fast food to find dining, happy hour specials to seasonal specials (Pumpkin Spice Latte, anyone?). Have you ever noticed that even pet food is marketed to appeal to us! Why else would we see dog food that looks like pate or smells like bacon? What’s more, at the same time we’re being bombarded with commercials trying to get us to eat more, we’re also guilted into feeling like we don’t look good enough and should weigh less, so we should buy stuff to look great.

A Newscast in Thailand. I just had to take a picture!

A Newscast in Thailand. How could I not take pictures?

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Even with the increase in the use of DVRs that might mean skipping some commercials, viewers are still inundated with product placement during shows and movies. Browsing the Internet doesn’t provide a safe haven either, as businesses use every possible venue to grab our attention to sell us on the latest things. Even news venues latch onto the latest research findings and sensationalize them, while relying on ad space to make money.

Watching T.V. can be just as detrimental to making a lifestyle change as going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. As someone who loves to cook and a food addict, I enjoyed watching cooking shows, seeing how food was made on Unwrapped, and learning the science behind cooking with Alton Brown. The problem was that these made me want to eat, even though I often watched them after dinner. My lifestyle change made me realize how often I’d been prompted to eat even when I wasn’t hungry. Though I enjoyed these shows, they weren’t doing me any favors in my lifestyle change.

Strategies

Combating this barrage of food and drink images requires a strategy to resist the temptations presented by professionals paid big bucks to make a burger, cookie, or beer look and sound as appealing as possible. And think about how many food jingles you know, due to the brilliant marketing strategies of the Incredible Edible Egg, Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner, and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat.

Consider recording non-food shows and skipping commercials. It’s also advisable to make sure you have a snack or dessert allotted during your viewing time so can indulge, if you realize, like me, that this is a trigger mechanism for you to eat. The important thing is to know that every media outlet is trying to sell you something and to be aware that a regular, often enjoyable pastime is full of pitfalls.

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