Vacation-starved Americans are traveling more than ever this summer, and travel analysts even have a term for it: revenge travel. So as more of us board airplanes and make long-awaited road trips to see friends and family we haven’t been able to see for the last two years, we shouldn’t be surprised to see more of a certain type of advertisement than usual this year.
In fact, if you were to take a road trip across the United States right now, you’ll be bombarded with food ads and reminders of all the other little things you have been missing out on for the last two years. An example of this is how gum sales have been down because we were seeing each other face-to-face less often. But the rest of the candy industry is looking to make a strong comeback and retailers everywhere know it’s one of the easiest ways to tempt you to come into their stores.
Impulse Buying - It’s Not Your Fault
The fact of the matter is, human beings are hardwired to seek out food and sustenance. It’s a natural instinct, and even the lowliest animals know to seek out water or salt when their bodies crave it. This instinct is so deeply ingrained into our biological systems, studies have even shown that we shop and buy more when we are hungry and these cravings are the same as those experienced when your body is given drugs like cocaine and opium.
Marketers understand these basic instincts and have even named it Behavioral Marketing. Particularly good marketers understand that people make purchases based on evolutionary habits that are built into their brains. So by combining multiple basic factors that everyone will be tempted by, such as hunger on a road trip and the desire to seek out vital minerals and nutrients, companies are able to “help” you meet your evolutionary needs so you make purchases that a well-rested, well-fed you would not normally make.
You might be thinking: “What’s the harm? If my body needs salts and sugars, a little snack wouldn’t hurt, right?” The problem is while salt is essential to life, you actually need very little salt to function and sugar is not a necessary nutrient at all. The only reason we crave sugar is because of a mutation that happened millions of years ago that allows us to stow very small amounts of sugar as fat. This was great when our ancestors were nomadic cavemen, but not very helpful for today’s sedentary, work-from-home lifestyles.
Aha!... So Now What?
It’s easy to recognize this undesirable trait now, but under the heat of a hot desert sun, when you have kids in your backseat screaming for food, it becomes harder to ignore.
Don’t get us wrong: If you were to buy these sugary, salty foods just once, it would be fine. But road trips can lead to long days waiting in amusement park lines, which then lead to junk food-laden county fairs and eventually you’ll find yourself back to stressful days at work where you just need to get food on the table after a long day’s work and the problem then snowballs from there.
What may seem counterintuitive and may seem downright unfair at times, is how some people can eat as much junk food as they want and seem to be thin, happy and well-adjusted. However, it’s key to remember that every person is different and we as a society are still learning why some people seem to digest processed foods better than others.
This means everyone can tolerate a different amount of inflammatory foods. Your body can tolerate a sugary drink here, or a salty snack there, but it’s best to limit this. One idea from our Restore, Reset, Recharge Nutritional Plan is to “work” via your meals 5 days a week and “rest” 2 days a week, where you can have one sugary or salty treat each day. Even better, if you can make that treat a fibrous snack like tasty garbanzo beans, that can help you achieve your overall health goals while satiating your need for salt.
To learn more about how you can change your unhealthy habits and behaviors into a lifestyle that will help support a stronger, anti-inflammatory life, be sure to follow this blog, our social media handles and our newsletter here to get more tips and ideas every week.