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Addicted to Love

August 29, 2011

Cast your mind back to the 1980’s (which feels like about 20 years ago but which is probably a bit longer ago than that) when Robert Palmer released this most excellent and much satirised video and when the concept of either loving or hating Marmite was just a thing we talked about among ourselves.  One could buy Marmite in a jar and it had a kind of instruction/warning on it – “spread thinly!”  Nobody  bothered reading the label so, unless they’d made home brew, they didn’t really know (or care) what Marmite was made of.  We suspected twiglets contained it too and they tasted a lot better then than they do now.

I was most definitely in the marmite LOVE camp while my sister occupied the opposing camp, and still does – thus proving it’s not genetic.  I liked Marmite sandwiches, Marmite on toast and occasionally, after reading somewhere (probably on the label of a large jar) that it could be added to soups and gravies, a bit of Marmite in the Heinz mushroom soup – which tasted wierd.  A small amount of effort to add a small amount of Marmite to something else and one is probably in the clear i.e. unlikely to OD on the sodium content.   It’s got vitamin B12 in it too so is useful for persons who don’t access the usual sources of that.

And then, gradually, like a savoury virus, there came the unstoppable rise of Marmite Junk Food!
I generally pride myself on being able to bypass junk food in favour of the healthy stuff.  However, when Marmite’s involved, I go crazy.  I thought I was safe from Marmite crisps so long as I didn’t go into Morrison’s (only place round here that sells them) and then I tried Fudges Bakery Marmite biscuits, which Tesco sells, and the whole pack – over 600 calories’ worth – got eaten in one day.  Aside from the sodium it’s not what I’m getting from that 600 calories that bothers me as much as what I’m missing out on.  Like variety, like other vitamins and protein and all of that stuff that tends to be mainly absent from savoury cookies.  I picture myself writing to Unilever asking them if they know what they’re doing and them replying yes of course they do and it’s making them a load of cash, thank you.

I didn’t intend to make this whole post about Marmite but instead I wanted to talk about foods that people get addicted to.   I know one of the books I recently reviewed was saying how we get addicted to high levels of sugar, salt and fat but it seems different people get addicted to different products containing high sugar, salt and/or fat.  I wonder what personal factors decide which junk foods we will become addicted to and which we won’t?

For some reason I would forego high fat and sugar levels in favour of higher salt.  Someone else might favour sweetness and ‘chewability’.  Someone else again might be all about the creamy, whether it’s canned soup or pudding.  What we all want really is a serotonin hit, that comforting warmth our favourite food can give.  If there are pleasant associations from childhood with that food then we may get the nostalgia alongside the high.  We keep eating but it’s all false promise and then we feel a bit too full up and/or a bit sick.

If I want to live my life free of this addiction then I’m going to need to intervene and stop myself before buying stuff I know I’ll just devour in large quantities and immediately.  When I want a LOVE hit (serotonin also gets released when you’re in love) I’ll have to recognise that junk foods x, y or z aren’t going to give me what I really need.   I say it enough to my stop smoking clients, the way to continue to be free of addiction once you’ve quit is to live a life that makes you happy and fulfilled, where you get inspired and are doing what you want to be doing.  Nobody likes going the long way round but it’s more effective in the longer term.

If all else fails and the Marmite Junk Food monster is still beckoning, I reckon I’ll stop and ask someone for a snog instead.  But not in Tesco, I don’t want to get banned.

From → Junk

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