The Guilt Factor
Women feel guilty a lot. They feel guilty about short-changing their parents, husbands, kids, homes, jobs, bodies, minds, God - and about snacking. Food manufacturers know this, and so they are careful not to trip the guilt switch to discourage sales.
Women snack more often than men (even though they usually need fewer calories). Women choose snacks that are sweet 25% of the time, salty 14% of the time, and 61% of the time, they snack on beverages and wholesome food. Snack food manufacturers want women to eat more salty snacks, and so they probed women’s brains to see what makes them tick.
Neuromarketing is a technique that measures how consumers react to products by reading their brains. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is performed to record conscious and subconscious responses to advertising, products and brands. Neuromarketing shows that women really want to eat healthy food.
A wolf in sheep's clothing
Food manufacturers want women to eat salty snacks and so they disguise them as healthy foods. The names are changed, the packaging is designed to look “healthy” (green and amber), and the women-friendly snacks are placed together at the end of the aisle. TV commercials feature hip women who we want for our friends. And the food label makes claims about calories, calcium and fiber.
A guilt-free snack
Forget about advertising and read the Nutrition Facts food label. Per serving, a healthy snack should contain:
- More than one food group
- 250 calories or less
- little or no saturated fat
- no trans fat
- fewer than 400 milligrams of sodium
- as much fiber, vitamins and minerals as possible.
In addition, there should be no more than 8 grams of added sugar, but since added sugar and natural sugar are not listed separately on the food label, you have to read the ingredient list for words like “high fructose corn syrup“.
Of course, the best snacks come with modest packaging or none at all. Instead of snacking on wholesome food 61% of the time, let’s make it 100%. And snack only when you are actually hungry.
Here’s an interesting article about neuromarketing from The New York Times, Frito-Lay Tries to Enter the Minds (and Lunch bags) of Women
What is your favorite snack, packaged or not?