In Dekit’s seventh issue Come we interviewed many views on food and consumable products. Nicola Gallagher is an artist based in Dublin, Ireland who offers another view on fast food. In her interview she describes how she views fast food and the effects it can create inside the mind and body.
The image of the Coca-Cola bag as an IV in someone’s arm is very intriguing. An IV is usually associated with medicine and healing, yet soda is very damaging to the body. Do you see unhealthy foods being used as a kind of medicine to try to treat emotional troubles; such as sadness, loneliness, and longing?
I think many people self medicate with food. Eating junk food can feel comforting when you’re feeling low, insecure, lonely, or even just bored. But that feeling of comfort is only temporary, and you will soon find yourself self medicating again when negative thoughts/feelings return. The IV image also relates to a health risk associated with particular soft drinks and junk food; cancer. There are certain carcinogenic artificial colors used in some food and beverages that are associated with causing cancer. I wanted to highlight this issue as I don’t believe a lot of people are aware of some of the harmful ingredients used by popular brands.
Even though most people know that fast food and candy are unhealthy for them, they eat it anyway because of the way it tastes and how it makes them feel happy in that moment. Why do you believe that a brief moment of bliss is enough to forget about the disastrous health issues to come later in life?
I think many people tend to ignore negative consequences in life if they aren’t instantaneous. While heart disease, diabetes and cancer, etc., are all very real health complications associated with an unhealthy diet many don’t believe that it will happen to them. Ignorance is bliss.
Fast food is cheap to buy, readily available at all hours of the day and night, and convenient to eat when in a hurry. What needs to be done to stop people from partaking in this habit? How does your artwork help with this epidemic?
I would suggest mandatory full ingredient lists and nutritional value labels on all food and beverage products so people would know how much fat, sugar and salt, etc., is in each product. I would also suggest advertisements and campaigns feature similar warnings and important nutritional information. This would enable people to make an informed choice when choosing what they want to put into their bodies. I hope if people had this vital information available to them at point of sale, there would be a decrease in sales of fast food and soft drinks and this would lead eventually to a decrease in obesity and diet-related diseases. My posters highlight the deception that is present in the junk food industry and also harsh facts about the consequences of eating this way. Obesity, cancer, food addiction, tooth decay, and heart disease are all byproducts of an unhealthy lifestyle and need to be highlighted more in todays society.
You mention the rates of obesity for Irish children and adults. What challenges are there in Ireland for unhealthy consumption that might not be anywhere else?
Fast food has become a part of modern day food culture in many countries and Ireland is no different. An increase in fast food outlets and the introduction of new fast food franchises in recent times has only worsened the obesity problem we have in Ireland. As this industry expands, so do our waistbands.
Food can be seen as an addiction. It can be over consumed the same way a person can overdose on drugs. What do you think can be done to curb overeating and essentially ‘rehabilitate’ those addicted to food?
I think many people’s food addiction is closely correlated with insecurities and a lacking in self confidence. Food can be comforting. Some may overeat in an attempt to make themselves feel better. This overeating can lead to obesity which can lower a persons self-esteem and diminish all self confidence. I see obesity as not just physical weight but also a manifestation of psychological weight. In regard to a solution? It is easy to say, “Just cut out the fast food” or “Go to the gym more often” but when a body is used to consuming so much sugar or fat it can experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can lead to stress and cause a vicious cycle of turning back to unhealthy food to deal with these negative feelings. I think the best way to wean oneself off an unhealthy diet is to make small changes at first and over time cut out most junk food. However, I do think a cheat day is really important (everything in moderation). Also, I don’t think the gym is for everyone. A dance class or joining a sports team might suit some better. Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference over time!
To see more of Nicola Gallagher’s work follow her on Instagram and Behance:
To read our current issue: 7 Come(Eat) click here!