There was a lot of windshield time between Lake Placid and Neenah. LOTS of windshield time.
At times, during moments of silence (80’s music on Sirius not included), I’d glance over at my husband and ask him what he was thinking about. The things he was thinking about were most definitely not the things I was thinking about. Not by a long shot. Rear axels? Really?
Not me. I was still mulling over some of the information I read in Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules. (I promise, this will be my last “ranty” post. At least until I get worked up about something else, anyway.)
This time it’s the Western diet that has me perplexed. And no, the Western diet has nothing to do with cowboys. I’m referring to a diet consisting of processed foods and meats, added fats and sugars, processed grains, and very little fruits and vegetables. This just so happens to be the diet of many Americans.
According to Pollan, “virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and more than 1/3 of all cancers are related to this (Western) diet.”
Dang! Are those numbers for real? Not that I didn’t believe Michael, but it’s always good to do a little research of your own. I used my good 6th grade researching skills and went to work.
One article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, explored the consequences of following the Western diet. The article concurred with Pollan: diet was the major reason so many Americans have chronic diseases. 64 million have heart disease, 37 million have high blood pressure, and 11 million have type 2 diabetes.
Other articles discussed the possible relationship between the Western diet and autoimmune diseases.
Now that’s what I was mulling over on our way home. Not rear axels.
Most people know the health benefits of eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Most people know the consequences of eating processed foods. Most people know the repercussions of eating foods that are full of added fats and sugars.
Yet we keep eating them. Why?
This is what I came up with:
Foods high in added sugar, fat, and salt cater to your taste buds. Plus, we are overpowering our tastebuds with chemicals and additives. We no longer know what real food even taste like.
Some foods cause your blood sugar to spike, then crash, making you want to eat more.
Ever binge on broccoli? I didn’t think so.
Ever eat one serving of potato chips? Yeah. I’ve tried. Never succeeded however.
Need a Diet Coke to get your day started?
We focus on what we look like on the outside, rather than what we look like on the inside. Calories are king. Never mind the nutritional value of the food we are eating, and what it is doing to our heart or liver. Give me those 100 calorie snacks and Healthy You frozen dinners. They don’t have a lot of calories so they must be good for me.
Think about the last time you watched TV. Or read a magazine. Or passed a billboard. Not a whole lot of ads for fruits, vegetables, or whole grains. Too bad their marketing budget isn’t as big as that of the fast food industry.
Processed/junk food is cheaper to buy. (Damn subsidized ingredients.) Yes, buying real, whole food can be expensive. But so is medication.
Perception of healthy
Sometimes we think a food is healthy. Take Yoplait yogurt, for example. Ever look at the ingredient label? Not only does it contain high fructose corn syrup, and aspartame, but it has a bunch of chemicals as well.
Granola bars? Nature Valley Peanut Butter granola bars may have whole grains, but they also contain added oils, soy protein, and yep…more high fructose corn syrup.
Many of my students start the year feeling that fruit snacks are a healthy snack. I love showing them an ingredient label and asking them to identify the product.
Preparing real food takes time. You even have to wash a few dishes. Popping a frozen pizza in the oven doesn’t even require you to use a fork. (Unless your are one of those kind of people. )
So there you have it. But now, what to do about it. How can you make a difference and not become a statistic of the Western diet?