One fried chicken sandwich
Loads of simple carbs, with a few scattered nuts and seeds.
FREE at a local restaurant (before the main course, obviously)
A quick and easy to grab bag of chips
Two sugar glazed donuts
Buy one get one FREE
One stressed out American who craves the sugar buzz and “drug-like” feeling he gets form eating a piece of cake, but who actually chooses the apple because he knows it will make him feel better in the long run…
Today and Sunday I will focus my posts on some of the reasons why America is becoming so overweight and unhealthy. After reading this post you will see how it makes complete sense that 1/3 of Americans are overweight. And sadly, you will have no faith that the number will be declining any time soon.
Where do I begin? Let’s start with the state of our economy. Let’s face it, we are all struggling with money issues in some way or another. When we don’t have money to pay for things we need ( and for other, things we want…) this causes stress. Stress unfortunately has a negative effect on our hormones, which then causes sadness, depression, anxiety, and thus more stress. This stress isn’t just mental, as it takes a physical toll on our bodies as well. When stress hormones are released we crave carbohydrates and sugar, our insulin spikes which causes this craving to get even greater, and most Americans do exactly the opposite of what they should do; they eat CRAP! Who’s to blame them? People like myself can tell someone to eat whole fruits, veggies, and grains in stressful situations to make themselves feel better, but often times this advice just gets ignored. Is it the person’s fault? Sure, we all should take responsibility for our own actions, I can’t argue that, but let’s face it, our society does NOTHING to help!
Kelly Brownell, a professor of psychology at Yale University, did an article with the authors of Nutrition Action Healthletter. The following points are from his interview, and from my own experiences living here in America.
- Our food environment is toxic. Let’s face it, everywhere we go there is food. And not just any food, but unhealthy food. And when you see healthy foods on rare occasions, they are almost always more expensive then their healthier counterparts. Can you blame the companies selling them? Nope. If they want to make a profit, they have to sell healthy fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains for more money, as they pay more money for them!
- Value meals and deals are everywhere. Why buy the small slushy when you can get a “mega-gulp” for just fifty cents more? And that’s no joke. The other day I was in the store and heard an obese 5 year old ask her mother for a slushy. Her mom told her to buy the extra large because it was only fifty cents more. I almost cried. The women should take more responsibility for the health of her young daughter, yes, but when everyone is all about getting more for their money, this is just going to start happening more and more. Not only that but the mother was obese herself, therefore her daughter has a slim chance of ever learning how to eat healthy unless her mother starts learning herself (which again, is her responsibility). It’s a domino effect.
- Everything is at our service. The invention of the drive-thru started it all. Thousands of years ago we had to hunt and gather our food all day, yet today we don’t even have to get out of our precious cars to grab a bite to eat? How pathetic. Not only that, but they even sell candy bars at Lowe’s. Food is EVERYWHERE.
- It’s all about responsibility, or is it? You will often hear people say that the government shouldn’t get involved with food companies or initiatives to change ingredients and laws to limit items being sold. The argument is that people should be responsible for their own health. I agree, but not 100%. I mean, do you really think people are less responsible now, than they were 20 years ago? I don’t. It’s just so much more difficult to be responsible when unhealthy food is everywhere we go, stress follows us everywhere, and false information of “hope” is at our service (think fad diets and supplements that promise weight loss but which only end up making you more unhealthy).
- It’s more difficult for someone to lose weight, and keep it off, than it is for someone who is already a normal weight to stay that weight. Why? When you lose weight your metabolism slows down. Someone who loses weight will have to continuously eat less to keep their weight off, compared to someone who hasn’t lost weight but who is the same weight as the person who has lost and is trying to maintain. So what? The more people out there who gain weight and then try to lose is makes for a society of people who may be desperate for a quick fix and unhealthy diet practices. This is why so many companies make so much money selling their fad diets and products. It’s all a scam that ends up hurting, rather than helping people in the long run.
- Sugar is addicting. Some studies show that sugar has some of the same powerful effects on our brain as drugs and alcohol. Now that it is being added to just about every single thing we eat, it’s clear to me why people become addicted to sugar (and really, food in general. Studies have shown the combination of fat, sugar, and salt is very addicting). At first all it takes is a little sugar, but over time you will need more sugar in order to reap the same “positive” effects.
- Schools are allowed to sell junk. I do think the school lunch program needs reviewed, but most importantly there needs to be something done to prevent schools from selling candy and soda outside of lunch, and even during lunch, for extra money. It’s fine if they want to sell food to make money, but there needs to be some laws that prevent them from selling non-nutritive foods, which cause kids to be addicted to sugar starting at such a young age.
*** Yes, the picture of the fried chicken sandwich above was Nick’s, and in fact I had one too. Is there anything wrong with that? No. We paired them with a nice salad and an apple! And, we don’t eat them everyday. I am not against eating junk, I eat some junk everyday! I also don’t look down at people who eat junk, and I never will. The point of this post is to send the message to someone (I don’t know who), that our society needs to make some serious changes. They did it with cigarettes, can’t food be next?! ***