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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Six Reasons We're Not Eating Healthier

Here is WebMD's 6 Reasons Americans Aren't Eating Healthier:

1. Calories
2. Diet and Exercise
3. Breakfast
4. Fats
5. Carbohydrates
6. "Functional" Foods

I'd like to offer my own 6 reasons why we're not healthier, basing them on those from WebMD.
1. We focus on calories, instead of food: 1000 calories from Twinkies is not the same as 1000 calories from lettuce, which isn't the same as 1000 calories from chicken. If you think it is, I suggest some reading on the role of insulin in fat storage.
2. We consider walking to be exercise: One day, less than a century ago, walking was transportation. Now it's exercise. People walk around the block and call it being "physically active". Walking is a great start for those that are inactive, but lets stop acting like walking is going to keep people healthy. Your heart rate should go up to where there is some difficulty talking.
3. We are convinced that breakfast is different from the other meals: Post and General Mills have convinced us that breakfast needs to be sweet. We feed our kids enriched Sugar Bombs and Pop Tarts before stopping off at Starbucks for a Sugar-ccino and sugarberry muffin. Eat a real breakfast of eggs and bacon. Or eat last night's leftovers. Breakfast doesn't have to be a grainy, sugary mess that sends your blood sugar skyrocketing so that you're starving again 2 hours before lunchtime.
4. We are convinced that some types of fat are bad for us: Especially that dastardly saturated fat. Get your fat from nuts and olive, coconut, and palm oils. And if you eat grassfed meats, dig into the fat in them too. Saturated fat isn't a killer. The polyunsaturated fats that we're told to eat just may be though (three cheers for immunosuppression!). I really love when some well-meaning, but misguided nutritionist lumps trans fats in with saturated fats, or worse says that trans fats are the same as saturated fats. But that is the nonsense that the American Heart Association continues to push, regardless of all evidence to the contrary.
5. Somehow, we listen to people that tell us to eat more grains than produce: Our government bases its Pyramid on grains. Dieticians are constantly touting the benefits of whole grains. Get your carbohydrates from unprocessed produce, like fruits, vegetables, tubers, and squashes. Grains are an alien food to the human body, having been consumed in quantity for about 10,000 years. There is absolutely nothing in a grain that isn't found in a fruit or vegetable without all of the nastiness that comes with grains like lectins and phytates.
6. We expect food manufacturers to give us healthful foods: This whole "functional" foods craze drives me nuts. Real food is already functional. Meat, eggs, seafood, produce, and nuts are about as functional as it gets. And they don't need a colorful package with Spongebob Squarepants on them and bright red banners telling us how good they are for us. Food manufacturers will add whatever they can to a product to make it a) cheaper and b) more attractive to your health-consciousness. Profit, profit, profit is the motivation of these companies.
7. We listen to the media rather than listening to our bodies: This one is a bonus. The media cares about stories, not truth. One day it's "Low Fat Diet Cures Cancer" and the next we hear "Low Carb Diet Knows the Last Digit of Pi". Stop changing your diet everytime Regis Philbin, Oprah, Kiran Chetry, or some other "news" host unveils the next big diet breakthrough. There is nothing new in the world of eating! People have been eating the right way for hundreds of thousands of years. If you eat real food, your body will tell you what, and how much, to eat. Cut the processed junk. Stick to food without nutrition labels.

It boils down to listening to your body. Ditch the food products. Eat real food, that which is grown, not manufactured. Stop dieting and just change your lifestyle. Eat the original low-carb diet, based on fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of meat, eggs, and seafood. Ditch the grains and replace them with produce. Your body will thank you.