“We Americans suffer a national eating disorder; our unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. The irony is; the one diet we have invented for ourselves- the Western diet – is the one that makes us sick.”
The Role of Food in Our Lives
Food plays an important role in an individual’s life, as it is required for the survival of a human being and the nourishment of the body and mind. However, in modern times, people have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. With that being said, they use (or abuse) it as a means of entertainment and comfort to ward off boredom, or to combat a feeling of discontent, or emptiness in their lives. As a result, most people are engaged in continuous warfare against their bodies by binging on food or by resorting to extreme diets which leads to detrimental health issue such as obesity, or eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Foods have simply become containers of “nutrients”; “Cholesterol-free”, “Fat Free”, or “Healthy” on a label has become to imply this food item is healthy. The problem is, we’re focusing on the invisible known molecules and forgetting about the actual food itself. These days, healthy eating is in the territory of the experts in the white coats who work in labs and inform the public about what to eat. This information comes to us through the media and advertising. Both the food science and media are funded primarily by the food industry.
Nowadays, eating is not an act of giving the body nourishment, but rather something to feel full, as fast as possible. Mindless eating has led to the development of a fast food culture that makes it impossible for us to keep track of how much we eat. At the end of the day, you may even struggle to recall what you put in your body. Over time, you may find yourself gaining weight without really knowing why, leading to an epidemic of obesity and lifestyle diseases like heart disease, IBS, diabetes, celiac disease, allergies, and the list goes on. These diseases are easy to prevent, yet so difficult to tackle.
“The stomach is the home of disease and self-control is the starting point of the cure”
America has some of the best medical and healthcare professionals in the world and the unhealthiest people who are in a constant state of dis-ease (not at ease), it doesn’t add up. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why is it that people are constantly in a state of dis-ease?
- Does it make sense that the more food we consume – advertized as healthy, the un-healthier we get?
- Is it possible that the constantly changing Recommendation Dietary Allowance (RDA) for health and the approach to weight management and health is promoting the wrong kinds of foods and portions?
The foods that are promoted are highly processed, sugar laden, de-mineralized, hard to digest foods, which have been scientifically altered and manipulated from its origin form (GMO’s or Genetically Modified Organisms). Can you imagine what it’s doing inside of you? One thing’s for sure, it doesn’t digest properly, and it is well agreed on that dis-ease (including excess weight) begins in the digestive system (the gut).
New Foods Addictions
The foods people eat today – new foods – don’t resemble the foods consumed before the 1900’s. In his book, The End of Overeating, David Kessler, provides an interesting look behind the scenes of food design. Here’s a look behind the curtain; the reasons some foods are so addictive in the first place:
- Science and psychology have been used to make many of today’s foods appear healthier than they are.
- Marketed “foods” subconsciously calls your name.
- These “foods” have ingredients that keep you from feeling full until you’ve eaten in excess.
- The combination of salt, fat and sugar found in processed foods trigger your brain to crave them, much the same way one becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.
When people say they can’t stop eating something, it may be true that they really can’t stop eating.
In order for you to crave foods, it takes added salt, fat, sugar, and addictive hidden ingredients (natural flavors). These foods are designed to go down easy, with just a few chews, so it feels like you haven’t eaten as much. It’s not common to have strong cravings for plain- whole foods (with no salt added) such as meats or dairy products, and plain vegetables; fruit being the exception.
The ingredients in new foods are designed to provide satisfaction and make you crave more. It would be very difficult to eat 4,000 calories of lean meat, vegetables and fruit. However, it’s easy to consume that many calories without realizing it when the food is processed for you.
Why You Should Stop Eating New Foods, Even in Moderation
Having a small amount of an addictive food causes something much like the response when an alcoholic has just one taste of alcohol. Addiction to foods such as chips, crackers, sweets and coffee has a lot to do with how they make you feel. And the more you rely on certain foods to create those feelings, the stronger the addiction becomes.
How to Gain Control of Your Health and Weight
Foods you see advertised on television do little to control hunger and often result in overeating. Eating smaller, more frequent meals helps to control hunger and avoid overeating. The key to these small frequent meals is avoiding any and all processed foods that are so effectively marketed for snacking. Eating frequently can help avoid excess hunger, but what about those foods that seems to call your name day after day?
Kessler offers these four steps to reverse the habits of overeating:
- Be aware. Simply understanding that there are foods that have some control over you is an important first step.
- Avoid temptation. The next step is avoiding situations that tempt you to eat those foods. It may mean driving a different route to avoid a certain restaurant, not eating on a full stomach, or grocery shopping with a friend or family member who will hold you accountable. It may also be necessary to stop buying processed foods for other family members. If they’re not good for you, they’re not good for them either.
- Understand temptation. Accept that you may not be able to have “just one bite.” Understand that you won’t reach your nutritional goals and that you may increase your health risks by eating those foods.
- Find support. Seek out other people with similar goals and challenges. You’ll have much better success controlling cravings and managing your weight with people who are going through the same thing. And beware of friends or family members who don’t care about what they eat or the shape they’re in. They can quickly cause you to sabotage your plan.
With so many diets and fads out there, you will not be introduced to a new one, however you will be introduced to a new thought provoking question; how can eating processed food; low-fat, high-carb, high-sugar food be good for you if it has not always been around? This course will answer that question.
Diets Don’t Work
There is much confusion as to what constitutes the characteristics of Healthy Diets. There are many popular diets:
Vegan, Raw Vegan, Raw Foods, Fruitarian, Vegetarian, Low-carb/High Protein, Alkaline Diet, The Zone Diet, Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet, South Beach, and so on. You will find people that swear by these diets and some who can’t stick to them long enough to find out. And that’s the problem with diets; when you look at it as just that, it is hard to finish and then not end up right back where you started. Dieting is a temporary solution, not a life change. When you do find what works for you, stick with it; make it a lifelong commitment and habit.
The Low-Fat Craze
Scientists have been advocating low animal fat diets for about the same amount of time as we have seen a dramatic uprising in the rate of heart disease and diabetes. The “low fat” craze began with researchers funded by the processed food industry. Unfortunately, it’s cheaper for a manufacturer to sell a tub of chemicals instead of butter; it comes down to profit.
In the 1970’s, a document called Dietary Goals for the United States, the first official government dietary recommendations were published blaming a diet high in fat for weight and heart related issues and media and food industry pushed the nutritional low fat guidelines. As a result, a low-fat diet was established as the healthiest way to eat and people began paying more attention to the calories they were eating. The document highlighted the need to increase carbohydrate consumption and decrease fat intake.
If a low-fat diet is the answer, then why is it that we are seeing an epidemic of obesity in America today; especially those who are following the advice of eating low-fat? Some doctors would blame genetics, but Mark Hyman, M.D. wrote an interesting article, he believes that obesity is NOT a genetic problem, but rather a cultural problem; the quantity (of calories) obsession have over thrown the quality (the source). A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by Dr. Hayman points out that a careful review of all the studies on dietary fat and body fat; such as those done by Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that dietary fat (the natural form) is not a major determinant of body fat.
Caloric Intake and Counting Calories
While some people live by the amount of daily calorie intake, some find it too difficult and end up giving up or doing it wrong, and with good reason; it’s not a natural way to live and can be very stressful and counter-productive, leading to giving up and quitting the dieting altogether.
It’s better to track portions and portion size. You are capable of being an intuitive eater with practice; if you are conscious of your hunger signals and have learn to stop eating when you start to feel full, you can do it. It’s more important to know the difference between real hunger and cravings, then be mindful of how you eat.
If you avoid refined and processed new foods, including white flour and sugar you generally don’t have to count calories. Stick with nutrient-dense foods, whole foods, healthy fats, vegetables, naturally sweet foods (such as fruits and honey) and plenty of water; this course will help you to decide how much your body needs without having to track calories.