I’m not a judgmental person. I’m fully supportive of everyone doing as they please, so long as they aren’t putting others at harm. However, I always feel a bit conflicted when people unknowingly harm themselves based on false advertising. One of the most evident examples of this is the standard American diet.
Over the last five years, give or take, the “big is beautiful” and “sexy at any size” campaigns have exploded. I’m not on social media and I don’t visit shopping malls, yet I have still seen my share of larger ladies contorted into awkward yoga poses on the covers of magazines at the doctor’s office.
I’ve studied nutrition. Big can be beautiful, but it’s not healthy.
One of my boyfriend’s childhood friends is morbidly obese. The man is in his late-30s and requires total knee replacement. Apparently, this is becoming more common.
I worry about people who aren’t taking care of their bodies. I suspect it’s one of four things: 1) they haven’t learned what constitutes a nutritional diet, 2) they have a mental block that prohibits them from carrying out their desire to eat better, 3) they have a metabolic or endocrine issue that needs to be medically addressed, or 4) the media has brainwashed them into believing junk food satisfies all the body’s dietary needs. That last one is the real killer.
What prompted me to hop up on to my soapbox? Well, I just saw an article from NPR chastising the U.S. diet and offering ideas to help people eat better. I couldn’t help but scoff. Not at the article, which was decent, or the idea of promoting better health, but at the deterioration of food guidance over the last century. And the desperate need for a 180° change of course.
A Depression-era rationing poster, issued by the U.S. Food Administration in 1917, hangs in my kitchen. It reads:
- buy it with thought
- cook it with care
- use less wheat & meat
- buy local foods
- serve just enough
- use what is left
don’t waste it.
My grandparents and great-grandparents lived through the Depression era. They adhered to the 1917 guidelines, and they lived long and healthy lives. I believe this list is just as relevant today as century ago and, quite likely, more important than ever.
Contrast that to the food pyramid released by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1992, when my peers and I were young children. We were advised to eat unlimited amounts of bread and pastas, while limiting sources of proteins and healthy fats.
The average American today is not living a long and healthy life. Society is plagued by obesity, anxiety, heart disease, depression, cancer, developmental delays, autoimmune disease, and numerous other emergent ailments. We were misled. But it’s not too late to turn to the research and understand what truly constitutes a healthy diet.
I’ve shared before that I became very sick in 2015 when I developed both a fungal infection and bacterial pneumonia in my lungs. I saw no improvement until I further refined my already well-rounded diet in 2019 to remove all inflammogens, such as grains, sugars, starchy vegetables, and alcohol. Had I been eating processed meats, vegetable oils, and fried foods, those would have had to go too. It’s no exaggeration to say that altering my diet changed, if not saved, my life.
While I appreciate what NPR is suggesting in their article–subsidizing foods scientifically proven to work as medicine, incentivizing purchasing produce through SNAP food assistance, and expanding dietary counseling–it flies directly in the face of the “big is beautiful movement.” The average American isn’t going to adopt a healthier diet if the so-called “science” and the media keep repeating that one can be fit and healthy while simultaneously obese. Few will trade pizza and alcohol for spinach and cod when they believe that nutritionally there is no difference.
So, what’s the solution here? I think we need to be sending out a consistent message. Yes, you are still beautiful while carrying the extra baby weight, treating hypothyroidism, or working to overcome depression! But, at the same time, you should make it a goal to gradually replace one meal at a time with something a bit healthier. Many people who regularly eat pasta and fried chicken don’t even realize they are doing their body a disservice. “A calorie is a calorie,” they say. But it’s not. We need to educate the populous.
Big pharma and the medical system are greedily lining their pockets as people medically treat diseases that could have been remedied by a healthy diet. One of my most helpful physicians used to work for the FDA, but left due to the corruption. Kickbacks were more important than that health of citizens. The government is not concerned with your health and well-being, so we each need to take ownership of our nutritional input.
Yes, healthy food can be expensive. But, the way I see it, we either pay the cost now at the grocery store or we pay the healthcare system for the consequences of our diet later. Personally, I want to optimize my lifespan and healthspan, so I’m paying up front.