Tough love for good food

The truth about how to live healthier NOW in America.

What a month of food news and food articles. In the span of 4 weeks time we’ve read that: the famous olive oil laden Mediterranean diet will keep us heart healthier, though not pounds lighter; the American processed food industry has been scientifically formulating its crap to lure us into being junk food addicts (are we really surprised by this?); that overeating sugar is the true culprit behind type 2 diabetes, not obesity; that the rate of food allergy has doubled over the past decade, where

…there are now an estimated 5.9 million children in the United States with food allergies (along with another 2.3 million adults); to put it another way, in every classroom, roughly 1 in 13 children will have a food allergy. That number may rise in the future, as food allergies are now even more prevalent in children between 3 and 5 years old – nearly 1 in 10 preschoolers – and it seems as if children aren’t growing out of their allergies at the rate they did before. (March 10, 2013 The Allergy Buster, NY Times Magazine);

and now, that Whole Foods has finally joined the bandwagon alongside consumer right-to-know activists, and has announced it will have store wide labels specifying which products contain GMOs by…2018!?X*! WOO–HOO THIS IS PROGRESS (even though, according to Organic Consumers Association, in Europe Whole Foods already has such label identification).

However, right now I’m feeling fed-up with food talk and food problems. I know I’m supposed to be passionate about this subject, even a guiding light for some, but today…once again, I’m just ho-hum about it all.

I mean – we’ve got rampant food allergies – including gluten  and lactose intolerance – to the tune of a 100% increase in America within the past 10 years, and everyone can take a stab at the reasons why: our environment is polluted, our water is polluted, awful processed food is a normative way of American life, escalated antibiotic usage causing us compromised intestinal health, we’re subject to extensive vaccinations, GMOs in our food system, antibiotics fed to the animals whose flesh, eggs, or milk products we ingest – further depleting our intestines of healthy flora, we’re  disconnected from all things natural – we abhor good old fashioned dirt (which is poisoned anyway from herbicides), and are Purell-ed from head to toe, we’re sleep deprived, sun deprived, under-exercised, over-sugared, over-stimulated, hullo… what did I leave out? Oh – we are also medicated on pharmaceuticals for our depression, anxiety, insomnia, hyper active nervous systems, asthma, and diabetes.

So what really kills me on a day like today is that I feel impotent again, unable to figure out how to break through the barriers that keep others from knowing what I know is possible in the midst of all the complexities as stated above.

I just want to scream out against these words Michael Moss wrote in his new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us:

“But most of us can’t simply stop eating processed foods…We are still scrambling to get out the door in the morning in one piece, or to please picky eaters, or to put a decent dinner on the table without getting fired for leaving the office early.”

I realize that as GoodFoodWorld readers, you’re likely ahead of the curve in your everyday food choices compared to the average American. Still, we could all use a reminder now and again, and it’s especially valuable if we provide support for others or are catalysts for healthy change.  So please know that this is a general shout-out to “society” if it doesn’t apply directly to you. Here’s my solution:

  1. Unplug from the matrix from our normative screwed-up culture. You must be like a wild salmon and swim upstream wherever you live, more and more, as best as you can…by taking off the rose colored glasses and seeing that most of what has infiltrated our modern food system is highly processed garbage.                                                                                                                                                                                                 While all these foods may appear delicious, and just because they’re everywhere and everyone else is eating them, you must come to know they are not real FOOD and are not sustainable for your body or our planet!                                                                                                                                                                                       Understand that your mouth has been trained to want this food, to be entertained by and LOVE these flavors and think “real” food is tasteless and pales in comparison. I’m talking about those “foods” we buy found on 70% of our average supermarket shelves. Read the ingredient labels. Would you take what’s under your kitchen sink and feed it to your “picky child”…even if she or he screamed for it?
  2. Make it yourself; it doesn’t have to be labor intensive to satisfy!  Come on Michael Moss and America – YES WE CAN grow up and take care of ourselves. Real food satiates us, and knocks out our cravings for sugar. Take something from home before you “scramble out the door.” Grab whole foods and you’ve got a super healthy instant meal – on the go, at your desk, whenever you need it! Like what?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A hardboiled egg (takes 13 minutes to cook, 5 minutes at most to boil the water – do this while you shower, shave, or get dressed). Grab a banana or orange, a small handful of almonds or shelled sunflower seeds; or prepare a small container of cottage cheese or yogurt (plain, not pre-sweetened junk), with a little granola and sliced apple, banana, etc. This takes 5 minutes to prepare. How long does it take you to wait on line at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?                                                                                                                                                                 Of course, in order to bring food with you, it means that at some point you need to have gone shopping, but you don’t have to shop for a month’s worth of food at once. As often as possible, stay out of fast food joints that only add fuel to the fire.
  3. LOVE yourself every day and feel gratitude for your body that gives you life. Don’t wait for our government to love you and watch over your eating habits! (Read Flip the Switch On to jump start your self-care cross training process.)
  4. Upgrade along the Continuum   Employ the simple wisdom  (link to Wisdom to eat and live by) of quantity, quality and frequency for how to make better choices every time you eat. It doesn’t have to be the best choice to be better and an improvement. Don’t sabotage yourself and say if I can’t do it 100% why bother.
  5. Get enough sleep!  This one is scientifically proven. Without sufficient sleep (most adults need 6 – 8 hours a night – consistently) ALL of our resources are compromised and we crave fast and easy sugar to fuel our body. That’s a recipe for disaster.
  6. Move your body every day!  We all know this one. We’re not plants…we’re meant to move it! It doesn’t have to be a one hour class at the gym. Walk, take the stairs rather than the elevator, rake your own leaves, etc.
  7. Wait for a health crises to motivate you and wake you up. If you cannot manage any of these ideas, you can always carry on as usual and blame our culture for the shape you’re in.

The more each one of us unplugs from the mainstream highway of what our garbage culture wants to feed us, the faster it collapses as we build stronger alternative routes. We can do it, we must do it, for ourselves and for each other.