I’m going to forewarn you. Today’s post is a hot button issue for me, and one I haven’t delved too deeply into since I get excited, and not always in a good way.
What you eat can kill you.
Now for the opinion part. I think there are a lot of reasons for our predicament, including but not limited to personal decisions. Obviously, we all have a choice, and unfortunately 68% of us are making the wrong one. I’ve struggled with understanding why, and then I realized people aren’t making the connection between the food they eat and their health. Yeah sure, they know the donut, the soft drink, the fast food, the processed food isn’t great for them, but killing them, no way. That’s a bit much, but the truth is, it is killing them and harming them, slowly.
I have a good friend who is 100 lbs overweight. She wears it pretty well, and I never would have guessed she was so overweight if she hadn’t shared the info with me herself. She works full-time, is the mother of three teenagers, and eats fast food 5 to 6 times a week. Sometimes, she has tightness in chest, and swollen ankles, which she attributes to standing on her feet for long periods of time. We have a pretty good relationship, which allows me to be very candid with her. We’ve discussed how her weight could be responsible for the tightness in her chest and the swelling in her ankles, but she doesn’t really believe the two are connected. She told me about a friend of hers who is so overweight she has trouble breathing. This same friend has cancer, and neither her or her friend see a connection between the weight and the cancer. Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, check out this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/weight-loss-cancer_n_1468213.html which says, “Being overweight or obese is linked with increased risk of many cancers; an estimated 1 out of every 3 cancer deaths in the U.S. is linked to excess weight or inactivity.”
Sadly, my friend is not alone when it comes to missing the connection between her daily food choices and her health issues. Think about it this way. What comes to mind when you think of cigarettes? Cancer right. Do you have the same strong gut reaction when you see french fries or soda? Do you think Heart Disease or Diabetes? Probably not.
If your response is, “one french fry isn’t going to give me heart disease,” then I agree, just as one cigarette won’t give you cancer. The problem is people aren’t just eating one french fry; 68% of us are eating them pretty regularly. Imagine if there was a surgeon general’s warning affixed to these types of foods. “This increases your chances for Heart Disease, Stroke, Hypertension, Diabetes and in general will make you feel sluggish and depressed,” or “Quitting these Foods Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.” That might wake you up, and hopefully make you think twice about consuming them. In order for things to change, people need to start seeing how their unhealthy food choices impact their health.
Side note: this is about health and wellness, not vanity. You can look good, but if you don’t feel good, it means nothing. And if you are overweight, chances are you’ve had some health issues (headaches, depression) whether you’ve realized they can be attributed to the excess weight or not. Check out this chart. Have you ever had any of these issues? Look at how dramatically your health could improve if you decided to ditch the fat.
95% improvement in quality of life. That’s a pretty fantastic number and one I would think hard about before dismissing. So I’ve gone into just one reason why there is an obesity epidemic in the US, and there are a host of other reasons (false advertising, dirty marketing, excessive costs of organics, cheap, poor quality food), but I’ve ranted long enough for one day. So I’m going to step off my soap box now and move onto happier topics.
My spring / summer CSA program starts this week, and I couldn’t be more excited. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which means I buy a “share” in the local farms (supporting regional farmers, yeah!), and in return for purchasing said share, I get fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables delivered to a specified pickup location every week. My location just happens to be adjacent to where I work, so it couldn’t be easier. This is my second summer involved with a CSA, and the only down side is they don’t have one in the winter. Apparently, it’s hard to grow a large variety of vegetables in Ohio during the winter. Snow and ice tend to kill plants.
Starting this week and each week for the next 20 weeks, I’ll pick up my fruits and veggies with eager anticipation (picture a little puppy wiggling his whole body because he is so excited) because you never know what you’re going to get on any given week. It’s like being a little kid at Christmas. Your share is made up of whatever is being harvested that week, so the weeks to come are going to be an adventure as I try to figure out how to use all the good and sometimes unusual (Kohlrabi anyone?) produce I receive. I can hardly wait, and I hope you tag along for my CSA adventures this summer.