It’s no secret that Americans are unhealthy. We’re overweight, overstressed and overmedicated, and our rate of disease is staggering. Our grandparents didn’t obsess over their food and avoided many of the medical concerns we deal with today. What’s up with that?
Well, a lot, actually. This has been an area of interest for me for several years, and, while it would be easier to let everyone cut through the crap and the controversies by themselves, I wanted to add my own bits of encouragement to the madness.
I promise, we have plenty to be encouraged about when it comes to our food.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. Not even close. But, as I frequently say, we’re all in this together. I know without a doubt that I’m my own worst enemy, and I need you to help me navigate, just as I believe you need me. And, sweet mercy, we all need Jesus!
The last time we talked about diet and nutrition, I revealed that my reader survey results surprised me a bit. The surprise wasn’t that diet and nutrition was the No. 1 topic of interest but that the responses were unanimous. (Well … until my husband’s answer screwed up the perfect score. Two factors there: Bruce doesn’t struggle with obesity – he’s underweight – and he didn’t vote until I was compiling the results and told him he had to. 🙂 Also, diet and nutrition got his No. 2 vote.)
Since I started putting pounds on my hips – and, later, other parts of my midsection – at about age 30, I’ve done a ton of reading on food, nutrition, weight loss and health. If you’ve struggled with it for any length of time, you probably have, too (especially if you’re female).
If you’ve read more than one article or book, you no doubt have run up against two or more opinions on what makes us healthy, unhealthy, fat, skinny or something in between.
AND IT’S CONFUSING!
And maddening. And frustrating.
It makes you want to cry or throw up or, at the very least, just throw down the book and eat an entire pint of Häagen-Dazs right out of the carton. I mean, seriously, who scoops ice cream from a pint container into a bowl to eat it? (If you have, please share your experience with the rest of us.)
(Interesting fact: spellcheck didn’t flag Häagen-Dazs just now, meaning: I spelled it correctly the first time. Which totally speaks to the fact that I’m a former copy editor and not at all that I’ve had a lot of experience eating the chocolate-chocolate chip variety of this brand of ice cream. I’m just sayin’.)
A few “facts” I’ve discovered in my years of research:
- Fat is bad for you.
- Fat is good for you.
- Cholesterol is bad for you.
- Cholesterol is good for you.
- Reducing calories is the way to lose weight.
- Calories are not all created equal.
- Oreos are God’s way of showing His love for us (this one is indisputably true – I’ve done extensive research).
No wonder we’re cray-cray about what to do at mealtime.
I, for one, am ready to cut the crap and start digging down to the root(s) of our problem.
So … because I’m a “bottom line” kind of gal and I promised you some encouragement, here are two things to help you RELAX:
- Despite all the conflicting advice and the multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns that only serve to confuse rather than clarify, you can do a few things to start healing (and losing weight, if you need to). It starts with GUT HEALTH.
Fun fact: Did you know that scientists refer to the gut as our “second brain”? (We’ll find out why in the next installment. If you already know, feel free to tell us in the comments.)
- Of the dozens of books I’ve read, I have some recommendations, plus a documentary based on one of the books. Here are two of the books:
Passionate Nutrition: A Guide to Using Food as Medicine from a Nutritionist Who Healed Herself from the Inside Out by Jennifer Adler. Except for one section of the book that I could’ve done without, I love this book for its balanced approach to eating. Bottom line: Don’t obsess over nutrients or restrict certain food groups; instead, use “food as medicine” to heal your body and live a passionate life that allows you to enjoy food in moderation.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by journalist Michael Pollan. If you’d rather watch a documentary based on the book, rent or buy it here. Both are excellent, as is everything I’ve seen from Pollan.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I sure thought I had watched a documentary based on this book, but I must have been thinking of Food, Inc. Pollan is interviewed in the documentary, but it’s not based on his book. If you want to get FED UP, watch that video. (It has made me seriously consider becoming a vegetarian – and stop eating corn.) If you want to stick with our theme of encouraging info, skip the documentary for now! 🙂
What is the No. 1 question you would like to have answered with this series of articles?