The fitness and nutrition industry is confusing. There are so many different ways to exercise and to eat that it’s no wonder that we are all just confused. Should I exercise more, eat less, count calories, drink shakes, join Weight Watchers…and the list goes on and on. I’ve already written an entire post on why I hate the word diet and why they don’t work long-term. You can read all about that here. As I was finishing my last nutrition lesson before the end of school, I found myself summarizing the entire unit for the kids; I wanted them to leave class with one take-away message. I said to them “if you remember nothing from this unit except for one thing, I want you to remember that the best thing you can do for your health is to greatly reduce your processed food consumption. Remember that the food industry’s number one goal is to make money by getting us addicted to their food. Their priority is not our health.”
As soon as class was over and I had a few minutes to think, I immediately thought that this simple approach that I used with my students would be perfect as a post. If I had to pick only 1 thing for someone to focus on to improve their health, hands down it would be to considerably reduce processed food consumption.
I finally saw the documentary “Fed Up” this week. A few weeks ago, a student asked me if I’d seen it. I hadn’t even heard about it at the time but I thought it sounded pretty cool based on the description. A few weeks later one of my friends posted online that he saw the movie, loved it, and thought it should be required viewing for everyone. Required viewing for everyone-that definitely piqued my interest & motivated me to find out what this documentary was all about. All I had to do was watch the trailer and I was hooked. I HAD to see this movie!
The Obesity Epidemic
It’s really hard trying to teach my students that fat does not make you fat but sugar does. We have all been so brainwashed by the low-fat/high carb mainstream “nutrition” education that it’s no wonder we are all so confused. The take-away message of the whole documentary was that it’s wrong to blame the individual for becoming obese because the foods that we are told to eat are not only unhealthy but they are addictive as well. My heart ached as I watched the obese children in the video crying because they thought they were doing everything right; they were exercising more and “eating healthy” and still they were unable to lose weight. They were hungry, confused, desperate, and felt like failures; I wanted to scream “it’s not your fault!” the entire time. The mother in me and the nutrition teacher in me wanted to jump through the screen, give them a hug, and teach them the right way to eat. At that moment I was validated; my job is the most important job in the world; I teach children how to be healthy.
To say that I loved this movie would be putting it mildly. A few times I caught myself before yelling at the screen. It was really hard to watch a 12 year-old morbidly obese boy cry about his inability to lose weight one minute and see him eat some processed reduced fat chips thinking he was making a good choice the next.
Here are some sobering statistics & facts I learned:
- 80% of the 600,000 food products in America have added sugar.
- Your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroin.
- This is the first generation of American children expected to lead shorter lives than their parents.
- Over 95% of Americans will be overweight or obese in 2 decades.
- The sugar industry is extraordinarily powerful. They’re in business to make money, not to keep America healthy.
- By 2050 1/3 of Americans will have diabetes.
Let that sink in for a minute. Reread those stats and really let it percolate….OVER 95% OF AMERICANS WILL BE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE IN 20 YEARS. What?! That’s like almost everyone! Do we really think that the government is doing a bang-up job at telling us what and how to eat? Considering that 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese now and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese I would say that the answer is a big fat no. (source) This reminds me of a post I wrote a while ago called “Paleo…could it be for you?” Granted I have been leaning away from calling how I eat Paleo and calling it what it is-a diet that focuses on nutrient dense whole foods. But this post was about opening your mind to something new; that if what you are currently doing isn’t working out for you then you need to try something new.
So how do you do it? How do you ensure that you and your family do not become statistics? Quite simply…start eating real food, that’s it. I don’t pedal special diet plans, programs, supplements, shakes, pills, etc. I don’t make any money based on what you do or do not buy. All I ask you to do is make the majority of your food whole & unprocessed with no labels. If you do buy processed food, make it the best choice possible. Read labels and look at ingredients. Do you recognize all the ingredients? Does the ingredient list read like a science experiment? I also wrote a post that went over the fundamentals in label reading; it’s how I teach it to my 7th graders. I also give you a pretty yummy recipe for chocolate topped protein bars.
I hope this helps and gives you the motivation to really take a look at what foods are in your house and what foods your family has access to under your roof. If you are looking for help in how to ease your way into a whole foods way of eating, I encourage you to check out my Ease Your Way into Paleo series (#EYWIP) where I break the process down into 15 weeks if needed.
Yours in Health,