Post #7. Healthy Eating #2
My wife loves to watch the birds from out of the kitchen window. We have three different feeders that we stock regularly. Recently we noticed that the birds had gained so much weight that they could no longer fly off the ground. By letting them eat as much as they wanted they would overeat and became obese to the point that they had lost their mobility. Before we knew it, there were hundreds of fat birds laying all over the backyard watching Netflix. We had two choices, we could somehow teach the birds to use a sort of motorized flight scooter or start restricting their food to a small, pre-packaged paper cup a day. Maybe we could call it Healthy Bird Cuisine. These animals have no sense of reasoning so the only way to stop them from eating themselves to death is to restrict their diet. After all, they are instinctively wired to survive by finding and eating food, avoiding pain, and reproducing.
Okay, obviously I’m being sarcastic here, but this is actually a really cool idea. Maybe I’m under-thinking this or maybe I’m overusing logic but here are some thoughts that made me start seeing food in a different perspective.
I have been an outdoors-man my entire life. I have spent countless hours in the woods and on the water and I have yet to see an obese animal in the wild. Sure there are size variations but a larger animal is proportioned to be large as a whole. I have never seen a bass with a beer belly or a muffin shaped deer. These animals have the ability to eat from morning to night and depending on the environment they have ample amounts of food. Like humans, they are wired to search out the most calorie dense foods they can find. So why do animals stay lean and not have overweight or obesity issues yet humans do? Maybe, just maybe, it has nothing to do with how much or how often they eat, maybe it has everything to do with WHAT they eat. As long as the animal eats the food that is provided by nature it will be satisfied and maintain an ideal weight. When you feed that animal food that’s not intended for it you set it up for the same consequences that we deal with as humans. If a dog eats table scraps and “treats” it will become fat and sick. Could it be that simple?
The first thing to understand is that the more research and money we are throwing at the obesity and diet related disease problem, the worse the situation is becoming. These statistics are staggering!
450 billion dollars per year for indirect costs of treating obesity in the US alone with 108 million people on diets and the rate of overweight and obese people is rising at an alarming rate. Americans are spending 20 billion out of their own pockets on diets and Healthy Bird Cuisine and we are getting fatter and sicker by the day. It’s time to step it up and move forward with more research and more funding ……………….or wait a minute………………… What if we are going the wrong direction? Lets go back and see where the statistics really started changing. According to the Center for Disease Control obesity rates have more than doubled since 1960. Maybe instead of asking where to get more funding from we should ask just what was so different. Obviously the food choices were much different than today and I am not going to get into all the differences but the movie Forks Over Knives ( www.forksoverknives.com ) does an amazing job covering where our food choices and ideas come from and where they are going. If you haven’t seen the movie you really should.
There are many differences in the way we eat today from the way we ate in the 60’s but the majority of the the changes can be grouped into one category. Processed food.
If you could only make one change in your diet this would be the one. Removing all processed foods from my diet was absolutely impossible. In fact, if I would have dumped processed food cold turkey it would have been a disaster. As I said in my previous post no one wants to give up anything especially food. I started to trade some of my “go to” processed foods with whole foods. My strategy was pretty simple. I started to trade just one processed food for one whole food that had a similar taste texture. Most processed foods started out from convenience and they are trying to simulate a real food anyway so this idea is not as difficult as one would think. Once one trade would stick I would go for another, I just continued the process and my food choices became cleaner and cleaner. This is not a perfect process, in fact, it’s far from it and 4 years later I still battle it. The thing to remember about all these changes is that it is the progress that counts, not the perfection. When you mess it up and chow down on something that’s highly processed, chalk it up to experience, take note at the circumstances that surrounded the choice, and then learn from it. Snack foods have always loved me and I them. I will never give up snacks. Most days I eat from the time my feet hit the ground in the morning until I go to bed. When I grab a snack at night I may go for a red potato. Sounds weird right, but the old snack would have been chips. A potato can be cut into thin slices and microwaved, (chip holder)sauteed in some veggie broth or liquid aminos, baked, mashed, or what ever you are feeling. You can bake a 5 pound bag all at once on the weekend so you have them for the entire week. Warm them up slap some siracha, salt, and pepper and there you go. Popcorn is another huge snack in my house. We buy popcorn in 50 lb bags. Air popped is the best but again, progress not perfection. If you want to avoid butter (and you should) you can mist it with vinegar, soy sauce, or even water and they cover it with you favorite spices. I use everything from garlic powder, red pepper, basil, nutritional yeast, to just sea salt.
If sweets is your thing then use a quality fresh fruit to replace that candy or cookie. What you swap out should never be a down grade, it should be a lateral move. Most importantly, you should NEVER be hungry. I think where people throw in the towel is when you start trading things like a slice of pizza for half of a rice cake. Remember, you have to be in it for the long haul and what you change you own, make it count, and make it something you can live with. Eventually the changes will get easier and easier and your body will actually crave whole foods because of the nutrition it gets out of them. The opposite is also true, when you screw up, and you will, your body will react negatively and you may even get sick when you start eating a highly processed food you are no longer used to.
So, last time we talked about adding healthy, nutrient dense foods into your existing menu. Now we are replacing some processed foods with whole foods. If it comes in a package or has a commercial just trade it for a whole food. We have yet to take anything away, all we did was add and trade. Give it a whirl, it’s not as hard you think.
“Eat plants, move your body. All ya got to do is a little more than ya did yesterday 😉 ”
Until next time,