No, I’m not talking about infectious viruses or actual wars. There is a much bigger problem in America, and it IS the underlying cause of many dangers, many pre-existing conditions, many hospital visits, high healthcare costs, and overall quality of life.
Our nutrition sucks.
It is awful. There is no other way to put it.
So who do we blame? Fast food? Big food companies? Our parents? Politicians? Usually, it’s an outside source. This will get you nowhere. To truly make a change with your nutrition habits it starts from within. You. Ownership.
“My bank account ran out of money, it’s all Amazons fault!” – unless you got hacked – no, it’s your fault.
“My car ran out of gas, it’s all Toyota’s fault!” – no, it’s your fault.
“My grade on that test wasn’t fair! – no, it’s likely your fault – unless you have one of “those” teachers 🙂
Yet we continue to blame outside sources for our poor nutrition habits.
I empathize with this, however. Look at what we are up against. Multibillions of dollars in marketing, food science research to make things taste delicious, accessibility like never before, and a very low level of nutritional education impressed on our youth today for fear of it not being politically correct to teach them what a calorie is.
We are constantly bombarded with ads, shows, billboards, coupons in the mail all for our favorite calorie bomb foods and restaurants. It is in our face 24/7. On a hot summer day, does anything sound better than a big bowl of ice cream?
Now we can’t go protest the billboards to come down and the coupons to stop coming or the ads to stop showing up on TV (I’m sure some would try) – so here we need to control what we can.
Stop following cooking pages. Stop reading cooking magazines. Stop watching cooking shows if these are things that lead to you feeling hungry.
Every time you drive by a certain restaurant, so you feel an urge to drive through for a quick 1000 calorie snack? Take a different route. Limit your exposure to the trigger, and think about your health for that split second.
The Evil Food Science People
They knowingly create foods that our brains love. When you combine salt, sugar, and fat, this creates a happy bomb in our brain. Think about it – these 3 things do not exist together in nature.
Something that is naturally sweet – fruit – has no salt or fat. Something naturally fatty – meat, nuts – has no sugar or salt. When you combine 2 or even 3 of these…our brains love it.
Guess what these things also usually have? High-calorie density. Lot’s of calories in a small volume of food.
Again – it starts with awareness, then follows up wit ha change in environment or patterns.
What leads you to these foods? Are they always available at home? Do you always happen to throw them in your cart at the store? Do you end up forgetting to plan lunch so just say “F it” and go through the drive-through?
In most cases – it’s you that is to blame. You make the decision. You buy food. You bring it home. You put it in a place where you can easily access it. You choose to not read the nutrition label. You choose to not measure it out. You choose to sit on the couch with the whole bag., You choose to add fries to that 800 calorie burger.
So yes, these foods are tasty. but it comes back to awareness and ownership.
Unless you live in a food desert (which there are still many) – you have no problem getting the food you want, when you want it. You can stay at home and get your groceries delivered, or food from anywhere now.
Delete those apps.
Get off your butt, and if you really want something – you get it. Invest the extra time and effort. But you don’t have the time? Then skip the delivery and pack a lunch the night before.
Maybe you are stuck at home and a parent keeps buying crap and bringing it into the house – you have unlimited accessibility! 20 steps from the living room and you find yourself in the pantry.
Maybe it’s time to have a “hard” talk with them about why you care about your health, and they should too. If anyone thinks that talk is inappropriate or offensive I don’ know what else to tell you.
Maybe they don’t have the mindless snacking problem that you have though. Fair enough – ask them to hide the food, and don’t tell you where it is. You won’t miss it. But make sure you replace it with a different option because we still need to eat at some point!
I Don’t Know Food!
Depending on your age, you may have never learned about nutrition in school. Maybe you saw a food pyramid or a plate divided in 4 quarters, but that may have been it.
Or at the time you didn’t care and thought it was boring. That’s understandable.
It’s never too late to learn! You don’t need to earn a degree in this stuff to understand it. Basic nutrition knowledge can give you the power to make an educated, and calculated decision that overtime will only improve your health.
Starting with tracking your food. There are some great free apps you can use – I like MyFitnessPal.com
It is very user friendly and can do a pretty decent job at being accurate. Find how many calories you eat. Here is an example of a fast-food day:
(Not too hard to eat over 3000 calories.)
Once you find out how much you’re eating on average – you may need to reduce it by 10-15% if you have been stuck at your current weight for a while. Try new foods, look them up, learn about them. Buy them on a whim.
How do you eat more vegetables? Eat more vegetables!
How do you eat more protein? Eat more protein.
There is no magic trick. DO or Do NOT. It all starts with a willingness to change and a baseline education on this stuff.
This takes effort. It takes responsibility. It takes some discipline. It takes some work. Sure our overall environment around food and health sucks in America. Look at the date on obesity and health numbers. These are facts, not shame. Just facts. You can keep blaming “the man” and other outside entities. But once you take ownership of your current choices that you are making, you will give yourself the power to change them.
In the end – it’s all on you, and when it comes to your body and your health – you should want it no other way.
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Stay healthy my friends,