by Anna Hunt
“The Doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas A Edison, 1847-1931
Eating healthy can be challenging in a world of convenient, processed and fast foods. In the US, food companies collectively spend more on advertising than any other industry, even more than Big Pharma (which coincidentally spends about twice as much on advertising as it does on research and development, as reported in Science Daily). We are talking about billions of dollars spent each year to make us believe that a sausage biscuit is just as good to eat as a bowl of granola because it has similar calories, or that you will have more fun when drinking a coke, and that processed GMO’ed snacks are “natural” and “healthy”.
On top of all this, billions more are spent to sell us pills to help with the various ailments and illnesses that often arise due to poor diet.
Many people are stuck in this vicious cycle because they lack proper nutritional education, and don’t have a personal history of eating well. Aside from a few days covering the food pyramid (which in itself is questionable, as there is a heavy dependence on grains and animal products and no mention of vegan or vegetarian diets), not much else is taught in schools about nutrition. Most medical professionals are not taught to address our illnesses with nutrition, but instead promote drugs, and shockingly some even dismiss diet as a cause of poor health.
Public and government organizations can in no way match what is being spent by the food processors to help promote healthy-eating initiatives. In 2006 alone, food companies spent $1.6 billion marketing their products to children, with millions more spent targeting other demographic groups. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control’s combined budget to spend on improving the public’s nutrition and physical activity totaled about $51 million in 2008. Source: Washington Post
These organization may try to raise awareness about good food, but their efforts simply cannot compete. The USDA outlines a set of dietary guidelines to help guide Americans towards healthier food choices and, as per the USDA, “confront [the] obesity epidemic.” But who listens and actually adheres to government guidelines about what to eat?
New research conducted by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Alexandria, Virginia surveyed over 8000 Americans to find out what they ate in a day, and compared this to USDA nutritional recommendations. “Overall, the researchers found that children and adults as groups each scored 56, while seniors scored higher with 65, meaning they did a better job meeting the USDA standards than most younger people, but no one came close to a perfect score of 100.” Source: Fox News
Now that we understand that our health and diet is being attacked by corporations, and that our already over-reaching and over-extended government is in no position to positively influence public health, what can we do abut this serious issue?
As with many problems that face the world today, the best way to begin fixing this is to stop pointing fingers and to take a look in the mirror. What are you eating? What are you serving your children? What companies are you supporting with your spending dollars? What types of dishes are you bringing to pot-luck dinners during this Holiday Season? Perhaps an interesting dish that’s packed with super-healthy, leafy greens will start an inspiring conversation about food, versus leaving the guests bloated and reaching for antacids.
There are many resources on the Internet, numerous books and recipe apps that bring us a wealth of ideas on how to cook and eat healthy. Here are some of my favorites:
Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, by the Editors of Whole Living Magazine
Raising the Salad Bar: Beyond Leafy Greens–Inventive Salads with Beans, Whole Grains, Pasta, Chicken, and More, by Catherine Walthers
The 10 Things You Need to Eat: And More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them, by Dave Lieberman
Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, by David Wolfe