Monday, April 14, 2008

If "normal" food is so bad for us, why is it so common?

Do you agree with this and if yes, what are you doing?
"If you were dropped at a random point in America today, nearly all the food around you would be bad for you. Humans were not designed to eat white flour, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. And yet if you analyzed the contents of the average grocery store you'd probably find these four ingredients accounted for most of the calories.

"Normal" food is terribly bad for you. The only people who eat what humans were actually designed to eat are a few Birkenstock-wearing weirdos in Berkeley.

If "normal" food is so bad for us, why is it so common?

There are two main reasons. One is that it has more immediate appeal. You may feel lousy an hour after eating that pizza, but eating the first couple bites feels great. The other is economies of scale. Producing junk food scales; producing fresh vegetables doesn't. Which means (a) junk food can be very cheap, and (b) it's worth spending a lot to market it.

If people have to choose between something that's cheap, heavily marketed, and appealing in the short term, and something that's expensive, obscure, and appealing in the long term, which do you think most will choose?" -Paul Graham
We know we need to make a change. What SHOULD one eat that's quick, tastes good and doesn't make us look old and feel tired before our time?

Should we just take the lead and stop buying so much of the bad stuff?

We stopped smoking, didn't we?

What steps have you taken so far? Use the 'comments' below to tell.

P.S. There is damage control for the junk food and drink we consume. Whole food multis like these and others on the market. That's not a substitute eating real food, but it's at least limits the damage from all the artificial junk food, pastas, and sweets we consume.


Anonymous said...

Yes I agree totally. You'll never see coupons or sales on the healthy natural foods; only the processed foods, so of course it costs more to eat healthy, and a lot of people don't have the money to spare or the knowledge of what that processed food is really doing to their bodies. The best advice I've read in a long time said to shop the outside aisles of the grocery store - that's where the fresh produce is - avoid the center aisles containing the junk foods and you won't be as tempted to put the bad food in your cart in the first place.

JoAnne & Dave Christensen said...

For the past couple of years, JoAnne and I have been studiously attempting to avoid hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and products that contain substances we cannot pronounce without the assistance of someone with a Ph.D in chemistry.

We're not at 100% avoidance but we're getting closer. It is no small task.

That tact, along with the whole food multis we've been on for about 4-1/2 yrs. (I strongly feel) has contributed to the optimum results of our blood chemistry analysis. We're both 59 yrs. old. with no meds and with the energy we had at 45, easily.

We think so much of the whole food multis, we became afiliated with the company to help make them available to others who are intent on "still being on their feet" long into their old age -like we are.

Dave C.

NoMoreGrumpyMom said...

Since January I have started shopping for my family of 6 at Whole Foods and Sprouts. There is no doubt it costs more, but our current motto is you can either pay for it now or pay for it later.
To help curb some costs, I joined a co-op where I can go pick up 2 basket- fuls of local fresh fruits and veggies and that has reduced the cost significantly.
I also got a Vita-mix (another expensive purchase) but I use it everyday for fresh smoothies. I also go to a local grain store and buy whole grains and grind them myself and make homemade pancakes, muffins, etc..freeze them and pull them out for my kids breakfast each morning (they have given up pop tarts and toaster struedel)
One more thing, I buy plain organic yogurt and mix in some organic vanilla and grade b maple syrup for the kids (so much sugar in the other "kids" yogurts) and then they add their own mix-ins; fruit, granola, etc...

Lisa M.

Suzanne said...

As Dave C. said, it is very difficult to avoid the hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. These seem to be everywhere. For the past few months, I have tried to get the groceries I need that do not contain these products, and as far as I have been successful, I have noted wonderful changes.

The person who used to crave bread no longer craves it - because I am eating just a wee bit of bread (a couple times a week vs. almost every day) with no HFCS. I truly believe that choosing a type without that ingredient has lessened my cravings for the product. A friend of mine has promised to show me how to make my own bread, which will be even better.

I also have never been one to have potato chips and those other snacks in the house, as I find that it is difficult to withstand the temptation if they are here. So, I simply don't buy them. If I am going to a party and am asked to bring chips, I leave them at the party.

Also, when I am attending an event where I am asked to bring an item of food (potluck, light refreshments for my daughter's piano recital, etc.), I take something like fruit, a salad, or sandwiches (made with bread with no HFCS), or a Caribbean dish prepared with rice (brown) and beans - together they make a complete protein. Most people will bring dessert or something sweet or laden with mayonnaise, so I take something that I can have knowing it won't be detrimental to my health or blood sugar levels.

These are just a couple of things I have been doing to work on being healthier and teaching my daughter how to make better choices.

Frankly, I think that one of the easiest ways to avoid the bad stuff is just not to take it home with us, and not order it in either. If we keep it out of the house, it's not around to tempt us. It works for me.

pixhealth said...

With food the way it is today it is almost impossible to avoid the bad stuff. As was discussed in the article it is very convenient to purchase, store and consume the bad stuff. When eating in your own kitchen it is easy to control what you eat. Not so easy when out in the world living your life. So an easy work around is supplementation. I made a decision in the early 2000's to eat and live better. In 2005 I discovered the whole food multi's. I am convinced they have made a significant difference in my health and how I feel. People, including myself, choose the bad food because it is convenient. The whole food multi's are just as convenient as junk food. When I started eating them I was pushing 50 and more concerned about my health. Now that I'm over 50 I know that I've been doing the right thing. I look and feel great. So watch what you eat. Do your best to eat healthy everyday. Ask your self what would you rather do: eat a wheelbarrow full of vegetables every day in order to be healthy and live a long life or eat a couple of these capsules.

Rik Harvin
Melbourne, FL

Robin Plan said...

Until about a year ago I didn't put a lot of thought into food. Now I'm amazed I'm even alive and healthy. I'm actually becoming a health nut about food and that's a good thing.

Kim asks:
We know we need to make a change. What SHOULD one eat that's quick, tastes good and doesn't make us look old and feel tired before our time?

I don't eat much meat at all but my husband does so I only buy grass fed organic meats.

I buy most produce organic. I did this blog post to help know what to always buy orgainc;

I replaced all instant Hot breakfast cereals with the real thing, like Oat Bran. I found I love whole grain hot cereal. I add fresh fruits, wheat germ, honey and nuts to it. Yum...

I've changed so much in with the food I buy. I don't have the space here to write about everything so to keep it simple:
I've replaced most canned foods with fresh veggies. Use whole grains in place of White foods. No more boxed, just add water meals.

Should we just take the lead and stop buying so much of the bad stuff?

Yes, if we don't have the bad food we don't eat it. I will say I was not a good eater a year ago. I didn't eat sweets but craved salty foods. I used to eat at McDonalds a lot, gasp...

I'm happy to say by staying away from the bad foods and paying attention to what I eat I don't crave or want the junk anymore.

What steps have you taken so far?
I guess I said this in the above comments.
I don't buy the processed foods.
I do buy organic.
I pay attention to food and read labels.
I talk with my son every day about food and the damage or help we are doing to our body by what food choices we make. It's working, he's starting to make better choices.

One more topic. I was always an on and off vitamin taker. My cabinets were filled with them. I never felt any different when I took them. Some were big enough for a horse,some said to take 3 day and some were in packets of 8 pills, no joke. I am not going to take 8 pills a day. Anyway, I do take this Whole Food Multi and can feel the difference in my energy, my night sweats are gone and the biggy for me, I eat better now. It's like when my body got good nutrition I didn't crave the junk. My body is smart. The good thing is I've changed everything I eat and my views on food, painlessly.


Jacqueline said...

I'm the person who is on the far, far side of normal (alas, no birkenstocks and I'm not from California). My husband and I own an organic farm. Two years ago we went even further and our farm is now biodynamic (organic to the Nth) which is a further leap into making sure our soil is abundantly fertile and healthy so the food we grow is truly nutritious.

We grow a lot of our own food and have three freezers filled with fruit, vegetables, different kinds of meats and plenty of home-pressed apple, pear and grape cider. If we didn't grow it ourselves, one of our organic friends did and we know where it came from so we know it's "clean" food.

Where our food comes from isn a big issue for us. We know most people can't farm their own food like we're doing but people can join CSAs (community sponsored agriculture -- do a websearch for your area) and buy fresh organic food straight from the farmer.

I hardly take any vitamins anymore because I think it's important we get most of our nutrition from real whole foods. All I take these days is Vitamin C (not the chemical kind), cold water fish oil, pop-a-greens and purples (to back me up on anything I miss), and some D3 if I don't get out in the sun enough. That's it.

Jacqueline Freeman

cartann said...

I wish I had the discipline the rest of you seem to have! The best git of all for me is: don't have it in the house. I'm a sweets freak - if I had my way with food, it would all be pie, cake, cookies, doughnuts, chocolat - well, you get the picture. If any of these things are in the house - even carefully hidden -- they call to me in loud voices -- "EAT ME"
I hope the pops will help cure my cravings, but I'll keep on just not having those things in the house :-)
Can't wait to get my Pops.
No Discipline Ann

Anonymous said...

Since August 2007, I have been on the blood type diet. In this regimen, I have eliminated all wheat and corn products, among many other things, from my diet. This was a drastic change from a bachelor who formerly subsisted on frozen pizza and ice cream, but numerous health problems that weren't being helped by doctors and conventional medicine encouraged me to turn to nutrition as a cure. And boy, has it made a difference! My chronic struggles with hypoglycemia, depression, fatigue, back and neck pain, and poor sleep have all been dramatically improved. I am a brand new man thanks to changing my diet!

Anonymous said...

If you buy it, they will make it. That is why it is so common. Keep your diet simple and flavorful, stay out of the center isles of the grocery store, and in the long run you will save more money for yourself in preventing loss of work from sick days, headaches, wieght gain, and other high cost problems that counter the higher cost of healthier food. Two years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with a neurological problem that affected her behavior. We cut out all processed food, sugar, and food dyes. Corn syrup soon followed the list. I lost 10 lbs, my daughter's behavior improved, and both my children are healthy, energetic, and of a good weight. I have watched the cost of organic food come down a bit, and more variety is easier to find. In switching to organic we found that food suddenly tasted better. Organic foods actually taste better, organic or natural crackers taste better and are more filling so you eat less, and the energy from the food lasts a long time. It seems to cost more in the beginning, but the children eat better and are not as hungry from empty calories, I eat better and regulate weight and energy better, and our children do not experience crashes from sugar highs. We enjoy natural sugars, and my daughter cannot stand to eat in resteraunts anymore, she says the food tastes funny and upsets her stomache. I urge anyone with children to consider what you are feeding your children and how this affects their behavior, their ability to learn and think. Let's face it, the average person is so bombarded with bad food images to get you to buy it, the grocery stores are designed to make money. That is the nature of a free market system. If you want to change it, stop buying it!