Several weeks ago, I was shopping at a Walmart Supercenter with a college student. He was helping me buy food for a college retreat we were setting up. This young man has several relatives with diabetes in his immediate family, and he's become more aware of the importance to taking care of himself. It's been great for me, since I bounce a lot of stuff off him, including the feel of this blog. He has great insights.
As we were picking up things on our shopping list, we both paid close attention to the food labels, choosing healthier and less prepared items. At one point, we stopped and I asked him to look around at the people with us in the store. If there was a person there who was not overweight, we didn't see them. Both of us were shocked. I'm quite sure if you did this little experiment in a grocery store or mall near you, the scene would be pretty much the same. What has happened?
A recently published book, The End of Overeating, has some answers. I haven't read the whole book and I don't want you to consider this an endorsement. However, what I've read so far does do a good job at explaining how the many changes in our diets over the last thirty years or so have played a hugh role in this epidemic of obesity.
Did you know that Americans are spending about 50% of their food dollar in restaurants? I think it's safe to say that many of our health problems aren't coming from well run establishments serving good quality, wholesome food. It's the folks serving up heavily processed, cheap and fast food. Here's the low-down,
"Higher sugar, fat and salt make you want to eat more," a high level food industry executive told me. He was remarkably candid, explaining that the food industry creates dishes to hit what he calls the "three points of the compass." Sugar, fat, and salt make food compelling. They make it indulgent. They make it high in hedonic value, which gives us pleasure.
"Do you design food specifically to be highly hedonic?" "Oh absolutely," he replied without a moment's hesitation. "We try to bring as much of that into the equation as possible..."
Buffalo wings start with the fatty parts of a chicken, which get deep fried. Then they're served with creamy or sweet dipping sauce that's heavily salted. Usually they're par-fried at a production plant, then fried again at the restaurant, which essentially doubles the fat. That gives us sugar on salt on fat on fat on fat. (p. 18-19)
I'm putting this out there not to chastise, but rather as a reminder that we have to be very aware of what we're eating. Well prepared, fresh and wholesome food, served in smaller portions, is the answer. Be very sensitive to the fat, salt and sugar and make appropriate choices. Your body will thank you :)
Let's face it, we all overindulge from time to time. Our problem is that we're doing it way too often. No matter what shape you're in, please start paying more attention to what you're eating. Cut back where you need to, and be sure you are getting more veggies into the mix.