Guest post by: Summer Porter, Dietetic Intern and PhD candidate at UIC
America has an eating disorder. Diagnosis: poor quality food too much, too often, in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. Confused? You should be- you’ve likely been exposed to nothing but imitation crap food and crap culture your entire life.
Poor quality food: the average American palate knows 3 major flavor principles: fat, salt, and sugar. If our bland preferences approach the realms of too spicy, too gamey, too herby, too ethnic, etc. by golly you’ll have a riot on your hands. Pass the ketchup!
Are you a picky eater with a bland palate? It’s not your fault. You were raised that way (and so were your parents). Good news: taste can be altered by exposure. What does that mean? It means the more often you try new foods and flavors, the more you will appreciate them and enjoy the vast cornucopia this world has to offer.
If you’re asking what all these semi-insulting insinuations have to do with your health, the answer is EVERYTHING. Our mechanisms for satiety have not evolved much since the caveman days when fat, salt, and sugar were difficult to obtain sources of nutrients. These substances tell our hypothalamus “GOOD. YUM. EAT MORE.” So we do. Thanks to technology, fat, salt, and sugar are easily refined and ever abundant today. Unfortunately our hypothalamus can’t keep up with the learning curve. Duhhh.
Are you smarter than the crap you are eating? Hell yes you are. Eat real food. Cooking is a lost art in most American households. Kids don’t know that vegetables grow, bread rises, or that chicken nugget on their spork used to walk. When did we start believing the more disconnected we are from our food, the better off we will be? Americans are pretty ingenious when it comes to bastardizing food. Whether it’s an organic tv dinner, fat free “butter”, or a box of superhero shaped fruit snacks- ignore the health claims on the package- it’s not real food. You’re smarter than that. These items aren’t inherently bad- but don’t for a second think this is quality food. It’s a marketing ploy aimed at YOU. P.S. Real butter from real cows tastes good. It tastes so good, you only need a little bit to appreciate it. You don’t have to trick your taste buds to enjoy the food on your plate and not become an accessory to the obesity epidemic.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Ignore what they say. Nutrition is NOT hard. We’ve made it that way by manipulating food and listening to heretics of public health. Even if you don’t have time to put on your pretty apron, prepare and serve a made-from-scratch-meal, you can still be healthy. Healthful eating is not only about the “what do you eat” but the HOW. How much are you eating? How often? Are you sitting down with friends/family at meals or shoving crap in your mouth while you work/ drive/ watch tv. It’s no revelation that American portion sizes are just too big. You don’t have to measure out your food or count calories if you sit down, slow down, and enjoy. It’s not ridiculous. People all over the world live by these principles and do not suffer from obesity at the rates we do. Realize that WE are the manic ones with too much on our plates (pun intended).
Photo courtesy of jcolman.