In case you haven’t noticed, and a big reason why I keep babbling on my blog and on social media, we have an obesity epidemic. The stats are scarier than turning on your bathroom light and finding a centipede that looks like it just crawled out of the depths of Hell chillin’ near your toilet. Scarier than waking up in the middle of the night and finding a centipede on your FACE. (This did not happen to me, it happened to close friends and I’m not sure how they didn’t burn their house down immediately afterwards). The stats that are scarier than centipede stuff: “Obese citizens cost the U.S. health care system 40% more than normal-weight citizens. In a sample of 10 million commercial health plan members, those without diabetes cost $4,000 a year compared to $11,700 for those with diabetes, and $20,700 for those with complications from diabetes.”- (talking about type 2 diabetes in the book Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman). Another one: “Among children and adolescents ages 2-19, about 1 in 6 (17.2%) were considered to have obesity and about 1 in 17 (6%) were considered to have extreme obesity”. (link to these statistics and many other terrifying ones here .) We are setting up innocent, pure, trusting little children for lifelong health issues. This is F’d up! Are we all scared? Good.
Sometimes I wonder why I care so much about this epidemic. I’m thin, healthy, and can do 5.5 neutral grip pull ups. Watch out, world. I think there’s a couple reasons why I care, and continue to do my measly part on spreading the word about healthy living. Firstly, it only took hearing one sentence from one person for me to change the trajectory of my life. About 6 years ago I was listening to Wayne Dyer speak and he said, “I don’t eat animals because I don’t want to consume their fear”. Why this particular sentence got to me, I don’t know. But it made me start reading books on the topic of food and I have been charging along ever since. Really big pants to fill, but perhaps one day I will be someone’s “Wayne” in regards to food. Perhaps one sentence I say will make someone go, “hmmm” and the lightbulb will go off that you should freaking care a lot about what kind of dang food you put in your mouth. Jeez. (I hope that’s the sentence that causes your lightbulb moment, ha!). Secondly, there must be a reason why this topic really gets me all fired up. Maybe it’s a sign from the Universe that this is what I’m supposed to do. Or maybe I get fired up because I’m an Aries and it’s a fire sign and literally everything gets me worked up. Side note- I just looked up fire signs and this quote was found for Aries, “Impulsive Aries might be tempted to ram their ideas down everyone’s throats without even bothering to ask if they want to know.” Can we get a more accurate sentence? Moving on…
Now, I know from experience that being healthy in this country is freaking hard sometimes. First, we’ve got the food industry hiring mad scientists to whip up food-like concoctions specifically designed to have our taste buds and cerebral pleasure centers singing “this is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S, THIS SHIT IS BANANAS B-A-N-A-N-A-S!” Except there’s no bananas because they barely use real food ingredients. Then we’ve got the government who, pardon my French, is one big complete ass- clown rodeo, especially regarding all matters of country wide food health and recommendations. They literally take money from the companies that keep us fat and sick. Conflict of interest, much? Lastly, we’ve got a large population of people who consider themselves genetically screwed over when it comes to high blood pressure/obesity/Type 2 diabetes/heart disease, etc. There are a number of factors stacked against us whilst trying to pursue the healthy lifestyle, and honestly I could write books on each one. To condense this post, here’s a quick quiz I put together to figure out who to blame for our obesity epidemic:
I am unhealthy because:
A.) The food industry
B.) The government
C.) My genetics have me predisposed
D.) Me. Crap.
Drumroll…. the answer is D! I know. Ouch. Since it’s fun to blame others for stuff, and they should definitely get some of the heat, I will unscientifically let you give 10% of the blame to the food industry for their damn good marketing skills and magical flavor combinations, 15% to the government for giving us complete misinformation and giving us the runaround on any advice that will actually fix our health problems, and 3% to genetics for rare diseases and mutations. (According to the book “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell, “population studies begun forty to fifty years ago show that when people migrate from one country to another, they acquire the cancer rate of the country to which they move, despite the fact that their genes remain the same. This strongly indicates that at least 80 to 90 percent- and probably closer to 97 percent to 98 percent- of all cancers are related to diet and lifestyle, not to genes.) Society lately has especially loved blaming the genetics angle, and so many large health organizations like to perpetuate the message that we are just victims to these random, unfortunate genetic “f*ck you’s”. The best quote I have seen that gets the message across is “genetics loads the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger”. We should also call out some journalists and publications for reporting on nutrition topics with the best splashy headlines instead of topics that will actually change the health landscape. Although I kind of get it, “Did You Know… Eating Broccoli is Good for You!” isn’t really that much of a page turner.
This unscientifically concludes, we are 72% to blame for our issues. While it is knowledge that is hard to swallow, with this knowledge comes power! ::cue 90’s song “The Power” by German music group Snap!:: Call me crazy, but I think one of the first things we can do to regain some health power back is to basically do the opposite of what we have heard is best. Namely, the whole high protein, low carb, eat more animal foods concept that is clearly not working for Americans. I will shout it till I’m blue in the face- it’s all about the vegetables, people! Move your focus from protein to fiber, from calorie counts to unprocessed foods, and from animal food consumption to plant food consumption.
Talk about B-A-N-A-N-A-S, this way of eating will revolutionize your health. Add in daily movement, stress management, and some full nights of sleep and we are really cooking. Speaking of cooking, you should do more of that. It doesn’t have to be hard, but we gotta get away from being dummies in the kitchen. This is a huge call out to myself who is awful in the kitchen, but I would really like to get better at it and enjoy it more. It’s the darn millennial in me, I really like convenience (and taking pictures of my food).
What do you think? Am I correct in my analysis on where this country can point the finger? Do you think the food industry and the government should get bigger blame for the skyrocketing obesity crisis? Perhaps. But if there’s one thing my Aries-ness has taught me, it’s that you have to look out for number one. And seeing that Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Gov aren’t doing it, the responsibility rests on your shoulders. You have the power to reclaim your health and what goes on your plate. Use it wisely!