I am sure everyone has seen the latest stats to be released on obesity. (I just got home from Italy and found them waiting on my desktop.) While Mississippi is ‘still king of cellulite,’ an ominous tide is rolling onward as Alabama is currently running a close second in its obesity rankings.
The new stats have just been released and they hold little good news. In 31 states, more than 1 in 4 adults is obese (not just pleasantly plump, but obese…yikes!). The report, released by the Trust for America’s Health says that obesity rose in 23 states over the past year, while not one state experienced a decline. In fact, the report indicates that the crest of the wave of obesity has yet to crash over us.
And while this report provides one of the first in-depth looks at obese baby boomers…and also credits them for a good deal of the crushing rise in obesity (39% of boomers in Alabama are obese), I won’t bore you with yet another blog about obesity and its impact on health. We all know the truth. We need to eat real food and exercise regularly to be fit, vital humans.
But I think the problem is much deeper than how many Happy Meals you eat. I think that we live in a world where you have to be constantly vigilant to not be obese. I think that beating people up, yelling and finger-pointing won’t really solve the problem. I think that the problem runs so deep that a total overhaul of our food system is needed to beat obesity before it steals our future completely.
If you’ve seen the documentary Food, Inc., read anything by Michael Pollan, or listened to the current information that Mark Bittman talks about, you know the truth. As a culture, we have moved so far from eating real food, that we almost can’t identify it anymore.
As decades have passed and we grow further from the garden and the kitchen, we have lost sight of what real food looks like, tastes like and how we feel when we eat it. In the name of convenience and speed, we let our health, along with real food slip through our fingers and the price we are paying is high.
I often ask people what they are looking for in life. It seems that we spend our days wishing them over. We can’t wait for school to be out, work to be finished, our time at the gym over, dinner done…and I wonder why. What is it that we can’t wait for? Hours in front of the television? More time on Facebook or Twitter? What?
We need to re-think and re-set our priorities. In this economy, we talk a lot about getting back to basics, getting rid of excess. We need to begin with our food. It’s time to stop buying into all the marketing and hype that we see and hear, promoting fast food, junk and other foodlike substances.
Getting back to basics begins in the kitchen…actually in the garden and at the farm stand. Before this madness known as the obesity epidemic can be stemmed, we need to identify real food and begin to make those choices. We need to demand better quality from the people who produce and manufacture the food we eat. We need to tell them…loud and clear…that enough is enough and we won’t continue to eat their cheap, fast food that is loaded with fat, sugar and salt and is designed to send us to an early grave, but not before we become reliant on pharmaceuticals. We have to tell them that we won’t buy it anymore…and then we need to stop buying it…and make better choices for ourselves.
It’s so easy to turn this tide that threatens to snuff out humanity. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, even some cancers are all part of the new category of killers known as ‘lifestyle diseases.’ Our lifestyle is killing us and only a change can stop the terrifying statistics that steal our hope. Eating whole, natural, unprocessed food…the real thing…going back to the kitchen and preparing the lion share of your meals…gathering around the table with those you love…that’s the road back. That’s the path that can remove the stain that fast food and convenience has left on humanity.
And don’t for one minute try to make the argument that eating natural food is expensive and elitist and that it’s so much cheaper to buy poor-quality junk food to feed your family. Not only is that not true, but even if it were, the long term effects of eating fast food on our health is seen in the terrifying statistics we hear about every day. Better to invest in that head of broccoli than those 99-cent burgers. Remember that eating well is a right, not a privilege and everyone can afford to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Yes, you have to cook them and that makes it harder than swinging by the drive-through window, but if we are to return to health, we need to go back to the kitchen.
It’s time to stop letting marketing and advertising own us and determine our health. It’s time for us to take control of our destinies and create the vitality that so many ads promise, but none can deliver. There is not a pill, lotion or potion that can give you your health. They can only mask the symptoms they have helped to create and give you the illusion of health and well-being.
Instead, why not eat real food, not too much, mostly plants and create the real thing?