Do you really know what you’re eating? Can you even pronounce half of the ingredients in your food? Your answer to these questions is most likely no. The reason for this is that most of the food we eat is filled with processed ingredients and contain so many chemicals that are cheap and easy for companies to obtain. Because of heart disease and obesity, America is in a health crisis. When we walk down the street, fast food is the easiest and quickest option. Healthy options aren’t readily available when those are the ones that we need. America has become a processed county and it’s seen in the people who walk through the streets every day.
One place to start is with our children, as they are young, able to make a change early, and they are the future. According to the CDC, the number of overweight children in the U.S is currently at 38%. The main problem directly correlated with this issue is the school lunches that your children are being served. According to Bettina Elias Siegel, school lunches can hold up to 39 extra grams of sugar. The way we eat starts from habit and if people start eating fast food, that’s what will continue. School is the best place to start. School is where children get the most influence on their lives. It is mandatory that schools teach health and good nutrition. However, historically, the things being served in school went against what was being taught. In 2011, Michelle Obama, started the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, making attempting change in school lunches for the first time in 15 years. Schools are now mandated to offer fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins every day. In addition, the sodium content of these foods is gradually being reduced (USDA). Once this begins, it can start to move into their homes and eating healthy may not be something that seems hard or unattainable.
The next step is teaching adults that eating healthy isn’t hard. Most adults in America don’t even know what they are supposed to be doing to live a healthy lifestyle. According to the United Health Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, as it accounts for about 25% of all deaths each year. More and more foods contain processed ingredients, sugar, fat, and salt. According to Dr. Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman, an all plant-based diet is what we should be eating, as it can prevent heart disease and in some cases has reversed the effects. This is an extreme view, but should be taken into consideration. Fresh plant foods are the healthiest, but minimal meat intake is okay – come on we all like a hamburgers every now and then – it won’t hurt anyone, everything just needs to be taken into moderation. The same goes for sweets, we all can’t give up cookies and ice cream forever. Less processed, more natural foods, and moderation is the key to learning these new habits. This is what people need to be taught. Small changes can go a long way.
Eating healthy and natural is expensive, time consuming and not affordable for all families. This was actually proven wrong when ABC went and tested this claim with an actual family. They took a family and sent one person to get a full fast food dinner and one person to home-cook a healthier meal. The time that it took to complete the task and the cost were recorded. Not only was the home-cooked dinner quicker, it was also cheaper. This proves that anyone can do it, but it will require change and will help in the long run.
Balance is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. The first step is changing the way that America uses food. Instead of advertising heavily processed foods, we need to replace that with organic and natural options. Both children and adults will benefit from this change. Our bodies were made to live off the food from nature like our ancestors. It’s time to educate our friends and families, and together healthy options can become the easy option.
Written by Amanda Staszewski
Photo Credits by Fox News