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Posts Tagged ‘healthful eating’

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen a few of my latest posts that take jabs at those who excoriate those who don’t eat “real food”.  Whenever and wherever I see these “experts” and “gurus” inadvertently shaming others, the inevitable question of those on a tight budget comes up –

“How does someone on food stamps or someone who is struggling financially manage to eat only “real food”?

This is a fair and appropriate question – as many of you have pointed out, access to these “real foods” can be 2 or 3 bus rides away, and that’s after at 12 hour work day.  There is not only the immediate higher monetary cost because most of this “real food” is more expensive per volume, there is also the time cost, which unless you are a mother or father you may not know is simply priceless.

Whenever I see this question posed, the answer is almost always,

“well, it’s cheaper that getting sick.”

What kind of answer is that?

It isn’t.

It provides nothing other than letting the speaker feel they have conveyed some sort of positive message, while leaving those financially struggling, time strapped families with no real solution and a feeling of shame and embarrassment for not having the resources to provide their children “real food”.

This is what I posted on Facebook recently after seeing yet another “it’s cheaper than getting sick” response:

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While I laud efforts that encourage people to move their bodies and eat a more nutrient rich diet, I can’t help getting a little irritated at, as one running Instagram friend put it, those who “look down on someone from the high pedestal of privilege.”  Let’s be clear, if you have easy access and the financial means to shop at specialty markets then you are privileged, there is simply no arguing that.  I was happy to hear from another friend that in her area there is an affordable indoor/outdoor farmer’s market located in the heart of her city that accepts EBT cards and food stamps and is open year round.  The key words?  Affordable and In the Heart of the City.  That is a tremendous start, but we still have a  long way to go before we reach food equality for all in this country.

So with that being said, I am seeking your help.  I would like to post YOUR favorite, relatively healthful recipes for four that you can make for around $10 (US) or even less.  I am hoping to collect around thirty recipes that I will price out, document my attempt to make and then post here on the blog.  Quick recipes will obviously help the time strapped families, but I will gladly take all kinds, especially those that can be stretched – the key is that they need to be relatively healthy.

Relatively healthy…what does that mean?  To be honest, I’m not exactly sure.  I suppose it means that it’s not made up entirely of processed foods and has elements that call for veggies or fruits (fresh, frozen or canned).  If you are in doubt, send it to me anyway.  I will happily credit all contributors (if wanted) providing links to blogs or websites as well.

If you have an inexpensive healthful recipe you love and are willing to share, please email it to me at runluaurun at gmail dot com or message me on Facebook.

The bottom line is that I would like to see more people NOT eating out of a box for every meal and my hope is that WE can help provide the means for more people to both think and eat “outside the box”.

Thank you in advance for your help,

Luau

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I have a friend, MK.  He doesn’t know it, but I often call him my reality check.  I call him this because very often, when I write something without fully thinking it through (which is most of the time), he is there to intelligently present either an opposing view or even better put, a wider, more global view.  I’ve thought of him over the past several weeks as I’ve watched several friends write posts on Facebook that have essentially said, “if you eat processed food, you will die!”  While I fully encourage the concept of healthful eating, and I also believe that eating solely processed, packaged foods is not good for your long term health, I have trouble with statements like these.  They fit right in with the “worried about the cost of organic eating?  how about the cost of getting cancer? Now THAT’s expensive!”  I can’t tell you how many friends have posted that one.  The issue I take with statements like these is two-fold:

1.  Making an absolute statement like, “eating that Oreo will give you cancer, make you obese, turn you into an addict and give you diabetes” is very much like handing out “You’re Fat” notes on Halloween to kids you perceive as fat.  It’s not bullying per se, but it is still meant to make the Oreo eater feel guilt and embarrassment.  It’s not nearly as brutal nor as clumsy, but it still paints with broad brush strokes that reveal only a surface understanding of the more detailed biological mechanisms.  It is just as incomplete and can be damaging to those who blindly follow.  Let’s be clear, eating an Oreo is not going to give you cancer or diabetes or make you obese.  In fact, eating a whole package of Oreo Cookies will do none of those things either.  What “eating Oreos will make you obese, give you diabetes, turn you into an addict and kill you with cancer” lacks is the second half of a statement, something along the lines of “if that is all you eat” or “if you eat a whole package every day for months and years on end.”  There is nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying four or five Oreo cookies smashed at the bottom of a glass of whole milk…just don’t make a regular habit of it.  The phrase sugar addiction will often come into play in these discussions – the argument being that sugar is more addictive than cocaine or morphine.  Sugar addiction IS real, but again, the second half of the complete thought is almost always left off…for someThere have been studies that show sugar addiction is real in rats, and to be honest, even though there may not be specific scientific studies that show the same in humans, the unscientific (albeit occasionally misleading) eyeball test tells us a different story.  That being said, not everyone is predisposed to sugar addiction or even the side effects of sugar intake – that is something that many “experts” will either forget to mention or don’t know or even worse, willfully omit.

2.  Organic and fresh food is more expensive.  It just is, there is no way around that.  But to try to appeal to people through the “well imagine how much cancer is gonna cost you when you get it eating all that cheap, packaged inorganic crap” doesn’t take into consideration the fact that A. not all people actually have access to organic food (heck, some people in this country don’t even have easy access to fresh veggies and fruits – see Detroit) and B. some people simply can’t afford to buy all organic all the time.  For some people it becomes a choice of eating and going to bed with a full belly or eating a lot less and going to bed hungry.  I can’t claim to know what the numbers are but I’m pretty sure that constant hunger doesn’t do the brain or the prospects of longevity any favors.  What’s the cost of an underdeveloped intellect due to near starving conditions?  What’s the cost of growing up with a weak body because you couldn’t get enough calories into it due to an insistence on buying only organic?

Now don’t get me wrong.  If you CAN eat fresh veggies and fruits, and you CAN afford to buy organic, you probably should – the less chemicals and fewer packaged foods we put into our bodies the better.  But you have to balance that with a little common sense.  Our bodies are incredible biological machines.  Our cells turnover every 7 to 10 years.  Our bodies do a fantastic, albeit not perfect, job of cleaning out the waste.  Some Oreo Cookies and Milk here or some McDonald’s there or a few Snickers bars at Halloween or feeding your kids some prepared chicken nuggets now and again are not going to kill you or them, make either of you fat or cause cancer.  Occasional treats, if truly treated as treats you have occasionally, can actually be good for you mentally, and we all know that our mental health is just as, if not more, important as our physical health.

You do what you can with the budget and resources you have available.

Ultimately I believe it comes down to moderation.  If you eat a healthful diet in general, don’t let the internet health “gurus” and “experts” out there make you feel bad about hitting Burger King on a road trip or jamming a few candy bars after a big race.  Again, just don’t make it a regular habit.   I’ll admit right now, I swiped a mini Kit Kat, a mini Baby Ruth and a mini Almond Joy from my daughter’s Halloween bag to have as a snack while I wrote this blog post.  They were tasty but honestly, they will probably be the last candy of any kind I eat before Thanksgiving.  It’s not because I have some incredible will power.   I’m not fighting some urge to have chocolate.  I simply don’t crave it, and having it every now and again never changes that.

As my father has always told me, “everything in moderation” remembering of course that moderation will not work for some.

The bottom line for me is that those who write, tweet, or blog about health and fitness issues need to be careful with the size of the brushes with which they paint.  If there is one thing having an autistic daughter has taught me it is that we are all on a spectrum, and what may work for some may have the exact opposite effect on others.  Blanket statements rarely hold up under scrutiny because we are not carbon copies of each other.

We are all different.

***The one caveat I will put here is this – if you know that you have an addictive personality, or have problems with self-control, then it is probably good to avoid the cookies or the fast food altogether or at the very least keep them out of your home so you are not regularly tempted by them.  You have to know yourself – working with your strengths, protecting yourself from your weaknesses. 

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“…over the next two decades, 13 states could have [obesity] rates above 60 percent and 39 states could have rates above 50 percent. Mississippi is on pace to have the highest obesity rate at 66.7 percent…”
-September 18, 2012|By Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune reporter

I posted the article this quote is from yesterday on my Facebook page. I said something along the lines that I found these numbers to be incredible, as in unbelievable, as in it simply isn’t possible. Yet there they were. We are on track to having a quarter of our States with a large majority of their population obese, not just overweight mind you, obese; and nearly 80% of our States with a majority of their population obese. Two-thirds of the population of Mississippi on their way to a twilight riddled with preventable disease.  The most frightening part? Colorado would come in as the most fit State in the Nation…with a 45% obesity rate. FORTY-FIVE PERCENT!!!

Despite what appears to be heightened awareness, the vast majority continue to live in denial…

This is insane!

In response to this flabbergasting news, I hear a lot of people talk about government mandates – having the government take over what we eat or drink a la Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to rid New York City of over-sized sugary drinks. Part of me wants to jump on that bandwagon. If people aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves, well then someone has to take care of them, right?

Wrong.

Although the government should take on some role, maybe from an educational position, or, a bit more radically, making healthy choices available in areas of low access, no amount of government intervention will correct the problem until we, the people, decide we want to make a change.

If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of being asked for and then giving advice for healthy change, it’s that until a person is ready and willing to change, it ain’t gonna happen.  Too many people want instant change; transformation in a bottle; abs and buns of steel in a pill.  It takes work – not just at the gym, but in the choices of the fuel we choose, and if we ain’t ready and willing, change ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are shortening our lives, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you we’re increasing our cost of health care, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are killing our sex drive, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to stand at our child’s graduation, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to dance at our daughter’s or son’s wedding, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might get diabetes or cancer or suffer from heart disease, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that due to our obesity we could lose a foot or a leg, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I could tell you that we are setting OUR children up to follow in our footsteps…

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…does that at least stop you for a moment? Does that make you think, maybe, just maybe, this report doesn’t have to be true? That we don’t have to condemn our children to a life of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and amputations? Is that what we want to leave our children? Is that what we want to be our legacy?

I know I don’t.

The habits our children pick up from birth to 18 come primarily from us, and once those habits are programmed into their brains, they are very, very difficult to break. Does that mean there’s no hope for a 30 year old woman with a lifetime of bad habits?

Heavens no!

But it is way more difficult for her than if she had been brought up with good habits all her life.

Change is hard, but it’s easier for our kids – and once those good habits are learned, the foundation of healthful living is set.

Do you know where it starts?

It starts with us. Yes, the government can help set some standards; they can do what they have to do to make healthier choices available to us; they can help educate the population about healthful eating; but in the end, it comes down to you and me.

Yes…us.

Just like every vote counts in an election, what WE choose to do over the next 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 12 months, 6 months, 4 weeks, 7 days, 24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds, can make a difference.

Nothing sets a better example for our children than our own behavior.

Nothing, NOTHING, convinces a company to change their ways better than our wallet.

Are you ready and willing?

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