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WDYT- Diet and health in America

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After letting myself get a little jaded with the false promises of AIP for my thyroid disease I'm trying to find balance again in healthy eating. I am trying to focus on whole foods now and hitting somewhere between eating well but not letting it be my whole life. I'm annoyed at how complicated food is in America. I'm annoyed at the diet wars trying to vie for their place in the spotlight and even more annoyed with the faction that says it just doesn't matter. 

Is there any way to turn around eating in America? I  worry with the obesity rates other health problems keep growing, I worry about the world my children will be raising their children in. I worry that we are normalizing things that aren't normal (like my husband being told his recently diagnosed fatty liver is NBD). I'm p*ssed that we mock people trying to better food choices like it is some kind of joke.

 

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I don't really have an answer on the how to solve the world thing. One thing I'm pleased about is that healthy eating is now accessible to all, for people who want it. I used a nutritionist for years, and she started with real basic things, like eat a 3 cup salad every night, eat more variety, kwim? And I can walk into Walmart (not our nicer grocery stores, just Walmart) and I can get a box of really nice lettuce, some organic things to go on the salad, some nitrate-free meats for my ds' camp lunch, organic steel cut oats, just a variety of really decent foods. 

So if people WANT to eat well and affordably, it's there. But when I look at the carts when people are checking out, yeah it's scary. 

7 minutes ago, soror said:

we mock people trying to better food choices like it is some kind of joke.

You're seeing this? Usually people are jealous, because they can't make themselves eat better. 

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I don't see a way to fix America's issue. With the way corporations advertise it is a losing battle. They will always be ahead of us. On an individual level all we can do is train our brains to ignore the response those advertisements give us. And that is hard for someone new to it and surrounded by other people who also eat the American way.

@PeterPanI see a mix of jealousy, mockery, and sabotage. I have relatives who are actively trying to lose weight like me and sometimes when I lean on them for support if they've already eaten the thing I'm struggling to avoid they push me to just have it this once or just try a bite, etc. Fully knowing that for me right now one bite of certain foods will cause me to eat uncontrollably. It is like flipping a switch that says everything is ok to eat and I can't just flip it off.

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It really depends where you live.  The Doctors here are being pushed by the state and Medicare to help those who have chronic diseases. My state has a program going to reduce obesity, part of that is educational campaigns to reduce soda consumption, healthier school lunches, more movement opportunity in daycare children, wellness programs for state employees, money for sidewalks in communities so people can walk safely for exercise etc etc.  https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/prevention_agenda/2013-2017/plan/chronic_diseases/focus_area_1.htm#goals  if you want to know some of the details.  They don't appear to be pushing on the alcohol consumption but at least they've started on the soda and fruit juice. Do you watch the TV show Blue Bloods?  They have written in weight control to the script...one scene I saw featured a perp taunting a female officer on a rooftop...asking where's your partner...who appeared later huffing and puffing emerging from the stairwell...and another featured the Police Commissioner telling his men that the day of donuts and cops is over, everyone has get their weight in the zone and  the health care premiums have to go down.

I have had people personally mock my food choices, and I no longer have them in my social circle.  I cannot spend my weekends binging alcohol and junk food.  I didn't do the treatment for my genetic disease to turn around and become a buffalo because some people don't know the difference between real food and junk food, or never learned to prep and cook. 

I am seeing a change here.  The sidewalk and rail trail program has brought a lot of seniors out for an evening walk and families out for bicycling.  Walmart and other grocers have a lot more affordable choices...be nice if the farmer's market would get their prices out of the tourist zone, but until then I garden. The empty manufacturing sites here have had some of the warehouses turned into lettuce growing hydroponic operations and the produce is sold in the stores at reasonable prices.  The nonchain local grocer that buys local is seeing a demographic change as young people move out of the city to the condos along the rail lines and look for the equivalent of the Amish markets in the city.

Edited by HeighHo
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It is nice that healthy whole foods are becoming more readily available to more people. I wouldn't say everyone because inner cities still struggle greatly with food deserts. But with those whole foods also comes all the food advertised as healthy that isn't. 

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I hear you. Loud and clear. But I don't have any answers other than I think we all need to get over ourselves. Everyone thinks "their" way of eating is the right way, and anyone who doesn't do it their way is wrong. If you (generic) aren't avoiding or downright villifying some food group then you're not trendy. Get over it. It's truly not hard to say "this is what has worked for me" and then let it go. Be encouraging rather than beating people over the head to do it your (unproven) way. As far as I can tell about the only two things that are widely agreed upon are that (1) eating lots of veggies is good and (2) limiting/eliminating ultra processed food is good. Beyond that -- one can cite a study or guru of the month to support any way of eating. That doesn't mean it's right, and I really don't think lauding your WOE or guru of the month as "the" one to follow is impressing anyone or affecting their choices. For most people it's just making things more frustrating and complicated.

We need to get back some common sense and sense of moderation. But I fear those things are as gone as the dinosaurs.

Here's a related opinion piece from the NYT titled "Smash the Wellness Industry." One of my favorite paragraphs highlights the fact that the diet/wellness industry certainly has its own agenda, and is perhaps as damaging and dangerous as big corporations pushing their unhealthy processed foods:

Quote

The diet industry is a virus, and viruses are smart. It has survived all these decades by adapting, but it’s as dangerous as ever. In 2019, dieting presents itself as wellness and clean eating, duping modern feminists to participate under the guise of health. Wellness influencers attract sponsorships and hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram by tying before and after selfies to inspiring narratives. Go from sluggish to vibrant, insecure to confident, foggy-brained to cleareyed. But when you have to deprive, punish and isolate yourself to look “good,” it is impossible to feel good. I was my sickest and loneliest when I appeared my healthiest.

Edited by Pawz4me
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Diet is such an ingrained part of culture and community that it would take serious work to disentangle ourselves completely from the mess we've made.  Think of all the foods we've grown up eating: many were franken-foods popularized in the 50s and 60s, after the war when all technology was seen as something good and amazing.  More were developed in the dual parent income rise in the 70s and 80s.   This, combined with regional comfort foods, has tainted our very view of what food is and what we should allow in it.

More affluent areas often do have healthier options than poorer ones, which is not something I have seen in the rest of the world.  Dh had a class for a month down in Mississippi.  He had a plan before he got down there, but it was impossible for him to stick with.  The food was cheap, plentiful, and seriously unhealthy.  Even the salads he could order came drowned in dressing.  He gave up and started eating at a Greek restaurant 3x a week and finally got them to put the 1/2 cup of dressing on the side.  He paid a lot less for his meals than he would here, but the options here are much healthier.  The people here are willing to pay for several options at their grocery stores and locally sourced products at their restaurants.

AND, diet is often intertwined with exercise.  If you look around your town and there is next to non-existent public transportation, no biking or walking trails, and public "loitering" is kept to a low, you don't have healthy people.  Your town simply doesn't make it a priority.  We moved to Texas and the first thing I noticed was that the streets were unwalkable and their public bus system looked sketchy: no schedules, no real bus stops advertised (only a pole in many places in a very hot area).  They don't want people to walk.  BUT, the town of 100,000 had 5 Walmarts and as many fast food places as churches. It didn't want us to be healthy.  It wanted our money and our souls.

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It is easier and more accessible to eat cleaner these days. I can find organic at Aldi now. Some reasons I find it hard to eat clean:

  • It's not within my budget. 100 Days of Real Food did a budget challenge when her kids were 3 and 5 (2010). She allocated $125 - $150 per week just for food plus $20 for restaurants weekly. $125-$150 is my grocery budget for everything now (nine years later) and includes all toiletries and restaurant meals and I'm feeding 5 people, including 2 teens and a 12 year old. Coupons are available for almost any kind of processed food, but never fruits and veggies. I recently read a story where low income families eat way more junk food partly because it is something cheap that they don't have to say no to. I know I do this more than I should; I can't afford X thing, but I can get my kids some ice cream or a candy bar. 
  • Every healthy/real food cookbook I've checked out of the library lately has a HUGE contingent of Indian, Thai, Japanese, and Latin foods, which is awesome if your family are adventurous eaters. Unfortunately, that does not describe my family at all. I don't want to spend my (admittedly tiny) grocery budget on spices that I may never use again since I have no idea if anyone in my family will eat it. I wonder if we would be better off getting back to a much smaller variety of foods. I know I do much better when A is breakfast, B or C is lunch, and D, E or F is dinner. DH and kids hate that type of eating though.
  • We are too busy on the whole as a society. It's hard to spend 2-3 hours in the kitchen cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner even though I do not work outside the home. 
  • Processed food is clinically designed to taste better than kale any day. No matter how good the salad tastes, I'd still prefer the donut. That is a hard cycle to break. 
  • We allow corporations to advertise junk food on Tv, in schools, etc. We allow corporations to advertise junk food to kids, period.

 

Edit: That does not mean even though I find it very difficult to follow a clean diet I comment on others' diets. That's just rude, but I would assume it is a self-defense technique because they feel bad that you have figured it out and they are lost in the weeds. 

Edited by beckyjo
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One more thing to keep in mind is that we can talk about a more natural diet all day long, but what is healthy for one isn't healthy for another.  The dairy industry pushed hard for milk to be more of our diet.  Well, Native Americans, Mexicans, and many of African descent can't handle the lactose.  And I'm talking HIGH percentages here, like 70-95% as opposed to 15% of those of European descent.
What are the poorest demographics in the U.S.?  And what is pushed by WIC and school food programs?  By applying one standard of healthy across the board we're creating more problems than we're solving.

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1 hour ago, soror said:

After letting myself get a little jaded with the false promises of AIP for my thyroid disease I'm trying to find balance again in healthy eating. I am trying to focus on whole foods now and hitting somewhere between eating well but not letting it be my whole life. I'm annoyed at how complicated food is in America. I'm annoyed at the diet wars trying to vie for their place in the spotlight and even more annoyed with the faction that says it just doesn't matter. 

Is there any way to turn around eating in America? I  worry with the obesity rates other health problems keep growing, I worry about the world my children will be raising their children in. I worry that we are normalizing things that aren't normal (like my husband being told his recently diagnosed fatty liver is NBD). I'm p*ssed that we mock people trying to better food choices like it is some kind of joke.

 

I don’t see a way to fix it in the macro level. Someone is making a ton of $$ of obesity, and in a capitalist society such as this nothing trumps the profit motive. I live in a supposedly more natural sort of inclined area and I can’t go on field trips anymore bc seeing what people feed their children for lunch makes me depressed. Also, we do not value things like cooking, peeling, chopping, shopping in different stores etc. who has the time? time is all taken up by...work.  We asked the farmer we get our beef from recently for extra bones and he was astounded. No one takes the bones.

anyway, I can still control and hold the line in what happens in my house. 

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I think our culture is unnecessarily obsessed with food, diet and with trying to control other people.  Additionally, food choices are seen as moral choices, when much of the time they are personal preference or financial choices. I'm sad we mock people about food and weight, no matter where they fall on the weight spectrum.  I'm so tired of having this conversation, it comes up over and over and over. People need to get over food, period. Food is fuel. Figure out how to fuel your body as best you can, leave everyone else alone, unless they don't have any food to eat, then give them some of yours instead of just talking about how someone else needs to help them. Yes, I practice what I preach.

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13 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I think our culture is unnecessarily obsessed with food, diet and with trying to control other people.  Additionally, food choices are seen as moral choices, when much of the time they are personal preference or financial choices. I'm sad we mock people about food and weight, no matter where they fall on the weight spectrum.  I'm so tired of having this conversation, it comes up over and over and over. People need to get over food, period. Food is fuel. Figure out how to fuel your body as best you can, leave everyone else alone, unless they don't have any food to eat, then give them some of yours instead of just talking about how someone else needs to help them. Yes, I practice what I preach.

I could care less what other people do except when it normalizes things that just are not food and it affects me. Say, for a change, I’m a nice person one day and take all the neighborhood kids to an amusement park and they ask to drink soda with their already crappy lunch. Obviously they’re not drinking soda that day but my own little kid thinks this is a normal thing little kids consume. Same 100 birthday parties where I have to tell my kid, leave that goody bag or here is the nearest trash can. I am super happy to keep my “morality” to myself if everyone else did the same...

Edited by madteaparty

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23 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I think our culture is unnecessarily obsessed with food, diet and with trying to control other people.  Additionally, food choices are seen as moral choices, when much of the time they are personal preference or financial choices. I'm sad we mock people about food and weight, no matter where they fall on the weight spectrum.  I'm so tired of having this conversation, it comes up over and over and over. People need to get over food, period. Food is fuel. Figure out how to fuel your body as best you can, leave everyone else alone, unless they don't have any food to eat, then give them some of yours instead of just talking about how someone else needs to help them. Yes, I practice what I preach.

 

I'm not seeing food choices as personal preferences or financial now ..its more YOLO, a sensory experience combined with an aversion to manual labor.   Potato chips and sugary desserts trump garden salad and watermelon at the summer BBQ.  The sneer of "I don't cook" is still around if someone brings a 'homemade' dish or one that isn't processed food...and that dish won't be eaten.  YOLO demands a different sensory experience than that of a foodie.

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1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:

I hear you. Loud and clear. But I don't have any answers other than I think we all need to get over ourselves. Everyone thinks "their" way of eating is the right way, and anyone who doesn't do it their way is wrong. If you (generic) aren't avoiding or downright villifying some food group then you're not trendy. Get over it. It's truly not hard to say "this is what has worked for me" and then let it go. Be encouraging rather than beating people over the head to do it your (unproven) way. As far as I can tell about the only two things that are widely agreed upon are that (1) eating lots of veggies is good and (2) limiting/eliminating ultra processed food is good. Beyond that -- one can cite a study or guru of the month to support any way of eating. That doesn't mean it's right, and I really don't think lauding your WOE or guru of the month as "the" one to follow is impressing anyone or affecting their choices. For most people it's just making things more frustrating and complicated.

We need to get back some common sense and sense of moderation. But I fear those things are as gone as the dinosaurs.

Here's a related opinion piece from the NYT titled "Smash the Wellness Industry." One of my favorite paragraphs highlights the fact that the diet/wellness industry certainly has its own agenda, and is perhaps as damaging and dangerous as big corporations pushing their unhealthy processed foods:

Oh, I LOVE that article so much. So, many food babes selling their "wellness" brand, gah I hate it. 

I absolutely think we absolutely do not need "wellness" evangelizing and fat/food shaming but I am vehemently against ignoring the problem b/c the junk food industry, advertisers, profiteering diet pushers, fast food companies are not going to keep quiet. We absolutely were better off decades ago, even with imperfect food but I don't see that we'll get back there without some work.  What will be effective? I don't see that pushing these so-called perfect diets are going to get us there, although the influence of some has increased the availability of various whole foods.

 

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I get mocked all the time for healthy eating and exercise.  And I can't talk about it (my hobby of taking care of myself) because then folks act like I'm being vain or self-righteous.  The truth is that my life has improved dramatically (physically and emotionally) after almost 2 years of healthy choices.  But almost everyone I know has this concept that they will age badly and there's nothing they can do about it.  I've even heard doctors with that mentality.  I have no idea how to fix this kind of thing.  Most people don't believe self improvement is possible and therefore have convinced themselves it's undesirable.  I don't get it!

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You can't change "America."  

As madteaparty says above, you can control what happens in your house.  Inoculate your kids against advertising - have critical discussions about what advertisers are claiming vs what's true, etc.  I'd say the same now about social media "influencers" which were not a thing when my kids were young. 

I don't see people mocking others about their efforts to eat well.  I see people generally applauding others' efforts, even if they are not making similar efforts. If someone wants to gush to me how great her Keto diet is going, fine. I'll listen and be happy it's working for her.  But, I'm not going to follow it - you will have to pry my grains out of my cold dead hands. 

What bothers me more is the way people view food as a moral choice.  "Should I be good and have a salad, or be bad and have the burger?"  I hear that a lot from women, and frankly it enrages me inside. Your food choices don't make you good or bad.  And, the burger may be just as good a choice, depending on the ingredients of the salad and what other food you are eating that day/week/in general. 

I don't necessarily agree that food is simply fuel.  I mean, sure, it is. But there are some pretty lovely traditions around food, and good food shared with people is a beautiful thing.  There has to be a balance, of course - every day can't be a celebration.  I enjoy sharing recipes and food talk with people, and feeding people. But I don't push unhealthy food on anyone. 

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I think there is a moral dimension to food.  If I make a lot of unhealthy decisions, they have ramifications outside myself.  My health affects my husband, children, and parents.  Having treats occasionally doesn't make someone "bad."  But if you know that you are reinforcing a habit of eating that weakens you and will over time adversely affect the ones you love, I do think that is "bad."  

Let's say I have X amount of money, Y amount of time, and Z access to food.  If I consistently and knowingly make less than wise choices with those resources, that habit has a moral dimension to it.

Edited to add: I don't comment on other people's diets or try to evangelize others.  If someone were to ask me for help, I would gladly give advice.

Edited by IvyInFlorida
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3 hours ago, IvyInFlorida said:

I think there is a moral dimension to food.  If I make a lot of unhealthy decisions, they have ramifications outside myself.  My health affects my husband, children, and parents.  Having treats occasionally doesn't make someone "bad."  But if you know that you are reinforcing a habit of eating that weakens you and will over time adversely affect the ones you love, I do think that is "bad."  

Let's say I have X amount of money, Y amount of time, and Z access to food.  If I consistently and knowingly make less than wise choices with those resources, that habit has a moral dimension to it.

Edited to add: I don't comment on other people's diets or try to evangelize others.  If someone were to ask me for help, I would gladly give advice.

 

That would be true for anything though. We all make less than ideal choices in life--I don't, for example, spend every waking moment trying to remedy the circumstances of poverty stricken children in inner cities, or in South America, or in my own town. I don't walk or bike everywhere to minimize my carbon footprint. I don't make sure my children practice musical instruments two hours a day to maximize brain development. I knowingly allow my two year old to watch several hours of videos each week in spite of scientific evidence that it is not developmentally ideal to do so.

I think we can say that there is a moral dimension to every single decision we make in life, but we cannot expect of ourselves or others that we will always or even usually make the optimal moral choice (if anyone could even sort that out).

Edited by maize
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I think judgement from people generally comes from their personal demons.  And I've seen it for not eating healthy.  But I've also seen in for the opposite when I've needed to have an extremely limited diet.  Or for homeschooling.  Or for having a 3 year old not yet potty trained.  Or for choosing to raise kids in an urban setting.  Or for doing the right kind of workouts. Etc etc etc.  People should recognize what's about them and what isn't about them and learn to keep their mouths shut about things that don't pertain to them.  I think the smash the wellness industry is a great article.   I assume people are doing the best they can with the time, tools, and resources they have available to them at any given time.  No one is perfect.  A lot of health and wellness stuff is not backed up by years of scientific research.  I try to buy leaning toward whole foods.  We get a CSA.  We eat out too much running teens around.  I try to spend some time up on my feet moving every day.  That's what I can do right now.  I'm still fat.  My family isn't.  I think there is a lot we don't know about the digestive and the autoimmune systems and how these systems get mucked up.   How many times has the food pyramid changed in my life time?  

I also think the idea that healthy food is affordable and accessible and easy for everyone now is completely false.  Having the guidance and advice of a nutritionist and the ability to navigate a grocery store packed with easy cheap processed food for the few gems in the bunch isn't easy for a family that is barely making ends meet.   And I say that is someone who is quite over privileged when it comes to grocery budget.   

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I dunno, I guess I do see a shift in cleaner eating habits...  Change is always slow.  I don't let other people's eating habits bug me;  we work on having healthy balanced eating habits within our family.   I see a lot of other people doing that too.  Much more than when I was growing up in the 60's!  I think as more people do that, the shift will continue.  I think those living in poverty often have the most difficult times with these shifts, because generally things are more expensive until it becomes the norm.

I agree with Sorror though that it's up to us to keep pushing the big food industries, because if we don't, who will?

I do think there's a big range of diets that are just fine.

I also most definitely think that food is more than just fuel!  We have so many social structures that center around it.  Our whole day and family gatherings often center around it!  

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I think we will continue to fail as a nation until we revolt against the “kid food” culture of chicken nuggets and french fries which grows into a teen diet of pizza, burgers and donuts, setting a trajectory for failure as adults. 

Sadly, it is in youth activities where I see this so frequently - school (Private) has a daily pizza option. Church youth group has donuts, ice cream and pizza all the time. It’s hard to fight against, hard to be the one teen abstaining without standing out. 

And yes, healthy food in America is widely accessible, but not necessarily for those on a restricted income. Fresh produce isn’t inexpensive, and much clean lean protein comes at a premium cost. 

I don’t have a solution, but I feel the pain. The only way we’ve been able to do this is by getting most of our kids out of the house and on their own, so I have capacity in both my time and dollar budgets to focus on meal planning and prep. 

Edited by Seasider too
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54 minutes ago, marbel said:

 

What bothers me more is the way people view food as a moral choice.  "Should I be good and have a salad, or be bad and have the burger?"  I hear that a lot from women, and frankly it enrages me inside. Your food choices don't make you good or bad.  And, the burger may be just as good a choice, depending on the ingredients of the salad and what other food you are eating that day/week/in general. 

True story--I had lunch last Saturday with my best friends. We've known each other for decades. One friend and I chose the salad bar (and although it's irrelevant the other two got pizza). My friend has always struggled with insecurity issues. About everything, not just about food. She's only ever been mildly overweight at most, now she's quite thin. She weighs in at WW regularly. She commented on my salad bar choices the whole time, comparing them to hers. She asked me why I chose Romaine and passed on the field greens (I don't really like them, and they tend to stick to the inside of my mouth). Then she commented on the dressing. "Oh, you got oil and vinegar. I should have." I don't know what kind of dressing she got--I wasn't paying attention to anything but myself--but I assume it was something less healthy/higher calorie. We went back for seconds and she got some banana pudding and I got a bit more pineapple and cottage cheese. I got them because they were what I wanted, not because I was avoiding the desserts. And she commented on that, bashing herself for her "bad" choices. I so wish she could have just enjoyed her own food rather than comparing.

As far as affordability -- The study about an ultra processed diet versus a minimally processed one that came out a week or two ago concluded that the minimally processed diet cost forty percent more than the ultra processed one. Forty percent more. And from what I remember their minimally processed foods weren't extravagant by any stretch of the imagination. That would be a difficult to impossible stretch for many food budgets. And while I know some people claim they can whip out a super duper healthy, home cooked meal in thirty minutes w/o breaking a sweat I don't believe most people can achieve that. I know I sure can't, and I think I'm a fairly skilled cook. I think the time factor is a huge deal for many people, especially in the majority of families where both parents work. There are many sides to the problem, and the biggest obstacles probably vary from person to person/family to family.

Edited by Pawz4me
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1 hour ago, TechWife said:

I think our culture is unnecessarily obsessed with food, diet and with trying to control other people.  Additionally, food choices are seen as moral choices, when much of the time they are personal preference or financial choices. I'm sad we mock people about food and weight, no matter where they fall on the weight spectrum.  I'm so tired of having this conversation, it comes up over and over and over. People need to get over food, period. Food is fuel. Figure out how to fuel your body as best you can, leave everyone else alone, unless they don't have any food to eat, then give them some of yours instead of just talking about how someone else needs to help them. Yes, I practice what I preach.

This is the only thing that needs to be said on this topic, ever.

I live with a loved one who struggles with anorexia and I am so tired of hearing everyone and their brother have an opinion about what anyone eats.  I am tired of hearing that 1200-1500 calories a day is reasonable for women. Go read about the Minnesota Starvation Experiments.

Food choices are NOT moral choices. Food has no morality.

The diet industry is evil and is preying on our insecurities.  Follow the money.

Free yourself, buy this book.

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6 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

 

I also think the idea that healthy food is affordable and accessible and easy for everyone now is completely false.  Having the guidance and advice of a nutritionist and the ability to navigate a grocery store packed with easy cheap processed food for the few gems in the bunch isn't easy for a family that is barely making ends meet.   And I say that is someone who is quite over privileged when it comes to grocery budget.   

Not to mention trying to overthrow a life's worth of teaching in favor of new and adapting the body as well.  If we grow up cooking one way and thinking one thing tastes good, it takes a lot of work to change that and throwing out food in the process.

Small case in point: ds hated the dining options at his college.  He took to using his limited cash at the grocery store to supplement his "flex points", the part of the dining plan that could be used at the fast food places. And being limited in knowing how to cook with what he had there,  he bought microwave junk, sodas, etc. Well, he came home with serious acne issues, bad enough that the doctor took one look and prescribed the strongest treatment possible.  Since the side effects were going to be pretty bad, too (joint pain among them), I convinced him to wait on the prescription for 2 months, cut out all processed sugars and return to a fresh food diet, and take a supplement.  Besides never needing to fill the prescription, he found that after a while, our regular diet tasted REALLY good!  These were foods he was ambivalent about 6 months earlier or downright disliked that he loves now.  And I wasn't asking him to eat plain grilled chicken - dh is an amazing cook and could be a chef if he wanted.  He knows how to manipulate flavors and textures.  So ds was really being asked to try some of the best that is available.  But it meant retraining his taste buds and being able to taste without it being masked in heavy sugars and salt.

Not everyone has the ability to spend money on "healthy" meals that are different from what they know and may not like.  It took dh years to shake off the diet he grew up with: canned, boxed, and as quick/cheap as possible.  YEARS.  I think back to my childhood: mostly homemade/locally sourced, a school that made lunches from scratch each day, canned meaning what my mom produced rows of in late August...and I look at what kids get now: quick meaning on the way home, no school kitchen being used to actually cook, and things coming in tubes or pouches to eat.  They no longer use utensils for most foods and miss the step of savoring/having the aroma around to sate the brain before they even start to eat.  So when kids are fed like this for 1-2 meals a day, it's even harder for parents to tackle the third meal at home in a healthy way.

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Doing whole 30 has opened my eyes to how much sugar is in absolutely everything. 

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2 hours ago, madteaparty said:

I don’t see a way to fix it in the macro level. Someone is making a ton of $$ of obesity, and in a capitalist society such as this nothing trumps the profit motive. I live in a supposedly more natural sort of inclined area and I can’t go on field trips anymore bc seeing what people feed their children for lunch makes me depressed. Also, we do not value things like cooking, peeling, chopping, shopping in different stores etc. who has the time? time is all taken up by...work.  We asked the farmer we get our beef from recently for extra bones and he was astounded. No one takes the bones.

anyway, I can still control and hold the line in what happens in my house. 

 

Yes, it takes a lot more effort for my generation and the younger generation to eat well as in nourishing food than it did my Grandmother's generation. 

I am also concerned with the ever rising amount of various chemicals found everywhere, water, food, air, and the endocrine disruption they cause. So many young men look like women these days with hips and enlarged chests. I am wondering if this is not all due to the amount of food they consume but rather what kind of food they eat - synthetic estrogens, PFOA's, etc.

And corporate America does not care how sick and overweight we are getting. With many households being dual income or a general hectic lifestyle (sometimes by our own choice), the habit of chopping, preserving and carefully selecting food, making bone broth, etc., has nearly become extinct.

Edited by Liz CA
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3 hours ago, hjffkj said:

It is nice that healthy whole foods are becoming more readily available to more people. I wouldn't say everyone because inner cities still struggle greatly with food deserts. But with those whole foods also comes all the food advertised as healthy that isn't. 

The food bank locally has fresh, seasonal fruit and veggies available, but they are hard to handle for the little outlets like ours.

Food distribution sites tilt toward the less perishable stuff.

We have always taken potatoes and onions.  Finally someone donated a big fridge to us, and now we can take things like mushrooms, cabbage, fennel, cheese, tomatoes, citrus, etc.  That is HUGE but it’s also kind of unusual.

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26 minutes ago, sassenach said:

Doing whole 30 has opened my eyes to how much sugar is in absolutely everything. 

Salt, too.  Did you know that there is actually salt in soda?  It makes people thirstier so they drink more.  Disgusting.

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1 hour ago, maize said:

 

That would be true for anything though. We all make less than ideal choices in life--I don't, for example, spend every waking moment trying to remedy the circumstances of poverty stricken children in inner cities, or in South America, or in my own town. I don't walk or bike everywhere to minimize my carbon footprint. I don't make sure my children practice musical instruments two hours a day to maximize brain development. I knowingly allow my two year old to watch several hours of videos each week in spite of scientific evidence that it is not developmentally ideal to do so.

I think we can say that there is a moral dimension to every single decision we make in life, but we cannot expect of ourselves or others that we will always or even usually make the optimal moral choice (of anyone could even sort that out).

Agree 100%.

We do the best that we can with food given our budget, health and time constraints.  I love researching food science and restrict our children's sugar intake (though not drastically). Ironically enough I've gotten more criticism from health foodies for things like allowing my kids to eat treats at parties than people who eat SAD for not allowing junk food day to day.  And frankly I get tired of being offered the latest diet as the solution to all my problems: you have a headache?  Have you tried Whole30?  Ugh, sometimes I'm just tired and have a headache!  But, it goes the other way too: "You have four kids, of course you're tired!" (from a doctor of all people!) as if there's nothing I can do (like exercise or avoiding simple carbs) to increase my energy.

OP, I'm definitely with you on just trying to eat whole foods and not let food consume my life.  I've been there, done that and it wasn't pretty and my family/friends honestly did not appreciate it.  Yes, food makes a huge difference in health, but if relatives want to visit with us over an all-you-can-eat buffet I'm not going to limit myself to the salad bar or do low carb on that day nor will I keep my kids away from the cotton candy machine.  But day to day I just try to be mindful of making sure we eat mostly real foods even if things like Ritz crackers have sneaked in to our house over the years.

BTW, I've watched elderly relatives struggle with all sorts of chronic health problems & severe diabetes.  At first my stance was something along the lines: you have to eat better, how can you keep doing this to yourself? I cringe at that now, how could I have been so callous and unkind?  I mean, if all you've known all your life is the propaganda that margarine is good and butter is bad is scientific evidence to the contrary presented at the age 70 really going to make a difference?

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1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:

<snip>

I got them [pineapple and cottage cheese] because they were what I wanted, not because I was avoiding the desserts. And she commented on that, bashing herself for her "bad" choices. I so wish she could have just enjoyed her own food rather than comparing.

<snip>

There are a few women friends I dislike eating with.  I feel like there is a subtext to all the foods, and I can never pick the right thing.  If I order something healthful, they can't order the less-healthful thing they want, or, if they ordered first, they regret their bad choice. If I order something unhealthful, they sigh and talk about how lucky I am that I can eat that and not be overweight.  (But I am overweight, 20-30 pounds depending on the chart.)   I would like people to enjoy the food they order, but I would also like to enjoy mine without my dining companions comparing.  

 

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2 hours ago, retiredHSmom said:

Food choices are NOT moral choices. Food has no morality.

 

  When the provider of the food makes the choice to offer junk rather than nutrition, it's a moral decision.  The provider has deliberately chosen not to do the right thing - offer a nutritious food that the body can benefit from. They know full well that their behavior is wrong, and they rationalize their behavior choice away with many excuses. 

 

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34 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

  When the provider of the food makes the choice to offer junk rather than nutrition, it's a moral decision.  The provider has deliberately chosen not to do the right thing - offer a nutritious food that the body can benefit from. They know full well that their behavior is wrong, and they rationalize their behavior choice away with many excuses. 

 

Or there is a higher moral issue at stake (like maintaining a good relationship, traditional notions of hospitality, etc).  Or there are other factors involved that limit their ability to offer the most nutritious food (like there not even being a consensus on what is nutritious these days anyway).

So, someone comes over to my house and I offer soup beans and corn bread (made with GMO cornmeal and white flour no less!) because that's all we can afford but it's lovingly prepared and served are they really going to assume that I'm making a decision to harm them just because they're on a low-carb diet and I'm not serving a sous vide prepared streak and cauliflower?  For that matter, if I serve steak instead and the cauliflower has a buttery sauce and the guest is convinced that fat is evil I'm somehow morally at fault?  And if my Aspie cousin who only eats frozen pizza comes over and that's what I serve him because I want him to feel at ease and welcome I'm just rationalizing?  Or for that matter, when I have my baby I know there are certain people who will send me a casserole made with canned cream of whatever soups.   I can't imagine being anything but grateful and think well of the thoughtful hands that prepared it and I will definitely serve it to my family! 

Come on, seriously? Excuses?

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53 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

  When the provider of the food makes the choice to offer junk rather than nutrition, it's a moral decision.  The provider has deliberately chosen not to do the right thing - offer a nutritious food that the body can benefit from. They know full well that their behavior is wrong, and they rationalize their behavior choice away with many excuses. 

 

This is going too far.

Junk can be a treat, and the idea of what constitutes good nutrition has been very dynamic.  The only thing there is consensus on is leafy green veggies.

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14 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

This is going too far.

Junk can be a treat, and the idea of what constitutes good nutrition has been very dynamic.  The only thing there is consensus on is leafy green veggies.

 

There is consensus on whole foods vs highly processed foods.

There is consensus on sugar.

Most folks who are obese are not in the category of looking at gmo vs non gmo versions or organic vs inorganic.  Some have genetic issues, some are addicted to sugar, some have dosed themselves with so many lipids they give themselves cardio problems.  

One has a moral obligation to serve nutritious food if one is providing the meal and one has choice.  Treats do not have to be nonnutritious food...they can be things that are rare and whole foods for ex. Kohlrabi here is a treat...its priced at $1 each. 

Edited by HeighHo
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3 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

There is consensus on sugar.

There was a consensus on fat in the 80's and 90's and consensus on cholesterol too. I remember hearing on the news, that no one should eat more than one egg a week. We are now beginning to realize that fat isn't so bad and that most people filled the place fats had held with sugar.  Eggs are no longer vilified either. I do not believe the "consensus"

No food is bad or evil, especially if it is not made in a lab.  Food is not moral or immoral.  

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1 minute ago, retiredHSmom said:

There was a consensus on fat in the 80's and 90's and consensus on cholesterol too. I remember hearing on the news, that no one should eat more than one egg a week. We are now beginning to realize that fat isn't so bad and that most people filled the place fats had held with sugar.  Eggs are no longer vilified either. I do not believe the "consensus"

No food is bad or evil, especially if it is not made in a lab.  Food is not moral or immoral.  

 

Choices are moral or immoral.  The choice is junk food or nutritious food. 

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9 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

Most folks who are obese are not in the category of looking at gmo vs non gmo versions or organic vs inorganic.  Some have genetic issues, some are addicted to sugar, some have dosed themselves with so many lipids they give themselves cardio problems.  

Judgemental much?  Yep, its all fat peoples' fault for being so stupid.

And sugar is not addictive. The study that said it was, yeah they hadn't fed the rats for 12 hours and then gave them a choice of cocaine or sugar.  One is non-nutritive.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/25/is-sugar-really-as-addictive-as-cocaine-scientists-row-over-effect-on-body-and-brain

https://www.psychiatry.cam.ac.uk/blog/2016/07/21/sugar-addictive-probably-not-say-cambridge-neuroscientists/

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55 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

There is consensus on whole foods vs highly processed foods.

There is consensus on sugar.

Most folks who are obese are not in the category of looking at gmo vs non gmo versions or organic vs inorganic.  Some have genetic issues, some are addicted to sugar, some have dosed themselves with so many lipids they give themselves cardio problems.  

One has a moral obligation to serve nutritious food if one is providing the meal and one has choice.  Treats do not have to be nonnutritious food...they can be things that are rare and whole foods for ex. Kohlrabi here is a treat...its priced at $1 each. 

Actually there is not even a consensus on sugar or whole foods.  Whole, natural sugars (like honey, maple syrup, etc) and fruit juices are still sugar: should we never serve these?  For that matter, some people can't tolerate gluten and many gluten-free replacements are highly processed, am I better off serving my homemade whole wheat bread to my gluten-intolerant guests?  The Trim Healthy Mama diet encourages the use of fillers like xanthan gum and highly processed stevia, yet it is generally considered a "whole-foods" diet.  Even Sally Fallon has a recipe for a white flour pie crust in her otherwise dictatorial Nourishing Traditions.

Personally, I consider liver and homemade gravlox treats.  My home birth midwife gives me a hard time for eating both during pregnancy but she's never once condemned the sweet lactation cookies (made with store bought chocolate chips!) I make for after birth.

At the end of the day I am not a food puritan and I make compromises: that's not rationalizing that's choosing between natural human goods.  If my children have friends over I will definitely not be serving kohlrabi for desert (I want their friends to come back!), but I will probably serve fruit juice pops and whole wheat pumpkin muffins.  Both of which could potentially contribute to cavities and childhood obesity.  I'd never force anyone to eat them though...

ETA: I think I understand what you're trying to say, it's just that I honestly don't think that the solution to America's food issues is placing more of a burden on people than there needs to be.  At the end of the day, we'd all be better off giving each other more grace when it comes to food.

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I think it is possible to see improvement, and it begins one day, one family at a time.  One extremely helpful resources can be found online at Oldways (a nonprofit organization) that looks at global traditional diets (yes, plural!) and promotes ALL of them.   Very refreshing to encounter "There's more than one way to eat healthy and ENJOY your food!".

Oldways also rounded up a bunch of the well-known diet professionals--from all walks--Paleo, Mediterranean, Plants-Only, etc, for a Common Ground nutrition conference to encourage leading nutritional experts of all stripes to come up with a consensus of what to promote to avoid the rampant confusion facing modern Americans.

Lots of interesting reading there.  I suggest beginning with the Oldways Traditional diet page:  https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets, followed by the Common Ground Page:  https://oldwayspt.org/programs/oldways-common-ground,  and finish (or start, to pique your interest!) with a letter written by one of the participants in how to look at the different emphasis between say a "low-fat plant diet" and the "high-fat Mediterranean diet" :  Expert Opinion on Dietary Fat--Is the Apparent Disagreement Real?

Oldways, and organizations like it, give me hope for the future.

Edited by vmsurbat1
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5 hours ago, HeighHo said:

 

I'm not seeing food choices as personal preferences or financial now ..its more YOLO, a sensory experience combined with an aversion to manual labor.   Potato chips and sugary desserts trump garden salad and watermelon at the summer BBQ.  The sneer of "I don't cook" is still around if someone brings a 'homemade' dish or one that isn't processed food...and that dish won't be eaten.  YOLO demands a different sensory experience than that of a foodie.

 

Sensory experiences and aversion to manual labor fall under personal preferences. I have a son with ASD, I know all about oral sensitivities and realize for some they aren't preferences, but requirements. However, for the majority of our population the sensory experience provided by food leads to personal preferences. The preference not to cook means people prefer to spend their time in ways other than cooking.

If you mean YOLO as being "you only live once" - than I don't see what that has to do with whether or not someone is a foodie. There are foodies who eat "healthy" food and foodies that eat "unhealthy" food. I live with one who used to eat "unhealthy" food and now eats "healthy" food. He is every bit of a foodie now as he used to be, his interest is just expressed differently.

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43 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

Choices are moral or immoral.  The choice is junk food or nutritious food. 

 

My son has ASD. There have been some years where my "moral" choice was allowing him to eat  "junk" food or allowing him to starve, because failure to thrive was a real risk.  So, you might want to stop where you are.

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22 minutes ago, TechWife said:

 

Sensory experiences and aversion to manual labor fall under personal preferences. I have a son with ASD, I know all about oral sensitivities and realize for some they aren't preferences, but requirements. However, for the majority of our population the sensory experience provided by food leads to personal preferences. The preference not to cook means people prefer to spend their time in ways other than cooking.

If you mean YOLO as being "you only live once" - than I don't see what that has to do with whether or not someone is a foodie. There are foodies who eat "healthy" food and foodies that eat "unhealthy" food. I live with one who used to eat "unhealthy" food and now eats "healthy" food. He is every bit of a foodie now as he used to be, his interest is just expressed differently.

 

I agree. Many people who feel "you only live once" want that one life to be as long and healthy as possible, so they eat well as one way of supporting that. I don't believe I've ever met anyone whose "yolo" philosophy was to eat as much junk as possible. 

Of course, most people also know that things don't always work out the way they expect, so even the most healthy eaters can be stricken with disease.  But my experience and observation lead me to believe that most people do the best they can. 

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Thank you all so much for the thoughts, even those differing from my mine (by a mile).

 And I started to add more but my other thoughts are more beneficial to myself than anyone else.

 

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Maybe we could teach kids how to cook in school when they grow up. I mean..all through school.

 

Seriously..I want to learn how to make fresh vegetables from scratch. I want to make things from fresh veggies. I can make vegetable soup. I can eat fresh veggies. That is it. Sometimes, I will see someone cooking something super yummy looking, usually someone who is from the eastern part of this world, and I want to know how to make the food. I try to hint "wow, that looks so good! I would love to know how to make it" and "I wish I could make something like that." No one ever offers to teach me. Cooking shows...they don't help me. Even western food cook books skip over "simple" steps that they just assume everyone knows. 

 

If kids get as fluent in cooking as they are expected to in anything else growing up (I know the results differ greatly from child to child, but give the kids a chance to even try) then maybe people will grow a garden and cook what comes out of it. 

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9 hours ago, marbel said:

You can't change "America."  

As madteaparty says above, you can control what happens in your house.  Inoculate your kids against advertising - have critical discussions about what advertisers are claiming vs what's true, etc.  I'd say the same now about social media "influencers" which were not a thing when my kids were young. 

I don't see people mocking others about their efforts to eat well.  I see people generally applauding others' efforts, even if they are not making similar efforts. If someone wants to gush to me how great her Keto diet is going, fine. I'll listen and be happy it's working for her.  But, I'm not going to follow it - you will have to pry my grains out of my cold dead hands. 

What bothers me more is the way people view food as a moral choice.  "Should I be good and have a salad, or be bad and have the burger?"  I hear that a lot from women, and frankly it enrages me inside. Your food choices don't make you good or bad.  And, the burger may be just as good a choice, depending on the ingredients of the salad and what other food you are eating that day/week/in general. 

I don't necessarily agree that food is simply fuel.  I mean, sure, it is. But there are some pretty lovely traditions around food, and good food shared with people is a beautiful thing.  There has to be a balance, of course - every day can't be a celebration.  I enjoy sharing recipes and food talk with people, and feeding people. But I don't push unhealthy food on anyone. 

Absolutely agree on “good food/bad food” or “I’m being bad/cheat day, etc.” Ugh! I despise that narrative! I was at the beach house and was heading to the grocery store and my SIL asked, with profuse apologies for “being bad”, if I would please get her a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. What’s the big apology for? What the big “being bad” narrative for? *I* don’t judge what she wants for a dessert. BTW, she is thin, not that that really should make a difference; just saying the whole “being bad” thing is not in re: she is large and feels some shame about having a dessert. She is THIN and feels shame about the dessert. 

I also agree that food is not merely fuel. It is extremely tied to culture, family, friends, celebration and pleasure. 

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1 hour ago, Janeway said:

<snip>

Seriously..I want to learn how to make fresh vegetables from scratch. I want to make things from fresh veggies. I can make vegetable soup. I can eat fresh veggies. That is it. Sometimes, I will see someone cooking something super yummy looking, usually someone who is from the eastern part of this world, and I want to know how to make the food. I try to hint "wow, that looks so good! I would love to know how to make it" and "I wish I could make something like that." No one ever offers to teach me. Cooking shows...they don't help me. Even western food cook books skip over "simple" steps that they just assume everyone knows. 

<snip>

Though I can't think of any titles right now, I am quite sure I have seen 'beginner' cookbooks that show how to cook something every step of the way.

I've also seen cooking classes offered at some large grocery stores.  Many years ago I took a community college course in basic cooking, and I see such classes offered by local parks and rec departments from time to time. 

There are ways to learn how to cook. Also, asking someone directly "can you come to my house sometime and show me how to cook this?" may work better than say "I wish I could make something  like that" which people may not interpret as a request for help but rather a vague sort of compliment.  ETA: and you can sound more serious by saying  that you would really like to do it, and asking for a grocery list so you can buy the ingredients ahead of time.

Edited by marbel
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I think we could do a lot of things, idk how likely any of them are in the current political climate though:

  • go back to teaching home economics in school, as a required 1 year class in high school along with a semester class on personal finance.  Specifically focusing on "adulting" and easy healthy, cheap, low-processed meals cooked at home.  Especially ones in slow cookers or instant pots and batch cooking because chances are many children will end up single parents and/or working mothers.
  • give people a minimum of two months of continuous glucose monitoring and a picture food diary so they can see for themselves which foods they personally should eat and which foods they shouldn't.
  • stop subsidizing corn and other crops and if anything, subsidize whole real plant foods instead.
  • ban artificial food additives like the sort of fake flavors in highly processed foods that make them addictive.
  • require all high school students to read a couple books like Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us and The Obesity Code.
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Chiming in to say I agree that the good food/bad food and morality associated with food choices needs to go. As someone in recovery for an eating disorder, I can attest that they do far more harm than good.

I'd like to reign in the food industry, especially its marketing and underhanded manipulation tactics that are akin to what tobacco companies do. But I want the diet/wellness industry to collapse too. It's just as much to blame for the issues we have now.

I am still working through this book (really a collection of essays/blog posts) myself, but for anyone who's interested in diet culture, it's free for download: Redefining Wellness: The Ultimate Diet-Free Guide for Teens and Families.

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6 hours ago, marbel said:

There are a few women friends I dislike eating with.  I feel like there is a subtext to all the foods, and I can never pick the right thing.  If I order something healthful, they can't order the less-healthful thing they want, or, if they ordered first, they regret their bad choice. If I order something unhealthful, they sigh and talk about how lucky I am that I can eat that and not be overweight.  (But I am overweight, 20-30 pounds depending on the chart.)   I would like people to enjoy the food they order, but I would also like to enjoy mine without my dining companions comparing.  

 

Exactly. A subtext...that is the perfect description. If I eat with a group of other women, I am often oblivious about what people are choosing vs. what I am choosing - until someone makes a deal over it. Here I am, just thinking, “Oh, swordfish and veggies! I haven’t had that in a while...” or maybe, “Meatball sub! Yummy! I haven’t had that in a while...” but the friend is interpreting it as full of meaning. There’s no meaning! I’m just choosing the food I wish to eat! 

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4 hours ago, TechWife said:

 

My son has ASD. There have been some years where my "moral" choice was allowing him to eat  "junk" food or allowing him to starve, because failure to thrive was a real risk.  So, you might want to stop where you are.

Or maybe a little sooner.

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