The topic of nutrition has been brewing in my mind for the past couple of weeks, and then today’s one word prompt of Healthy popped up. Last night I was watching the documentary Sugar Coated on Netflix. And in church this morning, part of the sermon addressed time; that which we deem important we will make time for.
In the documentary, a clip of teens attending an obesity conference in Canada are depicted. They are from the “fattest city in America.” Guess what city?
Corpus Christi, TX.
My jaw dropped. We are currently stationed here in Corpus. And while my jaw dropped, I didn’t find it altogether surprising. As a fitness professional – I see it every single day. The title of “fattest city,” which surely no one is aiming for, was announced in 2010 in Men’s Health magazine. Reading a Houston Chronicle article about the unwanted title, city officials were quick to point out that since that time, there have been numerous efforts put into place to shake the moniker. Things like bike trails and lanes, pedestrian paths and fun runs. What struck me was that food wasn’t addressed in the pursuit of health. Diabetes rates are TWICE the national average here. Corpus is the birthplace of Whataburger. I also discovered that we have more fast food restaurants per capita than anywhere else. I did an experiment last year when I drove from my house to the local grocery store – a distance of 2 miles. I counted the fast food restaurants. There were 17. SEVENTEEN in 2 miles! That’s insane!
While Corpus may be the extreme – it’s not just a problem here. It’s everywhere. It’s the fitness industry as a whole. Social media abounds with the basic message: “Overweight? Move more.” Memes that give caloric equivalents to sugary, junk and processed foods. Eat a cake? No problem! Just do 127 burpees and you’ll be fine. (No, you won’t.) Doesn’t anybody find it curious that during the first years in office, First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutrition campaign was quickly shifted over to “Let’s Move!” It is a focus on the movement instead of the food we are putting into our bodies. And it’s a problem.
Food is a big deal. It’s a bigger deal than people realize. It’s a bigger deal than I realized, getting my own wake up call discovering that I was pre diabetic. If you are pursuing a healthy life or trying to lose weight, nutrition is the flip side of the fitness coin. You cannot pursue one successfully without the other. But the deck is often stacked. The food industry is for profit. The more product people buy, the more money they make. It makes perfect business sense to create products as palatable, even addictive, as possible. It gets us to buy more. Making money is not a problem. Doing so at the expense of an unknowing population is wrong.
What I find when I work with clients, when I watch television and notice advertisements, we are inundated with the message, “There’s never enough time.”
This commercial from KFC is a classic example. Our culture worships busy. We are important because we are busy. It means we have a life. It means we are successful. It means we just simply can’t be bothered to cook. We have to run our precious darlings to football practice, and soccer practice, and dance recitals and swim lessons and on and on and on. A junior high football practice can run for 3 hours! 4-7pm. Right through dinner! When the heck are these kids supposed to eat? Do homework? Have down time? “Oh we make it work,” say parents who regularly run ragged around family members’ insane schedules. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? Do you honestly think your kid is going to play in the NBA? (Or MLB, or NFL, etc.)
For this past year I’ve been working one on one with clients, not only do I get looked at like I have two heads when I say “Our family doesn’t eat out very often. We cut out fast food entirely,” but a recurring theme surfaces over and over.
“I’m too busy.”
“Cooking is boring.”
“I don’t know how.”
We don’t know what we don’t know. I’m grateful when clients ask questions. I love it when people realize that the food industry really doesn’t have your health in mind when designing food-like products. It’s a learning curve that isn’t going to right itself overnight.
Here’s the thing, if we are too busy to prepare food to feed ourselves, perhaps we are just too damn busy.
If we are too busy to teach our children basic life skills such as feeding themselves, then perhaps we are too damn busy.
It’s time to slow down. It’s time to take stock of what is REALLY important. The day has enough hours. We get 24. Make time to cook. Learn what is REALLY in your food. Ignore the front of any package. Go straight to the back and look at (and read) the ingredients. Are they whole food ingredients that you would have in your kitchen? If not, put it back on the shelf!
The more real food we consume (and eliminate the crap), the less health issues we will face in the long term. The more real food we demand of the food industry, the more real food will be provided. Like it or not, they will go after the money.
Vote with your grocery dollar, because the food industry is listening. Vote with your time – what is really important?