Posts Tagged With: healthy-living

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A little while back I was in the supermarket picking up some stuff. Ahead of me, on line, was young woman who was noticeably obese. There was no way of hiding the fact that she had a very serious weight problem. She was buying some makeup items that were laid out on the counter in front of her. As all of you know, when you get up near the cashier, the stores have racks of sundry items, including various forms of candy, and “newspapers” blaring forth the news of some movie star’s latest affair, or how aliens from outer-space are destroying the planet. ( I think these “aliens” have now come out into the open, and call themselves- Republicans.) Store owners hope that as people wait on line, some will impulsively add a few of these sundries to their shopping carts. In any event, the obese woman ahead me, as she waited for the guy in front of her to pay his bill,   picked up a candy bar from from the rack behind her and put it on the counter. I think it was a Milky Way or something similar. She stared at it for awhile as if contemplating the wisdom of that decision, and then put the candy bar back on the rack. Then, she retrieved the candy bar a second time and laid it on the counter; and then, a second time thought better of it, and returned it to the rack. Finally, as it became her turn to pay, she grabbed the candy bar a third time, and kept it for good, as she included it among her other items; even though it was obvious that purchasing that candy bar was the last thing she should have done.

Of course, I don’t know what stresses, turmoil, or unhappinesses the young woman was experiencing that led her to conclude that the few moments of relief gained from devouring that sticky sweetness, was worth the resulting cost of adding to her obesity. However, she certainly isn’t alone. Everyone knows that a major problem in this country is the continual upward trend in rates of obesity. Multi-billion dollar industries devoted toward losing weight, or weight-loss supplements have continued to thrive. Yet, we as a people, continue to get fatter. Gyms with high membership fees, continue to proliferate so people can work off the extra calories that are consumed daily. And still we get fatter. In addition, obesity is considered by society to be a much more serious problem for women rather than men. I mean, men are dogs or slobs anyway; so it’s considered no big deal if they have a beer belly gut to go along with their general unsavoriness in the first place. Right? Women, on the other hand, are always more severely judged for any sign of overweight. And the advice often given to women, that even if they are overweight, they should learn to accept themselves and their bodies as they are, and not be self-judgemental. What a crock. I don’t believe that anyone that has ever been seriously obese, would ever be content living out their lives in that manner.

A big part of the obesity problem is that alongside all the gyms and the weight-loss centers, is, of course, the fast food industry. Nothing will put on the pounds faster than the fatty, sugary fare offered at such reasonable prices by all the fast-food restaurants located in virtually every neighborhood. And while it’s usually young people with higher rates of metabolism that frequent fast-food joints, their incidence of obesity is also rising. They are by no means, immune. Couple that with a growing culture of never having to experience self-denial, and the obesity trend marches on. Couple that with all the yummy fast food commercials we see on TV and elsewhere, and the fact that eating junk food is so much cheaper than eating healthy, and you have the perfect storm in creating a nation of over-eaters and obesity. Like everyone else, I used to eat my share of junk food and had weight problems all my life. Now, in my senior years I eat stuff like berries and red grapes, greek yogurt, fish and other seafood and various other types of fruits and vegetables. Not nearly as much fun as pepperoni pizza, or cheeseburgers and fries. And a lot more expensive. But, I figure, that if I want to continue observing the green side of the grass, I need to do this. And, also, go to the gym every day, which is obviously no fun at all.

I have always admired the small number of people in our society who ate only because they were hungry, and once fed, didn’t give food another thought. They were blessed in that they never had to deal with a weight problem. For most of the rest of us, however, food is a major issue. A major form of entertainment for many people is dining out. And we all know how hard it is to stick to a diet when eating in restaurants. Yes, some people can eat only a salad when in a restaurant, but for most, that’s not the case. The more we eat in restaurants the more overweight we tend to become. And for all too many people, food becomes a source of numbing the pain, stress, dysfunction, and general unhappiness that exists in their lives. Some people turn to alcohol or drugs in dealing with these conflicts. But many more people cope by overeating the wrong kinds of foods. Like drugs and alcohol, however, a continual pattern of bad eating habits will often lead to various diseases and shortened life-spans.

Our relationship with food often goes to the very heart of the human condition. Vast chunks of Africa, Asia, and Latin America suffer from hunger and malnutrition. In the Sudan, for example, large numbers of people die from starvation. Yet in this country, food is so abundant at such reasonable prices, that we experience the opposite malady of obesity. And we can’t figure out a way to even out the world’s food market so that both conditions could be alleviated. Life sure isn’t fair, is it?

 

 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I like eating at least as much, if not more, than the next guy. Food has been my one constant companion since the day I was born, and I would sort hate the idea of giving up the habit of eating. I also have the type of appetite that is never satisfied. I can no sooner end one meal when I’m anxious to start the next. Of course, health and practicality considerations preclude me from this type of overeating, although I do overindulge from time to time.

I am not proud to admit that we buy a lot of our food at a local Wal-Mart. We go there to meet the high-class clientele the store attracts and for the wonderful ambience. Just kidding, of course, as both those factors are sadly lacking at any Wal-Mart store. The simple fact is that we shop there to save money. I have this thing about paying significantly higher prices for identical items at other food stores. I could afford to shop at other super-markets, but I can’t mentally get over the hurdle of paying a lot more for the identical box of cereal. We also shop at Trader Joe’s where prices are also relatively cheap, especially when compared to say, the upscale Whole Foods markets.

Which brings us to the topic of the foods we eat. When one is young he or she can eat virtually anything with little consequence . A young person can eat tupperware without feeling ill effects. Of course there are always those, even in youth, that have a weight problem, and trying to keep their weight under control is a constant and ongoing battle to almost the day they die. So it was with me. With my prodigious appetite, I constantly fought a mostly losing battle of the bulge. My weight would go up and down continually, the good old yo-yo effect. Then about 3 years ago I made a few changes, and started working out more intensely in the gym, and my weight came down almost 25 pounds, and thus far has stayed off. I won’t go into the myriad of psychological and other reasons for obesity, but for some people it’s a war they can never win.

Which brings us to the health considerations of our food choices. When one ages, his or her food choices start becoming more and more limited. That is, if they desire to stay healthy and maintain a decent quality of life. For example, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, and other medical groups have put out numerous studies that show that cancers grow much more rapidly when fed by sugar intakes. Cancer loves sugar, and cancer cells metabolize sugar intake at 8 times the rate that normal cells do. Everyone, at any one time, has cancer cells in their body according to what these studies show. Usually, the body’s immune system fights off these cancer cells, but the immune system starts to weaken the older one gets. That’s why the leading cause of cancer is not smoking or obesity, it’s getting old. If you live long enough, you have a 50% chance of developing cancer. But as I’ve said, nothing abets the proliferation of cancer cells in the body like sugar, which also is a leading factor in other diseases such as diabetes and gout. Yet Americans love sugar, and the yearly intake of sugar for most people is often enormous. About a year ago, the Wal-Mart I mentioned that we shopped at, redecorated the store. As part of that effort, they expanded the size of the area that contains bakery products while reducing the area that contains fruits and vegetables. Of course, everyone knows we’re not getting enough white flour, sugar and trans-fats into our diets. It’s all those fruits and vegetables that keep screwing everything up.

Which brings us to the topic of the rising costs of health care. When the Democrats finally passed the frankenstein known as Obamacare, one of the predictions made was that new law would help reduce soaring medical costs. What nonsense. Of course medical costs will continue to increase rapidly as the population grows, as people live longer, and as new, highly expensive drugs and therapies are developed. But there is one way to dramatically lower the cost of health care, and that would be to force people to live healthier life-styles. Yes, I said force, similar to the way the Government forces you to pay income taxes. This would include a total ban on smoking, and requirements that people, for the most part, give up refined sugars, refined grains, and saturated and trans-fats. A requirement to eat more seafood and only lean, low-fat meats, and fruits and vegetables. And a requirement for everyone to have a daily and fairly rigorous exercise regimen. But you can already hear the screams and howls of protest if such requirements were foisted off on the populace.

I mean what would the crowd do that likes to chow down on bacon-cheeseburgers with fries, or pepperoni pizza, topped off with a hot-fudge sundae or two. To say nothing of the estimated 24 million Americans that still smoke. (You seem to see most of these smokers in Las Vegas casinos, where they’re puffing away as they keep shoveling more money into the slot machines.) As it is not likely that anyone, or any governing body, will be able to dissuade people away from their dysfunctional life-styles, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. In the meantime, we all pay the price in higher medical bills and higher insurance rates.

 

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