Saturday, October 9, 2010

Food, Health, and the Like

It's getting chilly here in New York City, so I've discovered a new love - instant oatmeal. The morning bowl of oats, sugar, and fruit microwaved on high for two minutes is utterly delightful. Eat slowly - actually chewing and swallowing - with awareness, and it's even better.

I just skimmed through a book called "The End of Overeating," by Dr. David Kessler. It's a scientific and insider's look at the food industry and the gigantic problem we have in America today with obesity and overeating. Food problems, to sum it up. It's because food has turned into a huge industry, a money and profit-making empire. We all know that sex sells. Well, sugar, fat, and salt are the equivalent, in the food world. And to make it worse, overeating is not just a matter of lack of willpower. Not only is advertising carefully planned and structured, the food industry actively researches and studies ways to make food more appealing, easier to swallow, more entertaining, and more addictive. It's no longer a matter of just eating and the ability to say no or not, but the whole issue is a matter of neurological wiring that's been deeply and thoughtfully manipulated by the industry.

During my small group biochemistry discussion on Thursday, one of my preceptors, who's a pediatrician, spoke about how soon our world will resemble that depicted in the Pixar movie, WALL-E. I remember being disturbed by the images of huge, puffy people floating around in electric chairs in WALL-E. How they'd eat and drink continuously as they zoomed around the space station the living members of the world were inhabiting. My preceptor said if we want to see the obesity epidemic, just visit her floor of the hospital.

Then she asked us at what age we think plaque (from cholesterol deposits) begins to form in humans. And the answer is - they begin forming in school-age children! At this rate, when you're in your twenties, your arteries probably have a fair share of plaque deposited in them. Oy.

I've been vegetarian for about half a year now. I don't see myself going back to a meat diet. There's no motivation to, at least so far. I've known of vegetarians who've had to incorporate back some fish and eggs in their diet for various reasons, but at least in the foreseeable future I don't think I'll have to do that quite yet. In fact I've been contemplating going vegan. I did love eggs and cheese, but in view of the health and environmental reason for not eating these items, it may be worth it to make the change.

The more we can get back to eating "real" food, not the processed or dolled-up stuff we typically see in the center of grocery stores or restaurants, the better.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I definitely read that book. It disturbed me so much that I find myself not buying packaged food. I can't remember the last time I did either.

    Ahh, vegan would be an interesting choice. However, if you want to steer away from processed or dolled-up food, vegan may not be it either, depending on what you consume.

    Like vegetarians, there are quite a number of meat substitutes they use, which are heavily processed as well.

    It's just weighing out the choices we have in front of us and deciding what is in our best interest, right? Hehe, let me know if you decide to go vegan :)