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We’re Not Eating as Healthy as We Think
I once did a one-week consulting assignment for two friends who are health activists advocating awareness and medical intervention for a rare form of dementia. The assignment required me to stay on site at their lovely home in the Rockies. They asked if I had any dietary requirements. Being that they are affluent and I knew they easily could afford the foods I eat, I gave my requirements: fresh food, organic preferred, nothing processed, no red meat, no grains, no processed sugars, Spring water.
When I arrived I was surprised to find the pantry and fridge stocked with (expensive) processed fish and turkey, brie in puff pastry, canned and packaged gourmet foods, sugar-free energy drinks, and trail mixes with M&Ms. Neither of my two friends like to cook so they buy everything packaged and prepared. I asked one of the friends if she thought that they ate healthy, to which she replied, “Yes, I think we eat healthy.”
9 in 10 Americans Think They Eat Healthy
My friends’ misconception of what it means to eat healthy is all too common an occurrence in America. According to a survey of 1,234 adults conducted for Consumer Reports, 9 in 10 Americans think they eat a healthy diet:
- 52.6% of participants described their diet as somewhat healthy
- 31.5% as very healthy
- and 5.6% as extremely healthy
This makes for a total of 89.7% of Americans who believe their diets are more or less appropriate, a number that does not coordinate very well with the percentage of Americans who meet the criteria for overweight or obese.
Overweight and Obese in America
Today there are more Americans that are overweight or obese than there are people of normal weight. According to a 2008 study in JAMA, 68% of Americans are overweight with at least half of those meeting the criteria for obesity. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher, while overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
A whopping 25% of Americans eat at a fast food restaurant daily.
America’s Favorite Vegetable
The average American eats 29-lbs of french fries per year, and 90% of those are sold in fast food restaurants. On average, Americans also consume just under 6 pounds of potato chips per year. Potatoes are the world’s 4th food staple, after wheat, corn, and rice.
According to the Consumer Reports survey, the least liked veggie list (percentage of people who rarely eat them) are: parsnips (87%), Swiss chard (86%), bok choy (82%), turnips and rutabagas (80%), artichokes (78%), eggplant (78%), and okra (77%).
The Bottom Line: What is a Healthy Diet?
For most people, a healthy diet emphasizes fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains; includes lean proteins such as chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt/sodium, and added sugars. As for me, as much as possible I eat locally raised or seasonal foods that are free of chemicals. These I usually get direct from the farmers who produce them. If I have to buy from the supermarket I go for organic foods first and minimally processed foods second. I do not eat grains, both because I have Celiac disease and because grains make me fat.
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life
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Published On: August 21, 2013