Americans Say Their Diet is Healthy.....Is It Really?

The HealthGal Health Guide March 01, 2011
  • Denial is a powerful term that can enable people to behave in dangerous ways or to believe fantasies, rather than face true reality.  You can be maxing out your credit card on luxuries while struggling to meet basic bills on a fixed income, and you convince yourself "it will all work out."  You can be a closet eater and feigning shock outwardly that you are putting on weight.  You can be in an abusive relationship and convince yourself that this is what love is about.  Well apparently most Americans think that they eat a "healthy diet" when in fact, they are actually consuming way too much fat, sugar and sodium and calories.

     

    Consumer Reports did a telephone survey with about 1,230 participants to assess diet realities versus dietary presumptions.  Just over half the respondents said they believed their diets were somewhat healthy, about a third thought their diets were very healthy and just over 5% thought their diets were "extremely" healthy.  So the assumption would be that certain dietary choices would be absent in order to come to these various grades of "healthy."  Well 43% of respondents said they had at least one sugary soda or sugar-sweetened coffee or tea beverage daily and about 25% said they limit (but do have) sweets and fats daily.

    Most dieticians would suggest that liquid calories do not belong in a healthy diet, though some might agree that if one sugary drink is your daily treat in the framework of a healthy, balanced diet, then as long as you're aware of the choice it's fine.  The problem is that many of us justify choices that are not healthy or we don't really pay attention to the frequency of consumption of less healthy choices.  So if you're having one soda, and one sweetened coffee and a white bread sandwich of fish or lean meat, and a hefty serving of a pasta dish (white pasta) and a dessert every day, plus some fruits and vegetables, you may convince yourself that you are eating a "basically healthy diet."  You're not.....though compared to your friend who mostly subsists on fast food and sweetened beverages you are certainly making some better choices.

     

    Most health experts agree that the singular way to assess your diet is to keep a journal of your daily menu choices, be honest and write everything down and then review it.  See how many servings of unprocessed fruits and vegetables you eat daily, how many servings of whole grains, how many servings of very low fat or fat free dairy products, how many servings of lean or plant-based protein you eat daily, and whether or not you have a lot of salt and unhealthy fats in your diet.  Sometimes taking your one or two weeks of food journals to a dietician or nutritionist can help you to face reality and then you can decide to swap out some foods for healthier, still tasty choices with the guidance of a professional.  A food journal is the ultimate truth tool in the battle to fight the bulge.

     

    Have you ever kept a food journal and did it help you?