In the political war on obesity which side wins? A Chicago Tribune special report offered the following answer, "the side with the biggest wallets." And in this case that would be? The food and beverage industries, again and again. In fact, according to the article, they have never lost a significant political battle in the US, despite the increasing data suggesting that unhealthy food and the marketing efforts that highlight its mouthwatering existence, is contributing significantly to the epidemic we call childhood obesity. Soda tax....not happening.....legislation to reduce salt, sugar, fat in kid's foods....didn't happen (though some companies have adopted voluntary efforts). Lobby expenditures have risen substantially in this sector along with voluntary pledges, but legislation has been "killed' repeatedly and effectively.
So what can you do and what changes can you make to minimize the obesity risk for your kids and work on your own issues, if you struggle with weight? Recognize if there is a weight issue. I've said all along that this is a family problem that requires a team effort. And there is no magic bullet, though there may be some recommendations and habit changes that will work for most people. We know that calories count and so does the quality of the food you eat. If you eat 1500 calories of "crappy food," meaning highly processed choices filled with fat, sugar and salt you will (a) impact your health negatively, despite the fact that you may be eating the correct amount of calories (b) miss out on vital nutrients and fiber, which is filling and also "health boosting' (c) corrupt your palate so that you continue to crave these foods. If you watch hours of TV daily and don't move (a) you will gain weight (b) you put your health at risk just by sitting for many hours. But we experts constantly focus on these two issues and despite those efforts, and the education of Americans regarding obesity and its health consequences, the obesity crisis rages on.
Instead of an all or nothing change approach, just begin to make changes. So here are some gentle suggestions that will help you eat healthier, tasty food:
(1) If you don't like veggies then trick yourself and family members into eating veggies. Google "kale chips" and you will see how easy they are to make (cheap too) and how tasty they are when you use fresh or dried herbs to jazz them up. Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes and cut down a bit on the butter and use 1% milk. Always present fresh veggies with a healthy dip like hummus or peanut butter (instead of a creamy dressing or dip). Google healthy vegetable soup recipes and add beans or a grain like quinoa for a protein boost. Top baked fish with a tomato sauce chock full of sautéed vegetables.
(2) Every time you shop, stop and smell and buy two or three new fresh or dried herbs. Use them instead of salt. Try rosemary, chili pepper, turmeric, smoked paprika, curry. They all have health benefits too.
(3) Replace potato chips with air popped popcorn. Miss the flavor of chips? Use a bit of olive oil spray and then sprinkle herbs or salt/butter substitute like Molly McButter and AlsoSalt on the popcorn.
(4) Replace baking cookies with making salads. Google different recipes with the kids and let them help you to shop for the greens and even taste test. Kids can help wash, tear, cut (based on age), mix salad ingredients and then help you make homemade healthier dressings.
(5) Get rid of the soda habit and experiment with the kids to create some healthier beverages. Make 100% fruit juice ice cubes and add to seltzer, make your own flavored waters by adding a squeeze of lemon, lime or fresh oranges to the water.
Now come up with your own habit swap outs that will nudge a family lifestyle change without the pressure of a strict formula. You can share them in the forum here!!
Published On: May 08, 2012