That diet and exercise are important pillars of good health is common knowledge, even among those who don’t necessarily follow suit. But when it comes to caring for their mental and emotional well-being, most people remain largely in the dark. According to the current U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, it is time to pay greater attention to the treatment of mental and emotional conditions, which he considers as crucial as all other forms of healthcare.
Do food manufacturers bear a responsibility for the global obesity crisis? Of course they do. So do restaurants that offer nutritionally poor fare and exorbitant portion sizes. But the decision to consume foods and drinks that cause waistlines to expand ever further still rests with the individual. So, from which end should we try to tackle the problem? Experts remain divided over the issue, despite of decades-long research on the true causes of excessive weight gain.
Negative thinking has long been recognized as a culprit for many illnesses – as has the healing power of a positive mindset. Destructive thoughts and emotions can cause health problems, especially when they manifest themselves over time as permanent dispositions or habitual outlooks on the world.
Consumers generally want to eat better and are willing to spend more money on healthy foods like fresh and organically grown produce, but they also remain prone to reach for fast food and snacks, surveys find. While the public is given easier access to nutritional information and advice than ever, there continues to be a gap, if not disconnect, between what people voice as their health concerns and how they actually act upon them.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally been released. There are good and bad news. The new guidelines, for the first time, attempt to focus on foods and dietary patterns. Previous editions focused primarily on food groups and nutrients. However, people do not eat food groups and nutrients in isolation but rather in combination, and the totality of one’s diet forms an overall eating pattern. Still much of the recommendations fall short of expectations, and I would say that all in all the guidelines are another win for the meat-, soda- and junk food industries.
I just returned from a two-day conference that was organized by Oldways, a non-profit organization with focus on culinary and cultural diversity around the globe. Decades ago, its founder, Dun Gifford, became concerned with the progressive disappearance of many culinary traditions in favor of what he called “techno foods.” Why does your culture matter when it comes to your food choices, he asked. Because – no matter where you come from – it is not in your heritage to become overweight, diabetic, or develop heart disease and cancer, all the leading causes of death in the modern world. What we all should have in common as our birthright is a healthy heart, a strong body, extraordinary energy, and a long and healthy life – all of which we would be enabled to by access to nutritious and delicious foods.