Hold out your hand and close your eyes, I have for you a big surprise! So are the words of my mother-in-law as she evokes a Pavlovian response from my children. An already wired litter of children, eagerly crowding around the woman as she produces their treats. They bounce, jump, skip and praise the heavens, screaming “best day ever,” as if treats were so infrequent in their lives that they would have a hard time recalling the last time they were so blessed. Being the mature adults in the room we smile, convincing ourselves that it’s no big deal because snacks and treats are a fundamental part of the childhood experience.
Now it’s Friday and you are finally done at work for the day. What?! You’re home from work after a long week and there is nothing appealing or ready for you to eat. It’s been a long week and you deserve something special. How will you reward yourself for a long hard week at work? A few drinks with friends? Dine in or carry out food?
Enter the weekend – you bustle around town passing restaurant after restaurant and read the countless billboards advertising local restaurant specials. Your favorite radio station is advertising three course meals for two at an affordable 20 dollars. At home, in between the three-minute clips of whatever show you are trying to watch, you are forced to take in six minutes of commercials, most of which are images of tantalizing treats and irresistible delicacies.
Grab your torch and pitchforks, we are at war!
Do any of the above scenarios ring familiar to you? They do to me – and I have many more that I can use as examples that you can probably relate to as well. It’s just food. How on earth have we come to be at war with and against ourselves, all in the name of food?! Take a good look at society. What doesn’t involve food?
Food is the ultimate unifier. It brings us together. We use it to relax, to celebrate, to appreciate, to commemorate, to remember, and to forget. We use food as a reward, be it for ourselves or others, as an incentive to perform. We bribe our children with the promise of snacks. We offer snacks at meetings and get-togethers. Candy dishes and jars occupy the desks and lobbies in offices across the nation.
You cannot travel anywhere without having to pass dozens of restaurants and eateries of some sort. For a species that evolved from hunter-gatherers, we have definitely done a good job and ensuring we have an ample supply of food and an abundance of options. Unfortunately, what has become so readily available and desirable is often void of any significant nutritional value.
We are amidst an obesity epidemic and it seems that the best we can do is display the calorie and fat content of restaurant menus. These are ineffective weapons in this war. These weapons are shooting blanks and the enemy is creeping nearer. What good is calorie information if you know nothing about macronutrients and the role they play in your body? Why are you afraid of fat? Would you be afraid of fat if it were known by a different name? Say, for instance, that dietary fat was actually termed Zumi. Would you still make the correlation that dietary Zumi makes you FAT? Why are you straying from carbs? Do you know what carbs do? Do you know the difference between simple carbs, complex carbs, and fibrous carbs? Let’s not forget protein. So, it is your belief that too much protein will turn you into a monster? You don’t need protein because you aren’t a weight lifter, you say? Protein has many important functions – muscle producing, injury healing, and fat burning properties.
The war has been taken to a new level. We have let the enemy cross our lines and insert operatives to work amongst us. How did Krispy Kreme get a booth inside of this gym? Whose great idea was that? The message that this sends to the members of the gym is appalling. Is nothing sacred?
You literally cannot turn around without being bombarded by food. Vending machines are the drone robots of the enemy, conveniently located in every corner to sooth any craving. They make you feel hungry when you aren’t and will entice you to eat what you don’t even really desire. Dispensing food that produces physiological responses akin to illicit drug use, you are left with temporary satiety and the desire for more.
Viva la resistance!
This war will likely be around for a long time. Soldiers, sympathizers, and loyalists are being recruited by the millions. You can minimize (or maximize, for that matter), your involvement in this war by following just a few simple guidelines.
- Knowledge is power. As said in my very first column, That’s Great Bro, But is it Science, ‘. . . We are a world of convenience, accustomed to the ability to have what we want, when we want it, and at a moment’s notice. . . it seems only logical that we would want this same convenience to apply to . . . being fit and healthy. Pulling what we want to hear from a magazine, website, commercial, or gym goer is the mental equivalent of going to McDonald’s and ordering the Filet of Fish and a Diet Coke as the healthy alternative. ‘
- Be realistic. Unless you are eating straight lettuce, you can assume that a lot more has been done to your food to maintain freshness and taste. This means that a standard chicken breast can contain significantly more fat and sodium than you would read on the package from the super market. Keep in mind that food tastes better in a restaurant for a reason. Food is often soaked or rubbed in salt, cooked or dipped in butter, fried, or accompanied by more dressings and condiments than the meal itself.
- Set short-term goals. Take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your fitness journey will not see results that soon either. Short term goals are easier to achieve and put the whole process into a realistic and manageable realm. Accomplishing a short-term goal, say for instance, a nominal four pound loss in one month, will empower you far more greatly than setting a goal to lose 50 pounds as soon as possible. Failure and the crossing to the ‘dark side’ is the result of goals and programs built on unrealistic expectations.
- Alter your perception. You will continue to be bombarded by the temptation around you. Commercials will increase, more restaurants will open, and good food will continue to rise in price. You need to convince yourself that you do not need these foods, nor do you want these foods. Food is as strong, if not stronger, than illicit drugs. Whatever the motivator is that keeps you away from drugs, apply it to forming an aversion to junk food.
This will not be an easy fight, but it is a good fight. Join the resistance and proclaim your allegiance to good health. Live to be the grandparent of a dozen kids. Live to be an example to those around you. Live to reminisce of a time when cars couldn’t fly (it will happen).
The movement starts with you. Your actions will impact the lives of many.
This article was researched and written by Follow @JAstorina
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