Food Revolution & The Obesity Crisis in America

I feel like it’s been eons since I wrote a blog post, but last night we caught Jamie Oliver on Campbell Brown on CNN, plugging his new show, Food Revolution and I was fully inspired to write.

Though we didn’t see the actual 2-hour premier (got home too late for that) we saw the segment with the mom from W. Va. who has her fridge/freezer unloaded by Jamie.

Staring at the disgusting-looking pile of junk food and frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets and lord knows what else … he basically tells the mom (who is overweight, if not obese) that eating this way is basically killing her and her children, cutting their lives short by 14 years or so.

When you see the tears start to well up in her face, it’s hard not to be moved to tears yourself. My husband and I just sat there, stunned, looking at the TV.

The thing is, we all KNOW junk food is bad for us … we also know we’re marketed to death when it comes to these unhealthy choices.

But we also know it’s everywhere and it’s cheap and people gravitate towards it on the go. In fact, more often than not, junk food is either an impulse purchase or something to dull a craving … it’s not necessarily something on someone’s grocery list (OK, it’s never on mine yet usually something winds up in the cart!)

I used to think it was OK to eat some treats in moderation … but I’m not so sure anymore …

You see, now that I’ve run the disordered eater gamut from not eating ANY junk food and being ridiculously rigid … to buying junk I’d chew and spit (it’s been a year now, hurrah!!!)  … to buying junk and actually eating it, I’m not so sure any of it is OK for someone like me, with a serious emotional attachment to food, someone who (admittedly) copes with her feelings (good or bad) with food.

Let’s be real here … I’ve said it before — Chex mix is the devil for someone like me, and it certainly doesn’t help me achieve my goal of eating cleaner and more nutritiously … and certainly won’t help me lose weight.

And while I don’t know this woman’s history (as I said, I didn’t watch the show) I’m pretty sure that even if she knows that kind of unhealthy fare isn’t doing her or her family any favors, it’s a very hard addiction to break … especially if it’s tied to emotions.

So what do we do about it?

Calorie counts will be required by law in the near future (something I fully support) — and that might help change some attitudes and behaviors … but ultimately it’s about personal responsibility and decision-making.

Cooking healthy meals at home, making wise choices when dining out and providing children healthy school lunches are a few ways to encourage healthier habits … but I’d still argue much falls under the realm of personal responsibility, and not everyone is ready to make that change … even with newfound awareness.

I’ll use myself as an example. Today when I bought some Cadbury eggs that were on sale … I knew I wasn’t helping my body or my mind … I was just giving into a craving. Which perpetuates another craving and so on and so forth.

In other words, I was aware of what I was doing and it didn’t stop me. If I were had been a little stronger and thought “with the end in mind” (as Stephen Covey purports in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I love!) I’d likely have seen myself fitting comfortably into all my clothes and the candy egg would have less power over me; I’d either eat it and enjoy it and have that be the treat of the day … or walk past it.

Like it or not, for as much progress as I’ve made, I still have a long way to go in some respects. I’m still very much a compulsive buyer and an emotional eater. I don’t always remember to think it through; sometimes I’m stronger than other times … and it shows.

Jamie Oliver’s mission is a good one (you can sign his petition here) … We do have a responsibility to take care of one another, and we owe it to ourselves and each other to make healthy, quality food economically-accessible to all. Obesity doesn’t have to be a killer; it just doesn’t. Wealth shouldn’t dictate health …

But I also don’t think we can ignore the emotional component of our addiction to food, either. I wish Jamie the best of luck in his efforts; he certainly has my support!

How about you? What do you think needs to happen to reverse the obesity epidemic in the U.S.? Is it new legislation? Is it a need for greater accountability/personal responsibility?

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2 thoughts on “Food Revolution & The Obesity Crisis in America

  1. I just started watching this show online this weekend and I am shocked at what I have seen. This show makes me really emotional. It’s heartbreaking, and it reminds me of how I do not want my kids to grow up. It helps me to create plans regarding my own family. I want my kids to grow up assuming eating healthy and mostly fresh non-processed food is normal and not that having junk food is a coveted treat (that’s one I struggle with myself). I think education is key. So many people just DON”T KNOW how easy it is to eat healthy. Fast food and quick processed food is too readily available. Once you get in the habit of cooking or literally just throwing together a few fresh things, you realize how it’s just as quick as pulling chicken fingers out of the freezer. People just aren’t as exposed to traditional meals as they used to be. I believe the government has a responsibility to educate and to control as well. You wouldn’t be allowed to advertise cigarettes in an Archie comic, so WHY are cereal companies allowed to place “cereal” made completely of sugar in eyesight of children??? it’s infuriating really. If you watch the show there’s an episode where Jamie asks the kids to name produce and they literally can’t name a potato, brocolli or tomatoes, etc. It’s heartbreaking.

  2. Oh man. You’re speaking to me.

    “I’m not so sure any of it is OK for someone like me, with a serious emotional attachment to food, someone who (admittedly) copes with her feelings (good or bad) with food.”

    I just came to this realization recently.

    Food is difficult to deal with if you know the dangers. And it’s even harder if not.

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