SPECIAL TO THE MIRROR
Within a decade, a full 75 percent of the United State population is predicted to be overweight, making it “the fattest country” according to the recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
It’s a scary thought, but not at all surprising given the average American diet, sedentary lifestyle, and in an increasingly high-stress society. There is also the overabundance of low quality foods, thanks to the age of industrialization, and an increasing lower-income socioeconomic population that can’t afford high quality foods.
One of the biggest culprits to this country’s alarming statistics is the dietary habit that has been formed since our infancy. To understand why we are where we are today, it helps to look at how our conditioning with food began. Starting back when we were infants, we fed every three to four hours on the clock because we didn’t know anything but to let our metabolism dictate our schedule. Our nutritional needs were met with either breast milk or baby formula, which had the ideal ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. We cried when were hungry, and stopped when we were satisfied.
For our parents this combination of incessant crying to communicate hunger, along with an overwhelming feeding schedule was only tolerable for about a year, until we could start to understand language. Then our parents could begin to slowly reprogram our eating schedule to meet their lifestyle. They didn’t know any better either because that’s what they were programmed to do, in turn by their parents, and so on.
From toddlers to children, we go from feeding several times a day, and listening to our bodies, to eating three meals per day. This eventually becomes our standard conditioned eating schedule. To some degree what we inherently learn from this is that the act of eating is more of an event in our day, than an essential self-sustaining act of nourishment. From adolescence into adulthood, eating has now become associated with a time of the day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Later, people fall victim to their hectic lifestyle. The responsibilities begin to pile on, and life shows up with obligations to work, family, and community. Eating all three meals may show up as just one more obligation we can do without. This our most important obligation to take care of ourselves is valued less, and become less efficient and effective in taking care of those “more important” responsibilities and obligations.
For many adults, some meals are skipped, while other are doubled up. This repeated habit over time creates havoc on the blood sugar of the body and ultimately leads to slowed metabolism, muscle loss, increased fat storage, and weight gain.
The human body is amazing in the sense that it finds a way to survive even though we may deprive it of what it needs, and other times abuse it with binging. Our mind is built in the same fashion. It finds a way to compartmentalize the deprivation or excess on the short-term so that we can get through the day. Of course, there are very undesirable prices to pay for these extremes.
Just like with a delinquent credit card, the longer we ignore the bills piling up, the higher the interest goes up, as does our debt, and our credit score goes down; in a deficient body, the longer its nutritional needs are not met or exceeded, the greater the internal damage, and unwanted effects (like slowed metabolism, increased fat storage and weight gain, and faster chronological aging) transpire.
Hence, the demise of our health and well-being moves at a faster rate than most of us would ever consider. This is happening unknowingly to a higher percentage of the population with every passing year in the United States. The recent OECD study reveals that three out of four Americans will be overweight or obese by 2020, and disease rates and health care spending will balloon.
Government is attempting to overhaul the health care system, but it is not their responsibility to babysit us and clean up after the mess we’ve made of our health as a nation. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, and be proactive with our health habits. This enables us to be examples to our family and community, to slow the momentum, and break this pandemic once and for all.
To turn things around, it will take changing our habits to get back to feeding in same meal intervals, with the same type of basic nourishment we had when we were infants. That instinct still exists in us. We get to retrain our minds and bodies to have a healthy appetite to eat every three to four hours upon waking.
I encourage you to make healthy choices such as eating a fiber-rich, whole foods diet; rich in beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Include high quality protein, carbohydrate, and fat in each meal. Also, prepare home cooked meals so that you know exactly what’s in it. The result can greatly contribute to having a healthier body and mind, with higher metabolism, less body fat, more energy, and likely a higher quality of life.
As our lives become more virtual and fleeting, it’s imperative that we have proper nutrition as an anchor. Otherwise, our health as a nation will capsize.
Adam Friedman, CSCS, CN, CMT is a Kinesiologist, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritionist, and Certified Massage Technician. He is the founder of Advanced Athletics, Inc. located right next door to the world famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, on the corner of Sunset Ave, and Hampton Drive, one block east of Main Street. To schedule a complimentary assessment please call 310.396.2100 or email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, to learn more, visit www.advancedathletics.com.