Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday rant - Stop your whining and do something

Let me preface this post by saying that this is a rant about a specific group of people. It's about people who are overweight because they eat too much unhealthy food (and they know it). I'm not talking about people who are overweight for medical reasons, or because they have conditions which prohibit them from exercising. I'm not talking about people who are overweight and do exercise and eat healthy all the time (I'm considered overweight myself in all those BMI charts, though the whole BMI chart concept will be a rant for another day). I'm talking about people who eat sugar with a side of fat and grease and then say that they eat that way just because they're hungry all the time.

"I live for food." I heard this from one of my co-workers the other day. Our conversation kicked off because I mentioned I was famished because I forgot to put the protein powder in my morning fruit shake, and he was curious about why protein powder would make that much difference. He mentioned that he's always hungry so he ends up overeating all the time. Now, this is the co-worker who eats carrot cake cookies for breakfast, washed down with a big bottle of Mountain Dew. And I suggested eating some healthy snacks every few hours so that he wouldn't be so hungry at meals and therefore overeat. The thing is, I live for food too. People at work have joked with me that I'm in the kitchen more than I'm at my desk (for my morning/afternoon snacks, lunch, then all the water refills in between).

And I think the big problem here stems from a lack of nutrition education. Our discussion continued because he was asking me questions about my eating habits. So I mentioned that protein and whole grains tend to stave off hunger for me, and he hadn't known that. He did know that his diet wasn't healthy (that'd be a big dollop of denial to overlook the breakfast cookies), but he didn't understand the link between eating sugar/refined carbs and having energy spikes, then the sugar drop and ensuing hunger.

For me personally, (I love sugar) sugary foods give me wings to bounce on the ceilings (I love sugar), then give me baby wings to pull down my eyelids and rumble my belly (I still love sugar). If I don't eat snacks during the day, I'm famished by the time a meal rolls around and I end up eating WAAAAAY too much. I still eat good sized meals, but I make sure to have snacks in between so I don't overdo it (too much). My snacks are normally multi-grain toast with nutella or peanut butter, or I'll have some walnuts and dried fruit. Occasionally I have cookies (and I usually end up feeling hungry when I do)

Now, if you don't know the nutritional effect of the food you're eating, and that it's going to leave you hungry in an hour, then I suppose complaining is in order when you're hungry all the time. Especially if you're eating a lot, you'd figure you'd be less hungry, right? So I suppose this all comes down to lack of education about nutrition. Because people can know they're not eating healthy food, but if they're always hungry and they don't know how to make tasty healthy options, then they're not going to know how to change for the better.

And the way I eat may not be the right way for you. You might feel better eating vegetarian/ vegan, or Atkins, or following the Primal Blueprint. But the common denominator is that the right way for you to eat is a way where you don't feel excessively hungry, don't consume more calories than you expend (thank god for exercise), and that you don't overburden your system with too many saturated fats (which can be bad for the heart, among other things).

How do we get more educational about nutrition out there? Because I've heard so many people whining about their weight but then doing nothing about it (or going on a super-restrictive diet for a week or two), but many of them don't really know how to change their habits for life. Do we need more education in school? I feel like there's already sooo much emphasis on weight in our society now that this could backfire if not done properly, and make some kids obsess over their weight even more than they do now. Do we leave it up to the parents (and hope that they know about nutrition)?

I guess I've just been taking it little by little. I'm constantly in the process of figuring out the best way of doing things for me. If someone asks me about it, I'll offer up my thoughts on the matter, but I'm not going to comment if someone is eating cookies for breakfast (it's not my place to judge - yes, this may seem inconsistent given this blog post, but I'm just using that example as a springboard for the bigger discussion).

I just feel like we've gotten so far away from our food roots, that all of our food is so processed and full of chemicals, that many people now just don't know what's what in the world of nutrition. How do we start to change this?


Charlotte said...

You are so right about the need for nutritional education. I really think people just don't know how to eat. I didn't figure out the basics (!!) until I was in my 20's. I'm STILL trying to figure out "the best" way to eat - if it exists.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I have to wonder though: is it really an issue of education, or is it more about willful ignorance?

I mean, how can you get to be an adult in this society without hearing at least a few times that you should be eating lean protein, whole grains, and lots of produce, and that you should lay off the processed crap and sugar and bad fat?

This information has been repeated over and over in newspaper articles, magazines, tv shows etc. I'm middle aged, and even back in the ancient 60's we knew you weren't supposed to eat nothing but burgers and desserts. Plus, if you ARE overweight and unhealthy, wouldn't you have some incentive to read just a LITTLE info about proper nutrition?

I suspect there are a lot of people who plug their ears and go "la la la la I can't hear you" whenever good nutritional advice is offered.

No one WANTS to hear that candybars are bad and broccoli is good. But I'm not sure it's due to lack of education. Sure, there are specifics people are unclear on, but the general "don't eat sugar all day" message is pretty inescapable.

Wow, sorry, didn't know I had that rant in me!

Leah J. Utas said...

We're bombarded by fast food advertising and it sets up a certain belief: I deserve this as much as anyone else.
Why can't I have this?
It's way easier to not learn, to not take responsibility for yourself and your health, and to blame it on external factors like being hungry all the time than it is to learn why you are and do something about it.
Great post.

Gopi Rajaseharan said...

Nice, Raina. This post is right alongside this one:

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Charlotte, I totally agree, it's taken me a while to figure out how to eat, even though I grew up knowing what was good and bad for me (I didn't get the whole balance of protein/whole grains until recently).

Love the rant, Crabby! I think you're right that there is a fair amount of willful ignorance. And the "I'm always hungry" excuse is probably just that, an excuse. We are so bombarded, I think some of it is that we're bombarded with conflicting information (some foods are good, no they're bad, no they're good, etc). But everyone knows that cookies are pretty much bad (especially if eaten as a meal).

Leah, there is definitely a sense of entitlement that people have - "I worked out so now I don't feel bad about having this" "I had a hard day, let's eat some cookies" "man I'm exhausted, how about a pint of ice cream?". And our society is a very immediate gratification society, so lots of people (myself included sometimes) get the food the want right now instead of balancing it out.

Gopi, I'll check out that post later (I'm at a business meeting). Could you call me Leth on this site, since that's my online pseudonym? Thanks!

jeffg said...

Some of us just don't care :)

I'll put my nutritional knowledge up against most lay people out there, that doesn't stop me from being either overweight or eating tremendous amounts of unhealthy food :)

At the end of the day I'm simply a glutton, and not just with food.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Jeff, I hear you! Honestly, if someone's happy with how they eat and all, that's great! There are too many people (especially women) who get weird about their weight. But I'm more ranting about people who are overweight and complain about it (so they do care), but aren't doing anything about it.

And for the record, you look like you're a healthy weight :)