mercoledì 30 novembre 2011

A Culture of Bad Food: Can it Change?

Recently I spent some time traveling round the United Kingdom. It didn't take long for me to realize how incongruous the message of healthy eating has become.

If you are already eating a predominantly healthy diet, you have already made lifestyle choices. You are part of a niche group, while most people continue to eat as they've always eaten. It's easy to get caught up in your niche, believing that everyone thinks like you.

When traveling, you are out of the familiar, and when eating you are faced with multiple choices every time you are hungry.

And those choices can be jarring. Here's why:

Message 1
Large supermarkets stock a truly impressive array of foods. Over the last 40 years we have seen a massive growth in the amount of product available at all times of the year. The supermarkets in the UK (Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, Morrison's, etc) carried all kinds of fruit and vegetables as well as aisles of ready-packed meals. The choice was amazing.

The message: "You can enjoy a large and varied diet complete with all kinds of fruit and vegetables."

Message 2

Many of the cafés and small restaurants seemed to lack imagination. Many times the menu left me shaking my head. The only vegetables on offer were chips or fries. With meals being very heavy fat/carb combinations. I once ordered a steak meal (expecting some veggies, salad, and other condiments). What I got was a piece of steak on top of mashed potato, with half a plate of fries.

I don't want to offend anyone British but - the law of supply and demand must be at play here. People were queueing up to order 'stodge'. Forget the fruit and veg. If it's beige or brown -- then gulp it down. This was the norm.

The message: "Yeah we know there's fruit and veg around, but we all know you really want to eat bulky fried stuff."

Despite the appearance of salad, all sandwiches and wraps are served with fries. (via Kate Pugh).

Message 3
TV: I laughed and laughed to see diet ads where glamorous models would talk about saving 20 Calories here or there. Or enjoying a 'lite' version of this or that product. What's the point in saving 20 Calories when your daily diet is mostly fries?

The message: "You're overweight and need to start consuming diet products."

Change the Food Culture Before Going After Diets
Now I really begin to understand and respect Jamie Oliver's campaigning. There's no point in 'guilting' people into buying diet foods when their basic dietary desires are not doing them any good. From the beginning we need to keep educating on basic food choices. Maybe some cafés can begin to take small risks in offering more than just "xxxxx" + fries. Perhaps a bit of color can start appearing on the plate.

I'm not sure how shifts happen, but in my own home town we have lots of sushi restaurants - a wonderfully healthy quick eating choice. Supply has kept in tandem with demand.

How Can You help?
Over the last few months I've been quietly thinking about Diet Blog. Going forward my simple goal is: to help educate people on basic healthy eating. I know that many of the regular readers have a very advanced understanding of nutrition (thus the rigorous debates about various dietary dogma).

However I encourage you to be a part of a community, that over the next 6 months will transform this site into a goldmine of salient healthy eating advice and guidance. While it's great to understand the finer points of gluconeogenesis or ketosis, the average person in the street has been sold the lie that drinking a Diet Coke will make him healthier despite eating half a pound of fries per day.

View the original article here

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