DESPERATE FOR A DIET REVOLUTION
Two things I can always count on in the spring: more clients at the gym and more people dieting. Normal angst over body shape and size gets steadily worse after we over-eat during the holidays and then sprint towards springtime, AKA body-exposure-time!
For our kids, peer-comparison plus parental expectations equals stress, not only over body image but academic and athletic performance. And as anxiety increases, self-control decreases, as well as overall health and well-being.
Americans spend $40 billion a year on dieting and diet-related products, more than the federal government spends on education. Talk about funding neighborhood schools! Instead, by our words and actions, we encourage children as young as eight to buy into the tragedy of measuring self worth by the numbers on the scale and their ability to be “perfect”.
The results have been an explosion of eating disorders in every segment of the population, but especially teenagers and young adults, accompanied by poor self-esteem, shame, fatigue, self-mutilation, mental disorders and disease. If you’re my age, you grew up in a time when kids and families ate well, got plenty of exercise, were healthier and more content, and obesity was a rarity. And no one was on a diet.
These days we have allowed food corporations to usurp our responsibility to provide practical guidelines for healthy eating to the next generation. Faced by an onslaught of processed foods over the last two decades, we’ve seen our waistlines expand and major diseases dramatically increase. Could there be a connection?
Processed foods are sweetened and salted and artificially flavored to appeal to our taste buds, which makes us want to eat them compulsively. And the manufacturers aren’t really concerned about your health; there’s a lot of money to be made by using artificial ingredients and super-sizing portions.
On the other hand, real food with real flavors and natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber are much more satisfying, so we need and eat less. Real will always be the healthiest choice.
Media bombards us with images of unattainable “perfection” (courtesy of digital manipulation), and we have not only failed to turn away from the foolishness of striving for the “image”, but have chosen to embrace the unreal for ourselves and our families. We are a nation of plastic food and plastic surgery, endlessly unsatisfied and insecure.
What about embracing our uniqueness? What about fulfillment and pleasure? Not just in eating, but in every part of who we really are. It’s not only time to approach the table with gratefulness, but the rest of our lives, to build a foundation for life that is real and lasting, not fake and temporary. And to teach the next generation to be not only wiser than us, but healthier too.
Start your own revolution!
Carol Buckley Frazier has spent the last 20 years studying wellness issues and applying this knowledge to helping others through her LifeCues workshops and one-on-one personal training. For more information, visit http://www.lifecues.com.