(RxWiki News) Monday was National Food Day, and the initiative provides a good opportunity for Americans to really evaluate their diet, nutrition, and how they relate to overall health.
Fully two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Most Americans feast on salty, overly processed packaged foods, high-calorie sugary drinks and sodas, fast-food meals made of white bread and fatty factory-farmed meat.
Eating whole foods lead to a healthy life.
Such junky diets promote obesity and tooth decay, as well as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup make up one-sixth of the average American's calorie intake; in fact, the one item that causes the most weight gain is non-diet soft drinks.
“Food Day is an important way to focus on the critical need to have well-funded public health agencies that work on preventing diet-related and other diseases,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
According to the Food Day website, several hundred thousand Americans die prematurely every year due to their diet, and the medical costs of such poor eating habits total over $100 billion per year.
"Issues of dysnutrition have replaced issues of malnutrition in the new millennium," says Carol Wolin-Riklin, a registered dietitian at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School. She says that creating a plan of healthy eating habits will encourage and promote better eating behavior. Her tips for such a plan include:
- Drinking zero calorie liquids
- Avoiding fried and fatty foods
- Consuming less fast foods
- Avoiding grazing
- Limit snacks to 100-150 calories
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, can be highly effective in treating heart disease. "We want change to occur in our eating habits yet we are reluctant to change," Wolin-Riklin says.
"Change will occur when we can connect change to a personal value that is important to us." For example, resolving to change eating habits to increase stamina, decrease medication use or avoid high cholesterol.
The Food Day organizers issued a "Terrible Ten" list of the worst foods; some of the items on the list include cola, sugary cereals and white flour.
"Overcoming the ambivalence of a change in eating habits will help promote a healthier eating behavior," says Wolin-Riklin. "Focus on the positive benefits of change and your inner motivation for making a change. Lifelong change comes gradually over time. There are no quick solutions despite this age of rapid feedback and immediate gratification."