I think we probably all are aware of just how much of a role diet and nutrition play in our daily lives. You don't have to be an expert to know that if you eat too much of the wrong foods, you will probably experience some or all of the following characteristics:
1. Balloon to extreme proportions;
2. Elevate your risk of suffering from illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and a long list of other depressing ailments; and
3. Generally feel crappy all the time (though you might be so used to feeling that way such that you don't even know what feeling good feels like anymore, which is quite a sobering thought, really).
The evidence speaks for itself. The obesity rate in this country is simply startling. The incidence of diseases resulting from engaging in unhealthy vices has skyrocketed. Fast food corporations are making a killing from marketing their Monster Thickburgers, McSkillet Burritos, and other greasy, calorie-laden offerings.
Wanton overconsumption is glamorized in the ads that leave impressionable youths with the misguided idea that it's macho to be able to down a couple pounds' worth of hamburger meat with bun and trimmings (perhaps in the form of a Carl Jr's Double Six Dollar Burger - boasting 1520 calories and 111 g of fat), as well as a Coke and supersized fries liberally sprinkled with salt and doused with Cheez-Whiz, all in one sitting. Well, if your idea of machismo is legitimized by the fact that you're willing to put yourself at greater risk (for blocked arteries, high cholestrol and central adiposity), that's probably alright. Otherwise, it's not.
I know it isn't fair to lump everyone into the "I-don't-give-a-flying-s*&$#-what-I-stuff-into-my-pie-hole-as-long-as-it-tastes-good" category, as I truly believe that most people are genuinely aware of what foods are beneficial and which are best to be avoided. In today's society, however, an overwhelming number of people are preoccupied first and foremost with immediate gratification. If it tastes good, I'll eat it, and worry about the consequences later. If it's readily available (in the form of a McDonald's drive-thru), even better!
And very naturally, they then fall into a vicious cycle of justifying their choices. Well, it's just a burger, right? Hamburger meat... hmmm, that's basically ground beef and that's protein, isn't it? I suppose I'll get an energy boost from the carbs in the sesame bun? I know that limp, wilted sliver of lettuce doesn't look like much, but with the lone tomato slice I figure that might be a serving of vegetables. Cheese for strong bones, and mayo for a good old-fashioned dose of healthy lipids! And with a puff of smoke, the deconstructed Double Whopper magically morphs into a meal Jack LaLanne would wholeheartedly endorse!
Sadly, most people don't realize how the consequences of their choices accumulate until they visit the doctor for their periodic checkup and are solemnly informed that their blood work has revealed some frightening figures. Or maybe it hits them when they wake up one morning, look down to tie their shoelaces and realize they can't even see the tips of their shoes beyond their bellies (and it's not because they misplaced their glasses).
I'm not even going into the specifics of nutrition where the debate takes the importance of healthy eating as a given, and instead focuses on the types of foods that will help to achieve optimal health (I'll probably do that in a subsequent post). I'm just trying to highlight here how crucial it is to understand the risks associated with the widespread persistence in making patently bad food choices.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the future fades into oblivion when it comes to choosing between options, and in this nation where instant gratification is routinely preferred over calculated decision-making (much like how certain political choices appear to have been made), the eventual outcomes don't bode well at all.
Images courtesy of Brand Autopsy and Foodfacts.