I have never been the best dietician in the world. In fact, I’m sort of the opposite. (Admittedly, I’ve always been a sucker for french fries, pizza, and greasy Chinese lunch specials.) But even though I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with those foods…they sure as heck don’t love me back. As I age, I am finally starting to feel the effects of a poor diet wearing on me. And, it’s not just my ever-growing waistline that’s being effected. It’s also my physical and mental health. I’m finding myself exhausted, weak, and just flat-out crappy. Not to mention the worries I’ve been having about cholesterol levels and my concerns about my future heart health.
The time has come to do something. Change is on the menu.
I decided the first step to solving my health dilemma was to do a little research on the foods I’ve been eating and the way I’ve been portioning my meals. It wasn’t until I really started to think more about my particular eating-style, I realized that I’m far from alone in this struggle. It’s essentially our entire nation and the culture that we’ve created that’s doing it wrong.
The Western Pattern Diet
More than 68% of Americans are categorized as overweight or obese.
The basic problem our nation (as well as similar countries) and our eating habits is simple. It doesn’t matter if you as a Professor of Nutrition of Food Studies or any old Joe Schmo you find on the street, they’ll all tell you the same thing—-we’re simply eating too many calories. And, it’s not just because we’re greedy. Our culture made us that way. Food rarely goes from farm to table. It’s more like farm to factory. The cuisine we eat is loaded with all sorts of additives that are making us fat, sick, and in some cases even malnourished.
It used to be that the typical American consumed roughly 1,850 calories a day. Now, we take in more than 300 extra calories a day. So what accounts for the growth? Calorie-dense foods or overdoing it on the sugary beverages. And for a lot of us, (myself included) we are guilty of indulging in both.
The Western diet is the opposite of how we should be eating. We’re eating fatty foods, empty calories, and red meat like its going out of style. Meat should be complementing our meals but instead, it’s the main attraction for most of us. Fruits, veggies, and things that are actually good for us are the last things we’re trying to chow down on.
American Portion Distortion
Our society seems to think that normal portions are for the birds. The food industry thrives on using larger portions to gain competitive edge and now we’re all just used to going big or going home. “Moderation” is not really a word in our vocabulary. Especially when food is such a huge industry.
Western Diets are Convenient
In the old days, we still ate gargantuan meals consisting of pot roast dripping with gravy and heaping piles of mashed potatoes. But, still, we didn’t have so much access to food and in such varieties that we have today. Food is literally everywhere we go. Even the hardware store sells candy. Plus, it’s quicker to eat things that are processed or picked up from a drive-thru window.
Fixing the Problem
My sudden urge to kick my bad-eating habits to the curb has driven me to start a new lifestyle completely. And, yes, it’s challenging. However, building the routine will make it easier to make these new measures really stick.
Here’s some of the things I’ve been doing to deactivate my western diet:
- I still eat in restaurants more than twice a week. But, I’ve been ordering a salad and appetizer instead of a salad and entree like the old me would have done. But, if I choose to order a whole entree, I make sure I take home half of it to eat for lunch the next day.
- I’ve been eating less meat and choosing better meats to indulge in. For example, I’ve parted ways with my beloved steaks and have been eating salmon or chicken breast instead.
- I bought smaller plates. This might sound weird, but I almost tricked myself into thinking I’m eating a bigger portion than I am.