Each day we face a number of choices. What time to get up, what to wear, to make the bed or not, which route to take to work, who to text or not, and the list goes on and on.
But the choice we make most often each day is what food we eat. Multiple times a day we face decisions about what to put into our mouth and, consequently, what will be put into our bodies. These decisions may seem monotonous for some, but for many, each bite is a difficult choice between health and sickness.
The Problem: Food Addiction and Disease
Food addiction is sweeping the nation with unparalleled speed and destruction. According to estimates by David Kessler, the former FDA commissioner, there are more than 70 million food-addicted adults in the United States.
These food addictions are leading to a number of eating disorders and are large contributors to many underweight and overweight patients. Over 39% of the American population or 93.3 million people are obese. Furthermore, millions of Americans are sick, regardless of their BMI. Over 1.5 million people per year die in the United State from preventable disease. In fact, statistics show that the top 15 leading causes of premature death are all preventable with the proper diet and lifestyle.
These startling statistics, among many others, present a clear picture of a serious problem in America: a lack of control with food, leading many to an dig themselves an early grave. The number one killer in America is heart disease, and a number of studies have shown that heart disease is 100% preventable.
In all fairness, it is your right to put in your body whatever you please. You’re not really free if you don’t have control over your own body. However, with rights come responsibilities. So it follows that you ought to be responsible about what goes into your body. How can we govern the rest of our lives, let alone a family, company, or other citizens, if we cannot govern the act of eating?
So how did we get this far? And how do we get our power back?
Thanks to the countless ad campaigns spent by the tobacco, sugar, dairy, meat and supplement industries over the last 100 years, the vast majority of the American public is severely misinformed.
In the early 1900s not only did doctors prescribe smoking to patients for a number of ailments, but they starred in dozens of campaigns promoting smoking. One medical ad even went as far as to claim, “Cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink!”. Today this claim is laughable at best and would be discarded as junk science in seconds.
The dairy industry is another proponent of many health falsities. During the 1990s, posters of celebrity athletes were pasted on nearly every school cafeteria in America with the words, “Got Milk?”. They spent billions of dollars advertising to youth and parents alike that milk was the best source of calcium and essential for our health. The irony? Research has indicated that milk depletes calcium stores and is one of the main causes of Osteoporosis.
These two examples illustrate how a lot of campaign money can convince an entire population of a complete fallacy. And these falsehoods did more than simply mortgage billions of people’s health, they created addictions.
Addiction to cheese products, which contain casein, a substance that releases opiates called casomorphins in the brain are highly addictive.
Addiction to sugar and soda which contain excitotoxins and are specifically designed to give you a high and keep you addicted.
Addiction to high fat foods, which create neurodependency in the brain that are categorized with drugs such as Heroine.
I could go on, but the point is that many of the foods we eat are marketed and designed to keep us coming back for more. So are we all doomed? Are we in too deep? Are we all destined to be slaves to the food industry? The short answer is no. Not even close.
The Choice Is Yours
We are still in control. We are still in power. We may have advertisements and cravings coming at us, but it is us and only us that have the final say about what goes in our mouth. We don’t have to be one of the 1.5 million annually that die from preventable diseases.
We start with each meal, each bite, and each morsel of food. We start by eating more fruit, by eating out a little less each week, and by reaching for the water. Small choices, though difficult at first, can blossom into profound life changes through time and effort.
For instance, a recent Harvard study indicated that each daily serving of bacon increases your risk of premature death by 20%. So making a decision to reach for the bananas tomorrow instead of the bacon can increase your chance of living longer by 20%. That is the impact of just one choice! Over time and with repetition, that one choice gains power.
In short, each time we have a choice, we have to take control. We make choices about food dozens of times a day. Start off with just one of those choices. Then make it two, then three and so on. Properly governing your health can be a transition; it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes care, patience, learning and so on. But can we really claim that we are masters of ourselves if we can’t say no to a dessert tray?
Beginning to take control of our health and eating habits is just the beginning. If you can master that, imagine what other demons you can conquer. When you are free from addiction you can proudly and confidently face life.
Food is a perfect place to start because it is a decision that you make daily, it has nearly immediate (some studies say within seconds) effects on your health, it costs you valuable time and money, and whether you recognize it or not, your food choices have an impact on your self-confidence and mental health.