We read a lot these days about climbing obesity rates, poor quality food, and health risks. It often seems, though, that the worrisome news does little to affect how most Americans eat, and what our stores and restaurants continue to offer (the new Peeps donuts and cookie dough Oreos come to mind ….)
While we struggle in private with our own weight and diet demons, this public health and food environment does also help or hinder us. So, we welcome good news when the environment appears to move in better directions. Here, four pieces of good news on that front, along with how to use the news to bolster your own efforts toward healthy weight and diet.
Some Rates Dropping….. For the first time in years, child obesity rates have fallen, after having tripled in the years 1980-2005 (see recap in May 2014 Nutrition Action). While no single factor may account for this, several key public health policies probably contribute (such as school food changes, TV ad regulations, etc.) Similarly, policy changes may have built toward a reported decline in soda consumption, which can ultimately affect both child and adult obesity rates. How can this good news help you? As you struggle with your own weight and diet change efforts, know that “it’s not just you”….the food environment we live in does make a difference, both obvious and subtle. Doing the best you can, and leaving off the self-blame, will only help. In other words, it’ll help a lot to remember “it’s complicated.”
Blue Zones Growing…..You may never have heard of “Blue Zones”. Featured recently in O the Oprah Magazine, this movement first begun in 2004 may gain more recognition. Blue Zone projects involve entire communities in joining together to improve eating and exercise behavior—walking more, as just one example. Blue Zone community residents experience greater success rates, then, on various health markers, including but not limited to weight. The important reminder here: changing behavior in small, doable increments can add up to success. And, the support of others helps tremendously as well. In groups, in fact, we can change environments to support us better.
Diet Books Can Really Support Sane Eating….While diet books usually pump up motivation that fizzles after a short time, I’ve written before about how, considered properly, they can sometimes be more useful. Now, the diet book author who’s helped President Clinton back to heart health, puts it out on national media in plain terms. Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The Blood Sugar Solution: 10-Day Detox Diet, recently told the New York Times, “Writing books, you kind of have to come up with the way to get people’s attention. I would probably call it something different if I had a choice.” Basically, in other words, he likes to emphasize dietary and lifestyle changes that often have weight loss as “a nice side effect”. That’s a great reminder of what’s important if your own efforts too often get crushed by “deprivation mentality”, or diets that eliminate important food groups that won’t sustain you forever.
Flexitarianism Means More Appreciation of Fresh Vegetables….One recent cookbook review charted how many delicious vegetarian cookbooks are being written these days for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. A concensus has grown, it seems, that fresh produce, well-prepared, can taste wonderful and exciting and is worth a serious cook’s effort. Hopefully, this means that the availability of good fresh vegetables will continue to expand, for all of us. Remember, adding vegetables, no matter what else you do or don’t do, health and diet-wise, almost always proves helpful, a definite move in the right direction.
Visit Dr. Katz at Eat Sanely for more on these and related topics