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Why has eating healthy become such a challenge?

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  • Why has eating healthy become such a challenge?

    Why has eating healthy become such a monumental challenge amongst western societies? And I don't mean in terms of willpower. There are plenty of people out there who follow very strict diets, track their macros and exercise religiously, yet still fail to lose weight. Rather, I mean in terms of the ubiquity of unhealthy food everywhere. It's basically impossible to find a restaurant that serves healthy food. Grocery stores are dominated by processed food, and almost scientifically designed to maximize impulse purchases. Even the meat & produce sold in grocery stores are untrustworthy because of factory farming, pesticides, growth hormones, etc. And don't even get me started on the astonishing amount of fad diets and general misinformation, especially the conventional wisdom that whole grains are healthy and that cholesterol & saturated fats are not. I'm aware much of this dietary disaster is based on big industry and trading health for convenience, but how did it ever shift so far that eating healthy is basically impossible for all but the most vigilant and well educated?

    I mean think about it: What are the odds that the average citizen abandons grocery shopping altogether in favor of farmer's markets and co-ops, avoids strenuous cardio in favor of low-level aerobic activity and short bouts of intense strength training & sprints, sleeps without an alarm clock, and so on? Next to none, unless they make a very dedicated effort to read nutrition books & blogs. And not just that, the RIGHT books & blogs, so as to avoid the horrors of conventional wisdom.

    Maybe it's just me, but in trying to convert to a healthy diet, I almost feel like various daily influences are trying to trick me into an unhealthy diet, and that I need an absurd, over-the-top amount of diligence to actually eat and live healthy. So as a matter of philosophical inquiry, how has the western diet reached a point where even well-intentioned dietary efforts are more than likely doomed to failure?

  • #2
    Follow the money.

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    • #3
      It's to do with the money.
      Meat is Prized, Wheat is Despised.

      Real Food - The REAL staff of life

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      • #4
        Everything in perspective. Here, you can get pretty much anything you want and there are huge areas of the grocery store filled with produce, International doods, O3 eggs, Organic foods... and there are specialty stores. Local farmers deliver cows and pigs and chickens right to your doorstep, and the freezer. I can purchase whatever I need from supplements to dehydrator... As for restaurants, I can't be bothered to waste money on someone else's cooking.

        On the other hand, when I was growing up, everyone was trying to snatch that piece of land and cultivate it over the summer after a long ride on a bus and a near-city train, to grow enough potatoes, can enough cucumbers, preserve enough black currants in a jam and scour the forests to pickle enough mushrooms to last the winter. We ate fruits by the bucket in August because by September they would be gone. The stores were intermittently supplied with grains, can and some low quality meat. Dairy was super, but all pasteurized, unless in the summer you went to that plot of land out of the city and bought it from a villager who had a personal cow. Going to a restaurant was unethical behavior unfit for anything but a wedding.

        I prefer my current situation than the past. Yeah, it is a consumer paradise, make it work for you.
        My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
        When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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        • #5
          My favorite explanation is centralized manufacture and transporting water mass.

          Sounds weird?
          The H2O fractions of soybean oil, corn syrup, and wheat flour range from 0~10%
          The H2O fractions of whole foods range from 60~95% (much like all flora and fauna in nature)

          The people who make, ship, and sell the former can invade virtually every environment--the corner store, drive thru, school cafeteria, office party, cinemas, stadiums, etc.

          The people who make, ship, and sell the latter have all sorts of added logistical challenges. They become less visible, less familiar, and ironically more readily scrutinized. People feel comfortable criticizing a homemade omelet as a high-cholesterol illicit thrill because they don't do any cooking at home anyway, but they don't bat an eye at a frozen Lean Pocket because the logo is familiar.
          37//6'3"/185

          My peculiar nutrition glossary and shopping list

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          • #6
            Grok can keep his spear. I really don't think there has ever been a better time to live nutritionally speaking than the present. Yes you can live the SAD lifestyle and that sucks. But you also have the ability today to maximize genetic potential that was never achievable back in the good old days. Today we have easy access to tons of scientific studies and research to know what works and what does not work. We have access to a wide range of foods at any time to help maximize health and performance benefits. We can supplement our diet with vitamins and nutrients like fish oil and vitamin D that were not available in the past. God bless Grok for trying to catch and eat the amount of salmon to equal the amount of omega 3 I get in about 2 seconds or sunning himself outside in the dead of winter trying to avoid a vitamin D deficiency.
            Last edited by prime11; 05-21-2013, 01:48 PM.

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            • #7
              Processed foods are packaged and advertised very effectively. Also they are nowadays meticulously designed not to have any overriding taste, so that the body's response is to just keep eating them.
              Healthy is the new wealthy.

              http://www.facebook.com/groups/ances...handnutrition/

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              • #8
                You get what you pay for. Grass-fed meat and organic produce may be a lot healthier than bread and packaged food, but they're also more expensive. Government spending distorts food prices quite a bit, though. Farm bills have made wheat, corn, and soy products a lot cheaper, for example.
                In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

                This message has been intercepted by the NSA, the only branch of government that listens.

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                • #9
                  It can be incredibly difficult to find unadulterated food. It's almost like food-makers are dumping toxic waste through the food supply. They get more and more brazen about it, too. I mean, not long ago I was almost fooled with "Pure Black Pepper" that was anything but pure or pepper. It was sugar, salt, additives and a little bit of pepper. Anything for profit. I see this in almost all industries these days, not just food.

                  Here's a great Ted talk about guerilla gardening and taking back your food security. I think this provides a little hope.
                  Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA | Video on TED.com
                  Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jefferson1775 View Post
                    You get what you pay for. Grass-fed meat and organic produce may be a lot healthier than bread and packaged food, but they're also more expensive. Government spending distorts food prices quite a bit, though. Farm bills have made wheat, corn, and soy products a lot cheaper, for example.
                    Have you compared the price of an organically produced paleo/primal diet, with that of a processed food + bog standard fresh produce diet? In my experience they tend to work out about the same because although organic is more expensive, you save by not buying any processed stuff, and because you don't need to eat as much.
                    Healthy is the new wealthy.

                    http://www.facebook.com/groups/ances...handnutrition/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Owen View Post
                      Have you compared the price of an organically produced paleo/primal diet, with that of a processed food + bog standard fresh produce diet? In my experience they tend to work out about the same because although organic is more expensive, you save by not buying any processed stuff, and because you don't need to eat as much.
                      I ate the Standard American Diet for many years. It is much cheaper than eating paleo. Saving money in the short term has never been a selling point for living the primal lifestyle. It does have the benefit of long term health, however.

                      We live in different countries, so government programs are different. Here, the prices of wheat, corn, and soy products are artificially low, so people have an incentive to buy them over healthier options. Even when processed foods are more expensive, this reflects that they require less time to prepare. Poor people are often short on money and time, unfortunately.
                      In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

                      This message has been intercepted by the NSA, the only branch of government that listens.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by picklepete View Post
                        My favorite explanation is centralized manufacture and transporting water mass.

                        Sounds weird?
                        The H2O fractions of soybean oil, corn syrup, and wheat flour range from 0~10%
                        The H2O fractions of whole foods range from 60~95% (much like all flora and fauna in nature)

                        The people who make, ship, and sell the former can invade virtually every environment--the corner store, drive thru, school cafeteria, office party, cinemas, stadiums, etc.

                        The people who make, ship, and sell the latter have all sorts of added logistical challenges. They become less visible, less familiar, and ironically more readily scrutinized. People feel comfortable criticizing a homemade omelet as a high-cholesterol illicit thrill because they don't do any cooking at home anyway, but they don't bat an eye at a frozen Lean Pocket because the logo is familiar.
                        It's not just water mass. I think you're trying too hard. For one, There are other logistical challenges. Fresh food will perish quickly. For two, there's the whole pleasure element that people base their decisions off of. A banana doesn't look as appetizing as a banana candy for the average kid.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Owen View Post
                          Have you compared the price of an organically produced paleo/primal diet, with that of a processed food + bog standard fresh produce diet? In my experience they tend to work out about the same because although organic is more expensive, you save by not buying any processed stuff, and because you don't need to eat as much.
                          And when you take medical costs into account, taking care of yourself by eating healthier is far cheaper.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jefferson1775 View Post
                            I ate the Standard American Diet for many years. It is much cheaper than eating paleo. Saving money in the short term has never been a selling point for living the primal lifestyle. It does have the benefit of long term health, however.

                            We live in different countries, so government programs are different. Here, the prices of wheat, corn, and soy products are artificially low, so people have an incentive to buy them over healthier options. Even when processed foods are more expensive, this reflects that they require less time to prepare. Poor people are often short on money and time, unfortunately.
                            Yes I get the impression that convenience foods are on the whole cheaper in the US than in the UK (though they are getting cheaper here also) and maybe there is an even higher mark-up on organic stuff in the US?

                            When I went primal with diet I found that I had more money because I no longer bought convenience snacks and all the peripheral stuff that I used to eat, and also because I cook things like stews where I can do a job lot and live off it over a few days. I've also begun foraging wild food (greens that grow wild) which has been a further improvement to my diet, more money saving, not to mention highly nutritious.
                            Healthy is the new wealthy.

                            http://www.facebook.com/groups/ances...handnutrition/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Amalgam54 View Post
                              Why has eating healthy become such a monumental challenge amongst western societies?
                              Easy.

                              People eat what's there.

                              What else would they eat? They would have to entirely dislodge themselves from their surrounding society to overcome the situation (which many of us here have actually done).

                              In non-Western societies where the food environment is not crap, people don't have this problem.

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