Make a healthful 2009 New Year’s resolution
It’s the time for New Year’s resolutions ” the usual things: lose weight, pay down the credit card debt, save for the future, strengthen personal relationships, etc. What about one that could literally save your life?
I’m talking about the “killer foods” we consume ” killer foods containing excessive amounts of sugar, fats (the worst of which are trans fats),and salt, which make up far too much of too many people’s diets. These foods include French fries, potato chips, and a profusion of fat-fried foods, usually accompanied by the ubiquitous high-in-fat hamburger, and a myriad of prepared foods containing way too much salt, and soybean oil, which can account for as much as 10 percent of our caloric intake. The average American diet contains an astounding 3 pounds of sugar per week from candy, sodas and juices loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, and sugar-coated breakfast foods.
And hear ye, all those who pat themselves on the back for drinking only diet sodas to reduce their caloric intake. Researchers have found when you taste something sweet, your brain preps you for a big intake of calories, and when the diet soda doesn’t provide it, the brain tries to make up for it by sending out hunger signals. So you can end up consuming more calories than you saved by drinking the diet soda.
Add these foods to the sedentary jobs and lifestyles so many of us have, and you have a lethal combination leading to becoming overweight or obese, which produce diabetes and atherosclerosis, resulting in organ failure, heart disease and heart attacks. Many of us spend way too much time sitting in front of the television stuffing ourselves snacking on the worst possible foods.
And children, after sitting in school for several hours a day, occupy themselves at home with computer games, watching television or playing with their array of high-tech gadgets, instead of getting some beneficial exercise. They also ride to school instead of walk, which would be better for them.
The result is that two-thirds of adults in America and three times as many of our children as thirty years ago are overweight or obese. The future medical costs associated with these figures is alarming.
A number of governmental agencies are starting to outlaw certain harmful foods. New York City prohibits food suppliers, including restaurants, from providing any foods containing trans fats. Colorado is taking action to improve the quality of foods offered in schools, including removing soda dispensers. And California has long led the nation in public health and environmental regulations. You may say this smacks of socialism, but when public health is involved, the government has an obligation to protect the public from harmful products. That is why we have pure food and drug laws, laws against lead-based paints, smoking restrictions, and air and water pollution control regulations (protecting us from such harmful substances as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides), safe drinking water standards, and smoking restrictions. Only government can act to control the amounts of harmful substances in the food chain, which is essential if health care costs are ever to be contained.
Junk foods are not addictive like nicotine, but they are habit forming and can be just as lethal. So let your 2009 New Year’s resolution be to eat a healthful diet. Your life depends on it.
Here’s wishing us all a Happy New Year and that 2009 will end better than it is starting.
Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday.
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Sticks in the mud. Overly cautious. Obstacles to progress.