I just finished the recently released (May 2014) food documentary, Fed Up.
Given the fact that I work for an agricultural commodity promotional group (Hey-Beef Checkoff!) and that I personally find great amounts of satisfaction and joy in being able to raise livestock for meat and veggies for…dinner as a side hobby, I’m pretty passionate about the general topic of food. In all reality- aren’t we all?
Anyhow- “Fed Up” certainly covers a wide variety of topics associated with the obesity epidemic, childhood obesity, the food industries, governmental regulations, the food lunch program and food policy…to name a few. This blog post could quickly turn into a novel of my poorly researched facts and opinions so I’ll keep it high-level, for your sake and mine.
High-level…high-level. Sugar. Government Regulation. Food Industry.
That about sums up the high-level themes of the documentary. The food industry has the potential to profit a great deal by selling more processed foods to time and budget pinched Americans and when they catered to the ‘low-fat’ trend that boomed in the 1980s, they substituted in sugar to replace some fat, and the cheapest source of that was in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Enter primary demon of ‘Fed Up’– sugar. The weight-loss industry stepped in to save the day by targeting us all with quick and easy schemes to burn the fat and get thin…which they of course profited from as well and oddly enough, America kept getting more and more overweight and we continued to enjoy the market basket of health issues that comes with being overweight. Clearly Americans must just be lazy, gullible, unmotivated gluttons and we shouldn’t be held at all responsible for the simple choice we all enjoy three times a day when we fill our bodies with edibles. We need more governmental regulations associated with the simple human necessity we call mealtime. (I’m trying to control my urge to spin off on a thousand potential tangents here.)
High-level and simplified take-away’s that I, personally, with zero formal nutrition education am walking away from the film with. (These are in no particular order)
- No one can firmly argue against the fact that Americans would benefit greatly by reducing the quantity of processed foods we consume and that we find readily available in just about every public building we walk into and can purchase for literally pennies. It’s no surprise that the cards are definitely stacked against us when it comes to trying to consume a healthier array of foods. Candy rack here, soda commercial there, billboard telling me why my life will suck without their potato chips there. We get it, we get it. Processed foods are everywhere and we’re reminded of that constantly.
- Along those lines- what is the deal with processed foods anyway? I am a proud baby born in the late 1980s and I practically grew up with those reduced-fat, 100 calorie snack packs that flooded the market in every form imaginable. To me, the concern that lurks in the shadows of the cheery low-fat, small portion snack pack is the sugar and solidified vegetable oils that accompany the hefty doses of refined carbohydrates. Essentially, nothing of nutritional benefit comes from those packs. A quick sugar-fix and a peppy mood for about 30 minutes but before long, I’m hitting another snack bag since the first one was either burned off or stored as fat shortly after hitting my gut. Processed, sugar-filled snacking has got to stop. (Think ‘ants on a log’ or carrot sticks, dried fruit and nuts, an apple or (insert any other fruit). We have options.
- We are completely capable of being personally responsible for our own dietary choices. We can blame shift all we want about whose fault it is that we eat the way we do. A tiny portion can be blamed on genetics, but besides that, it’s all us. Is it at all important to us to live a full life and thrive in our home life, work place, and community? If so, we have got to prioritize what we value to reflect that. Personally, feeding my soul comes first, followed by feeding my body. (And to be completely honest here, feeding my soul (reading God’s word, praying to Him) is something I do struggle with daily and have to remind myself that I often times fail to prioritize my relationship with God the way I should.) Second comes the very real responsibility to appropriately feed our own bodies. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m eating beneficial to me, is it delivering any meaningful nutrients?” Let’s own this!
- General rules of thumb- is it a ‘real’ food…is it a ‘whole’ food? This isn’t rocket science. Eat the whole apple and skip the apple juice. Skip the ‘Hot Pocket’ and have some real meat. Spend some quality time in the kitchen preparing food made with real ingredients, not “a can of this, a packet of that, and jar of this.” Dice the onion, grill the steak, steam the broccoli, roast the potato…etc. When you’re in the grocery store– avoid the ‘center of the store’ as much as possible. Shop the perimeter where you usually find the dairy, meat and produce isles. Lastly, let’s get back to treating ‘treats’ as just that…a treat (preferably homemade).
End rant. It’s dinnertime anyway!