Tag Archives: Healthy food

The Healthiest Places in the World

Are by all estimations part of a very esteemed short list, by no surprise.  Also by no surprise, the good old US of A is no where in ear shot of this list.  So then naturally, it begs the question–what does it take to be the world’s healthiest country, and are we capable of ever joining the ranks.  So let’s first take a look:

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Japan (Major)
  • South Korea

That’s basically in order, according to average life-spans and incidence of disease.  Notice a trend?  Nearly half the list is comprised of Asian countries.  The list is however fully comprised of countries whose focus has been on good water, clean air, and sustainable, organic farming.  In fact, in many articles I have been reading they don’t even decipher between organic farming, and conventional farming, because organic is the standard.  In many cases there are laws in place to protect consumers from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), and other dangerous pesticides.  So, ok–check.  Healthy growing practices. 

What else?  I noticed that they all eat clean food as a standard.  There aren’t modified ingredients, few refined foods, and very little processing.  Not only does this protect the heart and waistline, it also protects the air and water quality as well–see point above re: healthy agriculture.  In a couple inquiries I sent out in curiosity about clean eating diets, I was met with raised eyebrows and question marks as to what exactly clean eating is!  Can you imagine?  The concept is so normal, it’s not even a concept!  It’s a way of life.  So high quality, clean food.  Check. 

In Okinawa, it is not abnormal for people to live to see 110 years old.  In fact, it’s normal!  The answer?  Simplicity.  The thing we very ironically seem to have to fabricate, and strive for, and invest huge amounts of effort into here in the States.  They eat a plant based diet full of organic, local produce, they walk, do tai chi and martial arts, and stay busy all day long, promoting restful nights sleep.  That’s it!  This is not new information.  We all know this, right?  Eat well, exercise, do meaningful work and sleep.  Essentially, being kind to yourself.  Check.

To be fair, the food, agricultural and nutrition practices in these regions of the world have survived from generation to generation for centuries.  They believe in what they are doing, and there is no other alternative.  They settle for nothing when it comes to health, and the governments make it a determined mission to protect everyone from anything less.  Admirable!  We try here, but we have so much against us.  It doesn’t feel like we really know how to eat.  We follow fad diets, eat crap, put exercising last, and work to make money, as opposed to doing passion driven work.  Take the Netherlands.  It’s cold there.  Yet, there are few cars and everyone rides bikes.  New Zealand has it easiest–they are in the sun all day long eating kiwi’s and enjoying the freedom of building in a multitude of outdoor activities into daily life. 

So can we get there?  We’ll have to each answer that on our own, as it will take a community effort to achieve country wide healthfulness.  Afterall, it’s our demand that drives the production of all our little nutrition sins.  We can learn from these trail blazing countries though that it starts (literally!) from the ground up.  Good water breeds good soil.  Good soil breeds healthy crops.  Healthy crops breed clean air.  Clean air breeds healthy people.  And of course, healthy crops is the beginning of all nutrition.  We have to take it upon ourselves to care more, and pay attention to what we are doing and certainly what we are eating.  Then, surely, Government policies and regulations will respond resoundingly.  Sorry dairy.  Sorry caged animals.  Sorry corn & soy.  We can take this country back!  That’s a start!

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Wieght Watchers, Etc. Inspired & Revisited

Wow, lightbulb moment!  First, I’m so inspired by all the feedback I have gotten from my last post, “Waging War Against Weight Watchers”.  Coming from both sides of the street, some were ready to grab their swords (or forks, as the case may be), and others of you were ready to do the same, but on the side of the Mega Dieteer, Weight Watchers.  One of the comments in particular really gave me my lightbulb moment:

I’m totally with you on being anti-quantification, but the concreteness of it can be very helpful for people who don’t know where to begin…  And if someone follows the SPIRIT of it and really reads the materials and recipes, they’ll move in the right direction.

Do you hear that?  It’s the sound of a million people saying, “I don’t know where the hell to start, but I know I’ve got to start somewhere.”  Weight Watchers, other food diet trends, they are not the enemy.  The war I was proposing to wage was misdirected!  Indeed, anyone who reaches a point in their lives, and admits that they need to do something about regaining control of their health, their weight or their energy needs to go ahead and do just that.  And if “dieting” is in the “doing” credit must be given that at the very least they are on their way.  So instead of trying to beat them, I’m going to join them.  Do Weight Watchers.  But do so consciously and intentionally, with the goal of not just weight loss, but health gain.  Learn!  Learn what labels mean, and educate yourself on the benefits of the points you’re consuming.  Be friendly!  Surround yourself in any way possible with like-minded people who want to be healthy, fit and treat the earth well.

I just watched Forks Over Knives, and am hopeful that the number of viewers will continue to grow.  There is such great, and revolutionary work being done right now to help us all along this food journey.  To help those who have got their plan pretty much figured out, and to help those who are just getting started.  I’ll never love the idea of numbers and food co-existing.  Not in calories, not in points, not in pounds, and not in measurements–I never bake.  But I can respect that somehow people need to save their own lives, and Point A must be as unique for everyone as our eventual diets will be. 

So, before the war has even begun, I’m signing the peace treaty, for there is a much larger battle that we must all fight together. 



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An Eating Disorder I Agree With

So, my last commentary on Orthorexia, which Women’s Health magazine touts as the new generation of Eating Disorders got me going.  Could really keep going about it, but I’ll spare you.  I think you all get the ludicrous connotations involved there.  By the way, would I be crass to get a t-shirt (made of hemp) with “I’m an Orthorexic” on the front?  Probably.  I digress.  Anyway, though I have learned to take much of what he says with a grain of salt, I was particularly amused and intrigued by Dr. Weil’s Daily Tip of the Day:

Everyone prefers some foods over others,but some adults take this to an extreme.  These people tend to prefer the kinds of bland food they may have enjoyed as children – such as plain or buttered pasta, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches – and to restrict their eating to just a few dishes. This condition has been dubbed selective eating disorder (SED), and may eventually be listed by the American Psychiatric Association as an officially recognized eating disorder.

Is anyone else giggling?  Admittedly, I am that person that while helping you up, also laughs when you trip.  Sorry!  But if it’s any consolation, I laugh at myself just the same.  I mean there is something a little humorous about adults whose pallets haven’t adjusted to grains, vegetables and fruits, and instead eat…things that are white.  I won’t call it child food, because (says the woman with no children) I believe that even modest kids have the capacity to love colorful, mineral rich foods.

Joking aside, selective eating disorder (SED) is a symptom.  It’s evidence of the American culture we live in, where sugar, fats and salt reign paramount to whole, clean food.  It’s really no wonder that so many of us suffer from this disorder that there has now been a scientific label applied to it!  Afterall, even socioeconomic status aside, what would any busy intersection, mall, shopping center be without endless opportunity to indulge in fries, burgers, sodas, pizzas, white bread…you name it.

Come to think of it, I feel as badly for those who are being told that because they don’t eat vegetables they have an eating disorder, as I did for myself being told because I eat “too many” vegetables, I have an eating disorder!  I mean at least for me, food is my life and my hobby so I make an effort to consider every meal, and go out of my way to get good, clean food.  It’s natural for me.  But these other guys, with SED, they’re eating what their parents ate.  They’re eating what they ate as a child, and what media and pop culture is shoving down their throats at every turn.  They’re effectively doing what comes natural to them!  And now all the sudden, the very system that gave them McD’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, is now telling them they have a problem??  The only thing I have to battle with is my local Farmer’s Market, they on the other hand have an entire industry to wage a war against!

Yes, they do have a problem, unfortunately.  It’s not exactly fair, but it’s true.  And labeling it is likely only the start of the potential obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar and energy issues that will surely ensue from such a limited diet.  Again, not fair, but if calling it out will inspire some momentum in the opposite direction, it could be a positive thing.  Who knows they could be Orthorexics before they know it!

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