There is so much information available to us all these days; we are bombarded by newspapers and magazines extolling the virtue of the latest diet or fitness plan endorsed by some super skinny celeb, there are TV programmes on almost every day with tales of obese / morbidly obese people who went on drastic diets / had gastric bypass etc and you only have to type in ‘diet book’ into Amazon to get 47,285 results! And all of that is before we search the net (Google search for diet reveals 589, 000 000) or speak to family and friends!
In short, everyone has an opinion on diets, weight loss, exercise etc and no one is backwards at coming forwards – we all cant wait to tell our friends when we manage to lose some weight and how we did it and we are all equally as quick to say that something didn’t work and it was a waste of time!
But what is a healthy way to lose weight, what is a healthy diet and what is healthy for me, is that right for you?
No matter how many books I read or how many conversations I have about what is recommended and what isn’t so many people are so closed-minded and believe whatever it is they are told by the magazines, TV or infomercials; namely that just eating soup / juice / fruit (insert your favourite restrictive diet practice) will work; that all this weight will magically disappear in a matter of weeks or months; that I can eat next to nothing, exercise hard and still be healthy; that I can eat what I want and as long I do ten minutes of cardio it will all be ok: how can we all be so well informed and yet still so ignorant of the basics of nutrition, health and fitness?
How have we ended up with a generation with so many appalling eating habits that our children are being diagnosed as obese at primary school?
I look at my parents and how and what they eat and realise that what I choose to eat now (healthy, clean and lean) is really not so far from the diet I grew up with; meals at home always involved a meat (my dad won’t eat fish) and the majority of the time it was accompanied by potatoes and copious amounts of vegetables. Whilst I am avoiding the nursery food desserts (home-made rice pudding, sponge pudding and custard) I understand why we had them – money was short and it was a way of filling us children up and making sure we had enough to eat. Nothing was pre-packaged or ready-made everything was made by my mum or dad in the kitchen – mum and dad largely still eat like that and are incredibly fit and healthy for their age(s).
Somewhere between my parents generation and my own we discovered excessive carbs, ready-made cakes, ready meals, biscuits, sweets and a large number of us lost the ability to say “no thank you, I’ve had enough!”. Was it the introduction of mass cheap refrigeration, TV or the cheap European holidays that introduced us to pasta, rice and wine? And somewhere between my generation and my children’s we ended up feeling that we couldn’t deny our children whatever they wanted be that junk food or material possessions – a result of working parents maybe?
Either way we have a generation of adults and children that has only really known fast quick convenient food, who cannot cook, who would rather drive to McDonald’s than walk 5 steps to kitchen and has no understanding of the seasonality of food, who doesn’t understand from which animal meat is actually derived and who has no comprehension of how many calories they are consuming at every meal.
Our epidemic of obesity is, in reality our biggest ticking time bomb, something that will threaten our constrained NHS resources and will put increasing pressure on social, medical and infrastructure services – after all if you are morbidly obese and you need an ambulance they have to send a specific bariatric vehicle which has reinforced equipment but what about public transport, doctors surgeries, school classrooms? And what about the huge increase in costs which will need to be borne by the taxpayer – is that something we should all be funding?
In short, never have we been so well-informed and never, as a society, have we been so overweight and unhealthy. Ultimately we must all share a collective responsibility but whilst many of us are keen to lose weight and be healthier are we conscious of the messages we are passing down to our children – particularly to our daughters; girls who grow up watching their mum’s struggle with weight issues are at a greatly increased risk of developing anorexia and other weight related issues.
So what of the future? As the adults we must learn to eat healthily and embrace real unadulterated food, in season, fresh and prepared in our own kitchens. We must try to pass what we learn onto our children and encourage them to make healthy choices now, not when they are adults themselves. We must learn to live well – happy, healthy and fit for we do only have one life and the better we take care of it the more of it we can enjoy, both now and in the future.