Our Toxic Food Culture

Only 12% of American adults are considered metabolically healthy.  12%.  That means that 88% of us have some sort of disease or condition that impacts our metabolic health.  Diseases like overweight or obesity, prediabetes and diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, etc.

These diseases are called lifestyle diseases.  They are directly related to the quality of the food we are eating.  This has to change.

We are busy humans.  Most of us are so wrapped up in our day-to-day business that we don’t have a lot of energy to devote to bigger problems.  Hopefully we all have at least one or two major issues that we are passionate about – but most of the time, when it comes to big, chronic cultural issues, we only pay attention to the issues that are presented to us by the news or social media.

For a number of reasons – most of them financial – this epidemic of chronic disease related to food gets very little national attention.  It’s sad, but true.  

There are fantastic people out there trying to fight the big fight.  Brilliant, educated people like Robert Lustig, Marion Nestle, Mark Hyman, David Katz, Gary Taubes just to name a few.  

And hopefully they will succeed.  They have big voices and can reach huge audiences.  

My voice is much smaller but I am determined to fight it as well.  I will keep fighting this battle on a local level – one person at a time.  

The more we talk about it – individually, locally, nationally – the more people will start to realize:

We live in a toxic food environment.  A toxic food culture.  

We live in a culture in which our food system mainly produces and promotes disease-causing foods.  A culture that makes it almost impossible to make the right food choices.  A culture in which our government supports the sale and production of these foods and a culture in which these foods are designed by food companies to be biologically addictive.  

To fix this problem on a grand scale, we are going to have to make big changes in our entire food environment – in our entire food culture.  Policy changes – just like we did with big tobacco.  It’s going to take time – but it has started in small pockets all over the country.

Until that happens, we are going to have to work on ourselves.  On our own individual food culture.  On the food culture under our own roofs.  In our own workplaces.  

In our current food culture, food is the central theme in our gatherings – in our day-to-day interactions.  Not usually healthy food.  We struggle to have fun without unhealthy food.  When you take food out of the equation, most of us don’t know how to fill that void.  We have to get creative.  

Try this:  gather a few friends together in your living room to play a silly board game rather than inside a restaurant to gorge on unhealthy food.  Heck, gather them outside and play ladder ball or corn hole.  

Next time there is a potluck at work, bring a veggie tray rather than a tray of cookies.  

Next time your kids do well at a game, celebrate with a game at Top Golf rather than a trip to Dairy Queen.  

The possibilities are endless.   They may seem odd at first, but we are adaptable – once we do something enough, it becomes a habit.

Start working on separating food from pleasure

And as always, if you are struggling and need more help, you know where to find me!

Courtney Younglove, M.D.

ATTENTION LAWRENCE PATIENTS: 18th Street is closed at Wakarusa until further notice due to construction. You can access our parking lot via Research Parkway and Research Park Drive. Expect traffic delays and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to our office.
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