Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Real Food vs. Obesity

This morning, I read this article, which is all bad news, but worth a read anyway because it focuses on the problem of constant snacking among U.S. kids. Honestly, I don't think it's just American kids who have this particular problem. The article cites Michelle Obama's message to the School Nutrition Association that "parents, educators, and policymakers" share responsibility for the obesity epidemic among young people. But beyond that, the article doesn't really tackle cause of rampant snacking. And that's the real question, isn't it? Why do people feel compelled to eat constantly?

Well, I have a hunch. It stems from my experience, so far, shifting my family away from processed foods and toward real foods. And it is rooted in the  knowledge that my family, too, used to snack all the time. Used to. Now, I can't claim that we never snack anymore. But this is an issue I've been paying attention to lately, in part because I was really worried, at the beginning of this real foods journey, what kind of snacks I could find to replace the processed junk. I need not have worried. As it turns out, preparing real foods has significantly reduced the desire to snack. We just aren't hungry that often anymore. I believe one of the key reasons behind this is the inclusion of healthy fats such as real butter and olive oil. I've stopped avoiding fats in favor of simply choosing healthy fats. The human body needs fats. Fat is in every cell membrane in the human body. Why? For one thing, it is necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K. Maybe~ and it's just a hunch~ the desire to snack constantly stems from the insufficiency of processed foods to meet the needs of the human body. Seriously, what is the point of breaking down a real food into its constituent parts, farming out those parts to various places, reassembling them into pseudo-foods, and marketing that as food? Oh yeah, profit...

I dunno. Maybe the answer to the snacking and obesity quandaries is to eat more real food. Could it be that simple? It's just an idea.  Note to Michelle: "parents, educators, policymakers, and food processors"

This post is participating in Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.


  1. i believe you may have hit the nail on the head here. the simple truth is that most of us snack all the time because we are STARVING - nutritionally starving. and there is the simple fact that these "foods" seem to create cravings for more of themselves - not less.
    very interesting.
    thanks for posting this.

  2. debylynne, Thanks for stopping by! I am not a trained nutrition or health professional, but this idea makes a lot of sense to me. It makes a lot more sense to me than straying far off the path of foods that have supported humans through the ages, which is essentially how I see much of the processed foods currently available.

  3. totally agree. a great read, albiet quite in-depth and with lots of science-speak, is Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories. the author goes into the many reasons why over-consumption of carbohydrates, especially refined ones like those in american snack food, cause so many problems.

  4. My family has been trying to eat "real food" for about 2 years now. It started off with making bread because I kept noticing this strange taste that store bought bread had taken on. I even noticed that it didn't mold anymore and did an experiment on the last loaf I bought just to see how long it would take to mold. A month went by and no mold, (bread should grow mold at some point) but I did end up with a moth problem. Things hatched and ate through the plastic wrapper. From there, we have stopped eating a lot of things. My grocery shopping consists of buying flour and that's about it. I'm working on finding a local source for that. We also avoid anything with Corn Syrup and HF corn syrup. We also have stopped snacking. We just don't get hungry anymore in between meals. This offsets the cost of buying real food. When all is said and done, I think it is cheaper! We buy local grass fed beef, poultry and pork and I am lucky that I also have access to a local diary. It really has not been that hard to do this. Once you get used to finding real food, it becomes easy. I guess it helps also that I refuse to give big food manufacturers my money anymore. I no longer trust them. They have lied to consumers and misled us and they didn't have to. I also am so happy to see small farmers making a come back and what a better way to keep your money in the community!

  5. Emily, Thanks for the book suggestion! I'll see if my library has it.

    Anon, Thanks for sharing this. You are absolutely right. I think this transition is much, much easier if you don't try to change a lifetime of accumulated decisions all at once (as we did in the 28 day challenge). However, in my experience, the first maybe three weeks of going "cold turkey" is hardest and then things start to click. It helps, tons, to have access to people who've been there already. For me, those people are all online. Finding local suppliers takes a little upfront work, but then you know where to go. I currently buy things like dry beans, rice, and produce at the grocery store. When the farmer's market opens and my garden starts producing, I won't buy produce there anymore. I am beginning to reach the point where I can see how eating this way could be cheaper. I'm not totally there yet. And I definitely think the transition is a bit spendy- because so much has to be replaced with better choices. But once you've made it over that hump and are only replacing things as they are used up, the cost is more manageable. And again, we eat less overall because we're not always hungry. Real food= real satisfaction.

  6. As a mom to a carb-addict, I think this is right on track. Oh that I had started my real food journey a little sooner, so I didn't have to wean the family off the bad habits. My eldest loves to munch on processed carbs - cereal, pretzels - whatever he can get. If I'd let him, he'd snack on this stuff all day long. I definitely notice an improvement when we eat real, full fat meals.

    I still struggle to get the kids to eat some things that I really enjoy (raw cheese, fermented foods and drinks), but we continue working towards healthier eating for the whole family, including more real food and real fat.

  7. Laurie, Gosh, I am with you on wishing I'd started the real food journey sooner. My son is the same way and it can be a challenge. But I'm finding the results are worth the struggle.