I’ve read a lot about sugar consumption, health, diabetes and the general sad-sack state of our food options in the US over the past five years. I’m sure, like most Americans, I’m nearly bombarded with not just junk food, processed food and tinkered-with food but also the message (news articles, 60 Minutes reports, books) about what these minefields of dodgy food are doing to us both individually and collectively.
We know this.
We know this.
Yet, we continue to eat this crap.
I ate so much Halloween candy that the roof of my mouth was sore. Every single night (seriously, every single night) we eat dessert. My kids get up from dinner and go immediately to the freezer or pantry. There is no concept that we wouldn't eat dessert.
Over the years, though I know the dangers of eating and living this way, I’ve comforted myself with the idea that because we’re not overweight and don’t have any sugar-related health issues like adult-onset diabetes or liver issues, we’re fine. We’re not part of the group of Americans with a problem.
Bless my heart.
I sound like a true addict.
I watched this TedTalk last week after seeing it come up a few times while I was researching counseling stuff:
It kept showing up time and again, and finally I listened to the Universe and clicked on it and watched. It’s nothing ‘new,’ per se. But there is a moment when Schmidt starts to get real. She talks about how public health messages fail. She recognizes that we know better, that we’ve heard the right messages, and still, we continue to eat food that is literally killing us. She draws a comparison between drug and alcohol saturated environments in large cities and the sugar and chemical-laced environments of our grocery stores, restaurants and homes.
Yes. Some of our homes are saturated environments. Mine is.
Here are some pictures of what is currently in my kitchen (even the peanuts have sugar):
I have gone, over the years, downhill. Ten years ago, when my kids were little, there wasn’t anything like Hamburger Helper in the pantry. We had far less junk. But as they get older, and their tastes are pickier, and we are busier, the pantry has somehow become filled with processed junk.
I feel like my kitchen is one of those saturated environments from the video, except it’s not drugs and alcohol I have to walk by; it’s junk food.
My husband and kids love junk food, and so do I. However, I don’t want to love it, eat it or have it in the house; they do. If I don't buy chips, crackers, cookies, ice cream, Italian ice cups or other assorted junk, my husband will go to the store himself and buy it. Maggie once rode her bicycle, with two flat tires, to the grocery store, stocked up on junk food and hid it in her bathroom cupboard.
When we have junk food in the house, I feel like I spend my day resisting it, avoiding it and, most often, giving into it.
It sucks. It’s hard when the people we live with don’t share our values. It’s hard when I have to admit to myself (after just buying chocolate-covered marshmallows for the kids and caramel corn for my husband and toffee myself), that if I’m going to be all righteous and point fingers, I’ve got to point one right here, at my own sweet face.
It vexes me all the more because I know better and have the resources to do better.
So, in my mind, I go back to Glasser’s Choice Theory.
What can I control?
What are my choices?
How can I affect my own behavior to be in line with my values?
It’s food for thought (I know).
Do you make good food choices? Do you live in a saturated environment? Do you live with someone whose values differ from yours regarding health/diet?
For me, for now, my goal will be just eating homemade or whole foods. I like sugar and candy as much as anyone else, but if I make it at home, with real ingredients, I can feel better about it vs. eating chemical-laced, engineered products that are created to addict me.
As for the family? I guess I need to just let them peddle their bikes to the market should they need an Oreo fix, flat tires and all. At least there’s some exercise involved. :)
On a positive note, that Thiebaud painting holds a special place in my heart. The first time I took Maggie to an art museum, in Sacramento, they had a Thiebaud exhibit. My husband was deployed, and I’d created a list of things I wanted to do instead of sitting at home…waiting. Taking Maggie to an art museum was on the list, and we had a wonderful day. We ate cupcakes in the cafe, walked through the museum, and I was positive and supportive of her favorite piece of ‘art,’ which was a sculpture depicting the differing perspectives of the anti-death penalty sentiment, complete with a foot pedal that lit up a flash of lights. It was an effort on my part to honor her taste in that moment, but I was supportive and kind.
Art is art, right?