In my first week on my medically supervised diet, I lost 2.5 lbs. To those of us who are used to fad diets, and starvation diets, and quick-weight-loss programs that may seem like too little. But I’m assured by my physician and my dietician/counselor that I won’t immediately regain that weight. And at this point in my life, I’m trying to focus on the long-term.
I’m also told that I am/have been dehydrated (who knew) even though I’ve been drinking plenty of tea, diet soda, etc. every day. I’m trying to fix that by being sure to drink at least 64 oz of WATER every day (I wonder what I would do if I were unlucky enough to live in one of the places like Kentucky or Arkansas whose safe water supply has been recently compromised).
I read an op-ed piece in the New York Times today by Mark Bittman, entitled Abundance Doesn’t Mean Health. Here are some of the salient points he made. His facts were reported in Oxfam’s recent report on nutrition and food in 125 countries.
- We rank first in food affordability; food is cheap compared with other things we buy, and prices are relatively stable. We also rank highly (4th) in food “quality,” which is measured by (potential) diversity of diet, though access to good water is shockingly low (tied for 41st, about a third of the way down the list).
- When it comes to healthy eating as measured by diabetes and obesity rates, we’re 120th: sixth from the bottom, better off only than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Fiji and our unlucky neighbor Mexico. (Canada fares a little better; it’s 18th worst.)
- We’re also in a tie (with Belarus and other powerhouses) for 35th in “enough to eat.”
- Much of what’s grown with the potential to become “food” is actually turned into edible foodlike substances — in short, junk food — that produces the opposite of health.
- While we generally manage to keep the neediest quarter of our population from actually starving, we do not reach everyone who could use help; for example, only half of those Californians eligible for food stamps (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) actually get them.
- The budget for food education in the United States pales compared with the marketing budget for junk food, and much of that education is either unconvincing or ignored in the face of the barrage of “fun to eat” ads for the food that is worst for us.
- Part of the problem lies in oversight…we do not have an official government policy or agency responsible for coordinating and assuring that the nation’s investment in food and agriculture is for a nourishing and healthful food supply.
- In the long run, what’s needed is not a Farm Bill but a national food and health policy, one that sets goals first for healthful eating and only then determines how best to produce the food that will allow us to meet those goals. It doesn’t make sense to tell people to eat vegetables and then produce junk; that leads only to bad health in the face of evident abundance.
All of this was brought home to me yesterday as I trudged around the supermarket stocking up on fruits and vegetables – the staple of this diet that I’m on. I filled my basket with the “good” stuff (zero canned foods, zero meat, zero cakes, cookies, snacks, etc.), and checked out to the tune of $54.65.
I swiped my rewards card, and came up with a savings of $00.00.
No rebate/perks/encouragement for buying and eating the stuff that’s good for you.
And is it any wonder that folks on SNAP are reluctant to spend their small amount of available cash on the “good stuff”?