There are clear reasons so many people are confused about what a healthy diet is.
This comical image portrays some of the confusion about what we eat and what happens to our body…
Confusion about healthy eating can be dangerous, as the increasing rate of diet related illnesses attest!
Besides contributing to so many modern diseases, confusion about a healthy diet encourages disordered eating. It also adds to the difficulty of recovering from anorexia, binge eating disorders and/or bulimia.
So let’s start to unravel this confusion by looking at 5 of the top reasons smart people who want to be healthy, slim, and happy are reaching for unhealthy foods:
1. Mixed Messages About A Healthy Diet
Many people believe Governments are a legitimate authority on what makes up a healthy diet. If you believe everything a government organization tells you to eat, you might want to look at how they gather their information.
The image on the left shows the US government dietary recommendations up until 1956. You see a balanced mix of food groups, yes?
That’s much different to the pyramid of food recommended today, below on the right. You see this is very grain heavy on the bottom of the pyramid…
Prior to the release of this food pyramid, industry groups with vested financial interests met with government. Those food groups contributed their opinion as to what the public should be told to eat.
Yet, the stamp of approval appears to come from government. Hmmm?
What conclusion is a person to draw about actual health recommendations? Are foods recommended because they are good for the economy, or good for our health?
2. Confusing Product Labeling
Even the humble egg carton needs unscrambling…
You need to decide between caged, cage free, barn laid, farm fresh, free range, true free range, accredited free range, RSPCA approved, organic and even more!
It’s unlikely you even know the specifics of what these mean unless you’ve closely studied labeling laws.
And in Australia for example there are not even any consistent or legally enforceable definitions for egg production systems! 1
3. Advertising Hype
Manufactured food labels often make claims to promote health because they contain antioxidants, phytosterols, low fat, high fibre, or being gluten free or cholesterol free for example.
Any research showing a particular product definitely contributes to a healthy diet is often non-existent to limited. Further, what benefits one person may not be suitable for another.
Some processed foods shout out the apparent benefit of being fortified with minerals and vitamins. Perhaps you wonder as I do whether this type of fortification is a fair trade off with all the nutrients stripped out during processing, and… the preservatives, aritificial flavourings and colourings added in?
Sure the advertising hype may cause sales and company profits to rise.
However, it also contributes to consumer confusion and submission. Many people think “they” (i.e. the big food manufacturers) must know what they’re talking about, so some people just buy according to the newest and best claims by the big manufacturers. This can be a costly mistake in more ways than one.
4. Commercial Business Interests
Fast processed food companies have huge marketing budgets.
McDonald’s apparently now spends in excess of $1 billion per year in advertising!
The big spenders definitely have the ‘loudest voices’ in the market. You see them on the largest billboards, their arches in the most prominent locations, and their ads on prime time TV.
Meanwhile, fresh fruit and vegetables are barely ‘whispering’ their goodness. Good old natural down to earth foods are of course key to a healthy diet. Plus they can be just as tasty given a bit of care and attention.
Yet, they so often lose out to whatever food industry is spending big at the moment.
5. Number of Products
How easy is it to be conflicted when you have 4 or 5 things to choose from?
How much more so when you have over 47,000 products to choose from on your supermarket shelves?
Shopping 70 years ago was fairly straightforward. You bought real foods: foods that came out of a field. Maybe a little honey or sugar found it’s way into your basket to add to a special dessert on Sunday.
Now we are overwhelmed with choice. The few originals from the fields are now far outnumbered by the processed items from the factories.
What You Can Do To Nurture A Healthy Diet
Even with 10’s of thousands of fake foods at our fingertips, we can enjoy a fantastic fulfilling healthy diet!
Here are a five suggestions on what you might do…
- Fill your shopping basket with a wide variety of natural wholesome foods that came out of a field. Bonus if they are local organic produce.
- Take personal responsibility to find out the truth about what you’re eating. Speak to people who know and can tell you why something is healthy for you.
- Question what so-called authority figures are saying and where they sourced their information.
- Look beyond marketing hype and promotional material to decide what’s good for you, rather than letting big business tell you what you should be eating.
- Tune into your own body, see how it responds to certain foods, and what nurtures your health and fitness.