The obesity gut-punch
Gallup reported yesterday “U.S. Obesity Rate Climbs to Record High in 2015.” You can read the report for yourself, but adult obesity rose from 25.5% in 2008 to 28% last year, over six million adults. That’s self-reported, which means the rate is higher.
11.5% have diabetes.
As much as we’ve grown accustomed to these perennial increases, last year’s increase felt like a bigger gut-punch to me.
My 2015 food results: Better taste, lower cost, feeling more full, easier preparation, healthier
Anyone who talked to me in the past six months knows 2015 was probably my best year regarding food. I couldn’t stop talking about the combination of
- Eating more delicious food
- Spending less money on food
- Eating more healthily
- Feeling more full
- Polluting less from food
- Spending less time cooking per meal
- Supporting local farmers more
- Inviting over and cooking for more friends
- Surprising friends at the food’s unexpected deliciousness more
than ever before. Meanwhile, the definition on my abs stays. When I eat too much, I put on fat immediately, so I’m as human as everyone else. It’s not me, it’s my food that gives the results, which I’ll write about below.
I could go on at the combination I wouldn’t have expected had I not experienced it.
While I was achieving it, Americans put on more fat. I described the news as a gut punch because I coach and teach people to improve their lives and few things improve lives more than enjoying food and health. While some obese and overweight people probably enjoy their obesity, the overwhelming majority both want to lose fat and probably don’t enjoy their food like they could.
I feel like I’m helping a few people here and there while tens of millions can’t stop themselves from behavior they don’t like. I imagine they feel helpless, disappointed, anxious, and so on. I know from when I used to eat chips, pretzels, ice cream, and so on a lot how helpless it felt to try to stop.
How to get it all
Is better taste, lower cost, easier preparation, and healthier not the holy grail of food?
Three changes got me the results. I didn’t plan them, but as soon as I tried them, it became clear they worked. I will never go back.
1. Buying more vegetables
Before 2015, I didn’t care much for vegetables. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t care much for them either. I didn’t know how to cook them and didn’t care to learn either.
Nonetheless, knowing they were healthy, and following my pattern of trying things instead of analyzing forever, I joined a farm share, which meant buying more vegetables than ever before, making a rule for myself that I would waste none of it.
This habit forced me to figure out how to eat more vegetables than ever. By my great principle that “Crowding out beats letting go,” more vegetables meant less other stuff.
2. Avoiding food with packaging
Though my goal was to avoid polluting, my experiment “Avoiding food packaging” resulted in my dropping nearly all unhealthy food. I tried it for a week, expecting to last a few days at most, went two-and-a-half weeks without packaging instead, and have dropped my packaging pollution by about eighty or ninety percent since.
The combination of more vegetables and less pre-prepared food forced me to figure out how to make all this healthy food.
I won’t lie. I spent a few months making and eating food that didn’t taste that good. What else could I do with all these vegetables I’d never bought before—chard, radishes, tomatilloes, beets, and so on.
Then came the third change.
3. The pressure cooker
I had no idea how to use a pressure cooker. I only heard they worked better than rice cooker / vegetable steamers. I bought one used, without even a manual (I downloaded it). I watched a few videos online enough to see how to use it.
Then came the vegetable and legume stews—the most delicious, nutritious, inexpensive meals I’ve ever eaten. They destroyed restaurants for me, which seem like expensive, unhealthy junk in comparison that take too long. I wish you could taste these stews. I’m only starting to learn what I can do with them, but I can’t believe how good they taste.
At the same time, it fills you up so fast, you can’t eat much of it, which I presume results from the fiber, which is healthy.
I know how I felt about food before. I liked Doritos and didn’t like cauliflower, which I associated with raw, tasteless vegetables. I’m confident nearly all obese and overweight people prefer unhealthy food to healthy food, not knowing how good healthy food can taste.
The gut-punch is the sadness that tens of millions of people are descending into disappointment, helplessness, diabetes, and more, while the solution is so simple, life-affirming, delicious, and all the things above.
I guess the gut-punch is also that I was on that path before and only through luck and experimentation did I get out of it. I know of no mainstream message promoting the alternative I found as delicious, inexpensive, and convenient, which is all I care about. The healthiness just happened to come with it.
How can I get this message out, that you can have everything with just three changes?
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