Of course, it's impossible to think about this past year (or the past two years) without COVID being front and center.
There is no disputing that COVID has been absolutely devastating, especially for families who have lost loved ones over the past two years. It is now estimated there have been over 750,000 Covid-related deaths in the U.S. since the pandemic started.
Would you be surprised to know that Covid was actually the third-highest cause of death in 2020?
Would it also shock you to know that poor diet continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S.?
It is estimated that poor diets are responsible for over 500k deaths every year.
You read right...over 500,000...every year!
Dr. David L. Katz, a leading expert in preventive and lifestyle medicine, has said, "Diet is the single leading cause of premature death (and by the way, chronic disease) in the United States today, and increasingly throughout the modern world. We're talking about, in the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of deaths every year."
And unfortunately, it's getting worse, if you can believe that. Deaths related to heart disease continue to increase every year, increasing by almost 5% in 2020. The same is true for diabetes, strokes and other diet-related diseases.
Are we responding like we should?
What if we used the same energy and resources as the Covid pandemic to tackle the "poor diet pandemic" that is causing hundreds of thousands of deaths EVERY YEAR? And, it's not just about preventing deaths.
There are so many benefits to helping our society improve its eating habits...everything from well-being, mental and emotional health, decreased healthcare costs (cardiovascular disease alone costs over $350 billion annually in healthcare spending and lost productivity), environmental sustainability, and even national security (over 70% of those ages 17-24 do not qualify for military service and obesity is the #1 cause).
A simple solution?
EAT REAL FOOD!
(You knew that was coming!)
Easy? Not so much.
There are so many barriers that keep people from fully embracing what we now know results in real health and vitality.
We are bombarded with confusing messages about what to eat and not to eat (many coming from people and organizations who don't have your best interests in mind). Unfortunately, the healthcare system still largely focuses on treating conditions instead of preventing disease and enable good health.
There is good news! In our experience, there are increasing numbers of caring doctors and healthcare providers embracing preventive and lifestyle medicine, which is very exciting!
Then, there are the skills like planning, shopping and cooking. And overcoming all the perceptions like "eating healthy is too expensive" and "it takes too much time" and "it doesn't taste good."
We are truly dedicated to help you overcome each and every one of these obstacles!
Here is a quick review of some of our coaching tips to help you succeed, built around the 10 directives found in a recent Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.
- Adjust energy intake and expenditure to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Read more here about how healthy eating and exercise to hand-in-hand.
- Eat plenty and a variety of fruits and vegetables. This is one of the reasons we highly encourage eating with the seasons!
- Choose whole grain foods and products. Our coaching tip These Carbs Can Save Lives provides more information on whole grains and how to enjoy them.
- Choose healthy sources of protein (mostly plants; regular intake of fish and seafood; low-fat or fat-free dairy products; and if meat or poultry is desired, choose lean cuts and unprocessed forms). Feel free to check out our coaching tips on legumes, nuts, choosing seafood, avoiding processed meats, using caution with plant-based meat alternatives, and the differences between grass-fed and finished beef vs. conventional beef.
- Use liquid plant oils rather than tropical oils and partially hydrogenated fats. Remember, we have a coaching tip and grocery store tour discussing the variety of cooking oils.
- Choose minimally processed foods instead of ultra-processed foods. We get more in-depth on ultra-processed foods in this coaching tip.
- Minimize the intake of beverages and foods with added sugars. This coaching tip describes where added sugars are hiding and how someone could easily be consuming over 1/3 cup of added sugar every day.
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Read these coaching tips to to learn more about sodium in your food and why it is also important to increase your potassium intake.
- If you do not drink alcohol, do not start; if you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. If you are interested, you can read these coaching tips about cooking with beer and tips on enjoying and cooking with wine.
- Adhere to this guidance regardless of where food is prepared or consumed. Don't miss our coaching tips on eating out, the challenges in our food culture and environment, tailgating tips, and our slowly growing resource for REAL food restaurants on the road.
Thanks to you, we continue to see the REAL FOOD lifestyle works!
We love hearing your stories about ditching your medications, losing weight healthfully, and your visits to the doctor who says, "whatever you're doing, just keep doing it!"
We can't wait to hear even more of these stories in 2022!