Very few Americans eat healthily. Most are on junk or refined foods that can cause weight gain and chronic diseases. Healthy eating needs to be encouraged. Virginia Sole-Smith, author and dietitian spoke to NPR and revealed tips on eating in a healthy way without adding stigma to body size and weight.
Healthy eating and the USA
Surveys have revealed that most Americans do not eat healthy foods. Nearly 50% of them have junk foods that are laced with fats, unwanted sugars and sodium. This is detrimental for health and can cause several types of chronic diseases such as heart ailments, high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, gut problems and the like.
Dietitian and author of the book The Eating Instinct, Virginia Sole-Smith spoke to NPR on it. She gave tips for people on how to have a balanced and wholesome food without the fear of body-shaming. One should practice healthy eating and also feel good about it.
Virginia feels that when we label a food as unhealthy, there is a feeling of shame and guilt that comes on consuming it. This should not be so. Because it causes eating disorders in teenagers and children and becomes difficult when more than 9 million children in the world have not adequate food to feed themselves.
Food and culture
Virginia admits that eating is not just about nutrients. That is no doubt important. But there is more to food than just the health aspect. She agrees that food has a culture and a connection. Many find eating pleasurable due to this connection with their ancestors. Virginia feels that when a lot of restrictions and rules are attached to foods, it automatically causes people to start having eating disorders.
People are aware about eating healthy foods but they are also getting a lot overwhelmed by all the prohibitions put around certain foods.
Virginia feels that one should not read food package labels or ingredients. She believes that the goal should be to feed and feel good at the same time. Many of the people are unable to feel good after consuming foods. When we stop paying too much of attention to the foods and the nutrient parts, she feels that things settle out well. It will lead to eating of nutrients dense foods and becoming healthy with it.
Eat well and feel good-a solvable problem
Virginia feels that it is absolutely possible that a person eats well and also feels good about it. She feels that the problem is at multiple levels-individual and societal. She also believes that the USFDA has laid down quite narrow definitions about what is healthy and what is not. They have put forth nutrition-based standards ignoring completely the taste and individual preferences. This takes its toll on the minds of the eater and leads to problems.
The dietitian feels that one needs to shift away from minute things and look at things on a larger perspective. There are also issues about race, genes, socioeconomic status, access to foods, access to health care etc. that determine what a person eats and how he manages his or her weight.
Virginia’s book The Eating Instinct explores on how one learns to eat in a toxic food culture and surroundings. Food is meant for nourishment and survival. We feed for ourself and our body.
Virginia has a baby called Violet who had a congenital heart defect and required surgery. She was on a feeding tube and after it was removed refused to eat for quite sometime. The reasons could be multiple and Virginia found that the world is obsessed with diet craze and thinness of the body.