Local column: New Year, new food

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Our convenience culture is literally becoming the death of us with easy to consume foods and snacks, writes Jason Joyner.

It’s the time of year where people make a resolution to lose weight.

Idaho ranks relatively healthy at a tie for 29th as far as obesity levels by state at a level of 28.9 percent. But that is nearly a third of our population that is at risk for weight-related disease.

The latest research suggests that the biggest component of losing weight comes from our diet. Exercise is so important for our bodies in so many ways, we can’t lose sight of doing that. But if you want to see pounds drop in 2018, look at your diet and how you can change things.

Where does a person start? We’re told to eat this, not that. Don’t eat sugar—but that diet drink is bad for you too. Low carb, no carb, all the carbs. Sometimes diet advice comes across like a Dr. Seuss book: do not eat green eggs and ham, Sam I Am.

The author Michael S. Moss shares troubling insight in his book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat” from 2013. His research shows how food companies know how to find the “bliss point” of food to capture eaters and keep them hooked like drug users. They manipulate salt, sugar and unhealthy fats to keep us addicted to certain types of foods.

We all need to start by becoming informed about nutrition. Even as a physician assistant, I didn’t get much training, and things have changed since I graduated in 2001.

For instance, fat was demonized all through my childhood. We now know that much of that was overblown. Healthy fats like olive oil are an important part of the diet when used properly. We can use these foods to help with satiety, the sense of feeling full, and level out our hunger better.

Carbohydrates are the new bad guys, but again, we need carbs in our diets. We consume way too many simple carbs—foods that turn into sugar in our bloodstream right away, jerking up our insulin levels and putting us on a sugar/insulin roller coaster. Simple carbs make us hungry quickly, which makes us eat more.

If we can switch to complex carbs, foods with increased fiber, it will even out our sugar levels and stop the roller coaster. Basically, if it is white and processed, it is bad for us. We should reach for steel cut oats, quinoa, barley and brown rice over their processed counterparts. Unfortunately for us as Idahoans, we need to moderate our potato intake as well. A naturally prepared potato in moderation is fine, but the fried and frozen forms need to go.

Protein is important and popular right now, but we can take in too much of this as well. Remember foods like beans and nuts for sources of protein that should be mixed into our diet.

This is just a skimming of what could be said on eating healthy.

My general encouragement is to try and eat whole foods and avoid anything processed for quick preparation. Our convenience culture is literally being the death of us with easy to consume foods and snacks. Take some time on the weekend to make some healthy foods or prepare ingredients for the week when we’re busy. Realize there is no quick fix for weight loss. We need to change our habits for the long-term in order to see improvement in our lives, and reduce the disease burden in our state.

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