So, what's going on?
The nation seems to be getting sicker. While genetic predisposition to certain chronic illness is undisputed, there seem to be other factors at play that are making us less healthy - one of which is the food we eat. ABC news recently reported research indicating that "the same or related E. coli in human infections are being found in retail meat sources, specifically chicken."
Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, and the documentary Food Inc. have all exposed the darker side of our food supply - complete with chemically injected livestock and genetically engineered food. Chipotle's commercial that debuted during the Grammy awards earlier this year served as a poignant reminder of this very issue. With Willie Nelson covering Coldplay's The Scientist, it depicted a farmer who, after feeding his livestock food full of chemicals, opts to return to simple, organic farming.
Having celiac disease, I've experienced first-hand the connection between food and health. Several months ago, I attended a talk from a local physician on celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and the impacts of food allergies on the various systems in our body. It was very interesting, a little scary, and quite informative. He played the following video of Robyn O'Brien, a mother of four and former food industry analyst who has been on a mission to educate others on the link between food allergies and the food industry, which really brings to light issues in our genetically modified food supply.
So, what can we do about it?
Be informed. I've had to learn a lot more about what goes into my food than I ever knew before. Fewer ingredients that I cannot pronounce is generally better because it's less chance for something that might cause an autoimmune reaction. Being informed about what's in our food is a first step towards making better choices.
When first going gluten free, I inadvertently turned towards more organic options, less processed food, and an overall simpler diet. Now, I make a conscience effort to choose wisely when it comes to food that I feed myself and my family. Am I Whole Foods junkie? Definitely not. I'm a working mom trying to feed a family that is always on-the-go....and I still love a gluten free burger and fries. But even with cost and convenience as a priority, healthful food can and should be a must.
Make little changes to have a big impact. If you haven't already, try cutting out soda. You're waistline, teeth, and blood sugar will thank you for it. Consider buying organic produce. You don't have to buy all organic, but keep in mind those top foods that are the best organic options due to pesticides - even Walmart offers organic produce options. Eat vegetarian for one night a week, or try a new vegetable a week and use it in a recipe. These are just a few examples of small changes you can make starting today that can have a positive impact on your health.
Get involved and get moving. Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama are two champions for getting the nation healthier, through better eating habits and exercise. Jamie's Food Revolution has brought to light the obesity epidemic in this nation, brought on by a diet of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. He is also taking the food industry to task by asking them to produce better food and label that food in an honest way. Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign focuses on keeping kids active, and helping moms, families, schools, and communities get healthier through better food choices. Let's Move is also helping make healthier food accessible and affordable in lower income areas. You can sign up to help support these campaigns right on the Let's Move website or Jamie Oliver Foundation website.
The old adage "you are what you eat" seems to be more true than ever these days...just a little food for thought to start your week.
Tags: celiac disease, Chipotle, chipotle commercial, dairy free, diabetes, Eric Schlosser, fast food, food allergies, Food Inc, Food Revolution, genetically modified food, gladly gluten free, gluten free, gmo, Jamie Oliver, Jamie Oliver foundation, Let's Move, Michael Pollan, Michelle Obama, organic farming, organic produce, robyn o'brien, tedX, willie nelson