It’s your fault you’re fat, “it shouldn’t be so hard to get them to run around and play, right?… It’s about how active our kids are” (Michelle Obama). For years, people have been told that it is their fault if they cannot lose weight, and that consistent exercise is the key to effective weight loss. While fifty years ago, exercise may have been able to purge a person’s system of sugar with some success, today, it is nearly impossible for the average person to cleanse their bodies of all the sugar that they consume. Although exercise is important for building muscle and enhancing one’s endurance, the only true way to combat the obesity epidemic the United States is through a dramatic change in everyone’s diet.
Have you ever noticed how a sip of Diet Coke provides one of the most satisfying feelings? This is because the combination of aspartame and caffeine in diet soda is extremely addictive (Geib, “Aspartame Withdrawal and Side Effects Exlpained”). By altering brain chemistry and triggering the brain’s reward centers, diet soda and its addictive chemical, aspartame, trick the body into feeling energized and recharged from consumption of the drink (Group, “Why Is Diet Soda Addictive?”). Just like a heroin addict gets relief from an injection of heroin, Diet Coke gives a similar relief due to the same physical addiction it causes in you. By eliminating this beverage from one’s diet, an individual can instantly improve his or her health and eradicate harmful toxins such as aspartame from their system.
This new generation is among the first to have grown up consuming harmful chemicals and high doses of sugar. People have neglected to link this truth with the fact that this is also the first generation expected to lead shorter lives than their parents. How is it that in an era of advancements in technology and medicine, we are not expected to outlive our parents? The answer is simple: it is because we are poisoning ourselves in ways that our parents never did when they were our age. Because of this, we have compromised our health and predisposed ourselves to a number of degenerative conditions.
Today, the average American consumes twenty-two teaspoons of sugar a day, and the sugar industry is profiting from the proliferation of obesity in the United States as a result of this consumption (Walton, “How Much Sugar Are Americans Eating?”). The media depicts certain products as being “healthier” because they contain no fat and no sugar.
However, in reality, their constitution is far worse than the products that do contain the sugar. In the United States, there are 600,000 unique food items, and 80% of them have added sugar (Patterson, “80 Percent of Foods in America”). The products that do not contain added sugar have some form of chemicals, such as aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and many others which did not exist fifty years ago. These products are largely unregulated by the FDA and are known to cause serious health issues that include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and even learning/memory disabilities. The FDA, USDA, and many other government agencies who are supposed to have your health in mind do not actually care what you are eating as long as they are profiting from your consumption patterns and behaviors.
In the documentary film Fed Up, the point was made that if a foreign nation was poisoning our citizens, we would defend ourselves. So why are we allowing our own government to poison us? The answer must rest somewhere in the $60 billion citizens spend each year on diet and weight loss products.
So what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic? John L. Jackson suggests that, “You have to develop a healthy relationship with food” (Jackson). People need to measure the value of food items based on their nutritional content and the purpose they serve in healing and strengthening the body, “Work and focus on believing in yourself and not listening to that voice inside that’s constantly telling you that you can’t” (John L Jackson). It is also imperative that people cut sugar from their diet immediately. In a supermarket, go straight to the produce sections and avoid anything in between. While natural sugars like fruits still suffice for a healthy diet, the real enemies are processed sugars and the chemicals found in additives.
Over the years, many people’s palates have grown to rely upon the excessively sweet or salty foods they have consumed to satisfy their appetites. After training one’s brain and one’s body to crave healthier items, foods such as fruits and vegetables will naturally satisfy the appetite in a way that is similar to sugary and high-processed foods. However, these natural foods will do so without the threat of withdrawals or system crashes that so often result from high sugar intake. A good way to judge the value of a food item is to determine whether it was artificially produced, and if this is the case, one should avoid it altogether knowing that it likely contains harmful toxins and chemicals which are poisonous to their system.
The tobacco industry is a prime example of the fact that, with persistence, we can collectively combat the epidemic of addiction. The tobacco industry lied for years about the side effects of smoking. However, with the revelation of cigarette smoking’s harmful effects on people’s physical health and the increase in resources that educate people about those negative effects, there has been a dramatic turnaround. In 2016, we have seen the lowest number of smokers in the world than ever before. The same goes for the sugar industry: as soon as they stop profiting off Americans poor diet choices, it will have no choice but to stop producing harmful products. Everyone has the ability to reverse the misfortune brought on by this epidemic, and this shift begins with each individual’s conscious choice to be healthy.
Originally published on HuffPost.
Works CitedFood IncFed UpHungry For ChangeJohn L JacksonGeib, Aurora. “Aspartame Withdrawal and Side Effects Explained — Here’s How to Protect Yourself.” NaturalNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.Group, Edward. “Why Is Diet Soda Addictive?” Dr Groups Natural Health Organic Living Blog. N.p., 03 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 June 2016.Walton, Alice. “How Much Sugar Are Americans Eating?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.Patterson, Susan. “80 Percent of Foods in America May Be Killing You Because of One Ingredient.” The Alternative Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2016.