Saturday, August 9, 2008

Excessive Wastes and Excessive Waists

The United States is an incredible country--priding itself on the fact that its citizens are well taken care of. Sure, many of us may have reason to whine and complain about the intricacies of our daily lives, but overall, we are pampered in a way that a great majority of people in other countries will not ever have the luxury of experiencing.

It is well known that America is a country built upon globalization--promoting endless consumerism, and providing its citizens with a surplus of "in the moment" conveniences--many of which are unnecessarily wasteful. We are also a country that is continuously expanding--with concrete buildings consuming vanishing wilderness as effortless as an artist spreads paint across canvas. Yet, even though we are "gobbling up" our green lands at an alarming rate, it seems we cannot stop. For, we do this in the name of "creature comforts" and we do this to make way for food!

In my eyes, the American public is spoiled. We can drive to any nearby destination and find that which we seek to fill our grumbling bellies. Restaurants, grocery stores, and fast food chains are located on every street corner and there are an overwhelming number of options for us as consumers of food. For example, within a 1/2 mile radius of my own home, there are over 30 culinary establishments--which means that I could eat out for an entire month and not repeat a single dining experience.

What's more, is that here in America we have developed eating habits that aren't so great--we eat while driving, while watching TV, and we eat while we are working. We also use food for a variety of purposes other than its nutritional value. For example, we eat when we are celebrating, we eat when we are sad or bored, and we eat just because we are used to a schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner time.

Most of us have become so used to the conveniences of "having our cake and eating it too” that our comfortable lifestyles are not the only thing developing--it is quite evident that our waste sizes are expanding too. Current research has found that more than 50% of Americans are overweight and 22% are obese, even though weight-loss products and services are a $34 billion-a-year industry. There are more fad diets existing in this country than there are certain species of endangered animals.

So what causes one to become overweight and/or obese?

According to the Obesity In America website, "weight gain and obesity are caused by consuming more calories than the body needs – most commonly by eating a diet high in fat and calories, being sedentary or both." Although, there are other factors that can be taken into consideration such as genetics, environment, culture, and hormonal imbalances, most cases of weight gain are simply caused by the fact that the body is taking in more calories than it expends--and in this country, it is super easy for a person to devour a large number of calories.

For example: a single meal at McDonald’s can equal or exceed the amount of calories a person actually needs for an entire 24 hour period. Since calories are the so-called equivalent of energy, and our bodies only need a certain amount each day (recommended daily allowance) for us to be productive, any excessive calories consumed have nothing else to do, but turn into fat.

As unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles continue over time, weight gain manifests itself. Unfortunately, being overweight is not only detrimental to one's self-esteem, it has also been linked with greater risk of certain illnesses--including heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

So what is a concerned person to do? Why, make some self-loving, healthy, life changing habits such as exercising regularly and consuming a plant-based diet.

The United States Department of Agriculture shows the many benefits of eating a plant-based diet which includes an abundance of vegetables, fruits and other "green" foods--all of which show evidence of protecting against:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Birth defects
  • Cataracts
  • Cancers
A plant-based diet can also contribute significantly to reducing obesity. Thus, not only is this type of diet good for your waist size, it is also good for the planet because it reduces the amount of excessive waste which comes with highly processed and heavily packaged foods. Plus, it provides us with the proper nutrients, vitamins and other beneficial factors that our bodies truly need.

What's more is that there are numerous studies and a wide variety of evidence proving that a fresh, lively, plant-based diet's benefits far exceed those of a highly processed, meat-based diet. So why not start today and make a change for the better--incorporate lots of fresh fruits and veggies into into your lifestyle--which will be beneficial for both you and the planet!