What has to happen to make healthier eating easier and more accessible to the average person? What would it take to get those options into people’s hands as quickly and affordably? Is it possible to make changes significant enough that healthy food becomes the norm?

This afternoon I had a chat with a new acquaintance I’ve known for just a few weeks. Half way into our conversation, when the topic of food and health came up, he told me that three years ago he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

I was really surprised to hear this, because I wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at him. There’s a bit of a stomach paunch there, but nothing drastic. And he seemed to be fairly active. So of course my curious mind wanted more info and forced me to ask a lot of questions.

He told me that at first he tried to deal with his diabetes through lifestyle changes. He went to a nutrition class designed for diabetics and learned a bit about dealing with carbs, especially refined carbs. The advice he got from the teacher was to ignore everything else on the nutrition panel except the carb count. Not the best idea, but you can see where the teacher was coming from.

After using that approach for a while, he resorted to taking medication because he couldn’t quite manage his blood sugar well enough by diet alone. There was a small desire, but no real support system or easy access to better food. The information he was taught was not empowering at all. It was just self-imposed, unenjoyable restrictions. Who wants to eat low carb bread?

After this conversation, he went to lunch over at Wendy’s. Told me later that it’s just so convenient and asked, “What else is there that’s just as fast and cheap?”

So I’ve spent the rest of the day wondering, how do we really help the average person out there who has no real interest in food? They’re not going to read food blogs, or nutrition books. They’ll continue to do what most everyone else is doing, because that’s all they know.

This guy had a desire at the beginning, but when healthy options are outnumbered 1000 to 1, what is he to do? For that average person with a lot on his or her mind, and none of it to do with food, it’s just easier to take a pill.

What has to happen to make healthier eating easier and more accessible to the average person? What would it take to get those options into people’s hands as quickly and affordably? Is it possible to make changes significant enough that healthy food becomes the norm? Can education be altered so that the average person knows what trans fat is, or how rough sugar is on the body? Or that dieting will never work?

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Ponderings Inspired by My Diabetic Friend

  1. Those are all very good questions that I ask all the time.

    I’ve made quite a few changes in my dietary habits and it hurts me to see my family watch, but not join me. I cleaned out the pantry and threw out all items containing MSG (and its various derivatives) and high fructose corn syrup. Believe me, my pantry was almost bare.

    I’m still getting complaints about not having certain items, but I ignore them. I’ve managed to find MSG and HFC free substitutes. That required a lot of reading in the grocery/health food store.

    Because I’m committed to health, I’m willing to make these sacrifices. However, our world is set up to make it easy to become fat and unhealthy. I’m facing the very same questions that you asked in your post. If I don’t prepare all of the food for my family, they would be perfectly willing to take a run to the local fast food chain.

    The average household buys into the marketing hype and fast food commercials. Your friend with diabetes tried, but wasn’t quite committed enough to dig deeper to find the right solution. We’re a society of convenience.

    I don’t blame your friend for giving up because the deck is stacked against him and the rest of the people in need of help. It’s frustrating and heart breaking.

    The road to healthy eating isn’t an easy one to find (too many commercials and media roadblocks blocking the entrance). And, once you find it, it’s not always the easiest road to navigate. However, if you can get beyond the initial bumps and bruises (like discovering your favorite seasoning is dripping in MSG), it gets a little easier. The trick is guiding folks to the road and holding their hands through the first few miles on the journey.

    But… and this is a big but. You can’t guide a person on a road they truly don’t want to be on. 🙁

    Sorry for being so long-winded, but your post struck a chord with me.

    1. Hey Felicia. That wasn’t long winded at all; concise and thoughtful.

      I agree with you – the deck certainly isn’t in the favor of those wanting to eat healthier. It really does take being sufficiently motivated to dig in and do the research, then put that knowledge into practice. It’s asking a lot from people who have a million other concerns on their mind that don’t include food and health.

      It’s hard to see how the masses will be helped when there are such powerful forces in play that don’t want anything to change. Like you said, we start with what we control, right? Ourselves, our own pantry, and those around us who are willing to be guided.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. I think first we just keep setting the example that we set. Sooner or later bits and pieces sink in and people begin to make changes. We also need to be heard when we talk about the food corps and how they don’t care that they are killing people slowly with all their concocted foods. My anger about that makes eating the right things much easier!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *