My husband and I have traveled all over the United States, Mexico and Canada and I am here to tell you that the American diet is troubling. Our supermarkets have more variety and selection of food products than anywhere else I have visited. Just walk down the cereal aisle in your local supermarket and you will see what I mean. Yet, we still gorge ourselves on unhealthy foods. Why?
I tell my kids all the time: Don't put more on your plate than you plan on eating because it is such a sin to waste food. (OK, I am first generation in the United States, and I grew up poor; we never wasted food.) My kids are wonderful, caring and compassionate individuals, but it is difficult for them to embrace a concept that is so foreign (no pun intended) to them. They have never had to wonder where their next meal was going to come from, let alone having fresh running water and a clean warm bed to sleep in.
But sadly, the facts don't lie about our American Diet habits and our penchant for unhealthy foods:
- When you have a two-paycheck family that can barely make ends meet, one of the first things to go is healthier food choices like produce, fresh cuts of meat, poultry and fish, dairy and whole grains.
- When the average employee works nine hours a day and commutes approximately two hours round-trip per day, the last thing he or she wants to do is cook dinner.
- In some regions there is a lack of availability or it is too expensive to eat healthy.
- We are always on the move and so our food has to be as well. I don't see any economic problems at the local fast-food restaurant. As a matter of fact, it is cheaper to feed a family off the $1.00 menu than it is to purchase, prepare and serve the healthier equivalent at home.
- It is difficult to please everyone, especially when it comes to vegetables. Frankly, after a while you get real tired of hearing the complaining.
- Who wants to clean the kitchen after working all day, preparing, cooking and serving dinner?
- Addiction to processed and fried foods.
- With too many afterschool extracurricular activities, we just can't seem to get the entire family together for dinner.
- Fatigue, stress, exhaustion-and not enough hours in the day.
- It is so much easier to open up a can, place a prepackaged meal in the microwave or bring in fast food.
So although Americans don't eat as well as they should, the facts are we do eat better than most and have leftovers to prove it. But there's always room for improvement.