About one year ago, during a routine check-up, my doctor was explaining to me how I had developed cirrhosis of the liver, and that I needed to change my lifestyle immediately. I told him that I wasn’t a big drinker, so cirrhosis didn’t make much sense. He informed me that I had developed a specific type, called non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, which is brought upon not by drinking alcohol, but by drinking soda, eating potato chips and consuming vast quantities of candy bars.
The conversation that followed had a much more profound impact on me. I asked him how to eat healthy. At the time I felt it was a genuine question – with so many preservatives and chemicals in foods, and with new diet fads emerging every other day that promised instant weight loss, I didn’t know what was healthy and what wasn’t.
He looked me right in the eye and said that he could take someone who was illiterate, put an apple and a candy bar in front of them, and that even they would know which one of the two was the healthier alternative.
After that, I decided to stop kidding myself and started eating healthy. One year later I went back to my doctor and my non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver was gone. I did it by not following any fads and by eating sensible. With such dramatic results, I decided to write about new healthy living tips for the North Wind, the same ones that helped me get my health back on track. In that article, I mentioned cutting out high fructose corn syrup, which is found in most manufactured foods and is a leading contributor to insulin resistance and obesity. And it’s still a statement I stand by today. However, as I quickly learned, there are some who would disagree with my findings.
The Monday after that article was published, I received an approximately 30 page document from the Corn Refiners Association of America, the same group that’s responsible for those commercials you constantly see on TV about the health benefits of high fructose corn syrup. In it was a letter, accompanied by a series of documents with lists of “facts,” all of which let me know that high fructose corn syrup was perfectly healthy and that I was wrong.
It’s this type of propaganda, which comes directly from lobbyists in Washington, that’s pushing this country closer to becoming the land of the obese.
It should be really easy to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a lot of vegetables and exercise. It’s not rocket science. But with a steady stream of propaganda bombarding us from every direction, it can seem like a daunting task.
Take for instance an article recently published on Newsweek’s Web site. The article was a list of the six most ridiculous diet fads of 2008. The list was shocking: from a diet which encouraged people to not exercise but to eat less than 2,000 calories a day, to a diet that consisted of nothing but beef and bacon.
When I read about these diets, I can’t help but think of what my doctor told me, and how anyone with a working brain can see this and clearly see how it isn’t healthy.
Yet everyday, people jump on the bandwagon, cutting out carbs and fat, all the while cutting out the essential nutrients your body needs. Not one of these diets encouraged any time at the gym.
The problem is that we spend our lives sitting in front of our T.V.s, watching real housewives yell at each other or Paris Hilton getting a new BFF. It is when we zone out on our couches that we’re fed propaganda and tricked with marketing that uses flashy colors instead of scientifically proven facts. And most of the time people don’t even realize that they’re being fed lies. People honestly believe that they can get away with eating low-fat Oreos before downing a greasy burger that has light mayo on it. But there’s nothing healthy about Whoppers or Oreos, even if you smother them in veggies or make them 100 calories.
It’s only a matter of time before the number of obese Americans crosses the 50 percent mark. It’s a deadly trend, but it’s one that can easily be turned around. Don’t listen to commercials to tell you what’s healthy, don’t run to every new diet craze that sweeps through Hollywood. Do what my doctor told me to do – lay off the fatty snacks and exercise. It’s that simple.