By now you’ve probably read hundreds of articles about the ills of the Standard American Diet (SAD). It seems like everything you read points a finger at fast food companies, refined carbohydrates and high saturated fat. It’s true, the SAD diet has taken a turn for the worst, and the alarming rates of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease are products of our food system.
Beyond these traditional metrics lies an even more frustrating reality – food manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to get you addicted to their products. They do so by investing in laboratories to develop additives that stimulate your taste buds, activate serotonin receptors in your brain, and leave you wanting more. In the US alone, more than 3,000 food additives are present in our food system, which include preservatives, flavorings, colors, and texture-enhancers. These additives are in many packaged products we eat even though modern science is only beginning to uncover what they actually do to our health.
Some of these additives include yellow no. 5, potassium bromate, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), dioxins and organophosphate pesticides. Some of these additives function as endocrine disruptors, and can wreak havoc on your body’s ability to regulate hormone production and clearance, setting the stage for chronic long term conditions like diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, obesity and cancer.
Related: 5 Myths about Diabetes Management
What is Nutritional Bankruptcy?
The combination of addictive food additives and refined products results in a condition that I refer to as “nutritional bankruptcy,” a condition that often precedes chronic diseases like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Nutritional bankruptcy occurs when tissues like the skeletal muscle, liver and brain are hungry for high quality nutrients to burn for energy, but are frequently supplied with low quality refined products devoid of proper nutrition. Chronic depletion of nutrient-dense foods can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, an insatiable appetite, weight gain, and an array of seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Symptoms of Nutritional Bankruptcy
6 Steps To Get You Out of Nutritional Bankruptcy
Step 1: Read the following articles, in this order:
Carbohydrates are NOT killing you, a review of why carbohydrates have been erroneously vilified, and strategies to increase carbohydrate consumption.
5 Foods You Should Eat Everyday, an overview of 5 foods with exceptional nutrient quality, and why you should eat them.
US Foods Chockfull of Ingredients Banned in Other Countries, an overview of food additives present in the US food system that have been banned by other countries.
Step 2: Keep a food log for 4 consecutive days.
Write EVERYTHING down. What did you eat? How much did you eat? At what time did you eat it?
Step 3: Think of food as a fuel source, not as a carnival for your taste buds.
In time, your tastes for highly nutritious foods will change and you will start to crave the foods that are high in nutrients that your body requires, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
Step 4: Identify the refined foods in your diet and ask yourself why they are there.
Replace refined foods with foods from the produce section at the grocery store. Only purchase food with a shelf life of less than 1 week.
In an ideal world your diet would contain zero refined foods. While that may be a lofty goal, reduce your consumption of processed foods by 2 per week. In a short time, your diet will be significantly cleaner.
Step 5: If you are currently taking any supplements, ask yourself why.
There are literally thousands of supplements on the market with high-flying health claims. They range from fiber supplements to multivitamins to antioxidants to probiotics to superfood extracts. Unless you are getting direct positive and tangible benefits, stop taking them, eat more perishable food, and watch what happens.
Related: Dietary Supplement, Vitamin, or Quack
Step 6: Change for 30 days. Then cheat.
Stick to your new eating regimen every day for 30 straight days. On day 31, cheat.
Eat your favorite chocolate cheesecake, cheeseburger, nacho cheese french fries, or pint of ice cream. Notice the feeling you get in the 2-3 hours following the meal. The symptoms of nutritional bankruptcy (above) may return immediately, leaving you lamenting your decision to eat junky food.
If you take these steps, I can assure you that you will learn something very profound about your current dietary habits that you were not aware of before this exercise. By identifying the cause of your nutritional bankruptcy, you can take steps to reverse poor health without having to spend thousands of dollars on expert advice. The process of improving your nutritional health is very empowering that often leads not only to improved metabolic health, but an improved physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social experience.
Your habits are under your control. Always remember that.
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