Friday, January 27, 2012

Whatever Happened To Self-Control?


Our society has gotten into the ridiculous habit of blaming.  We’re fond of blaming someone or something for the bad things that happen.  There are many instances where the blame is justified but there are also times when we should really be looking to ourselves for the responsibility.

Today I want to discuss blame and responsibility. I am not talking about genetic pre-disposition to type 2 diabetes.  I want to talk about poor health and who is to blame.  With all of the uproar and outrage over the “type 2 diabetes epidemic” I’m forever reading an article about how the food industry is to blame for a lot of what has happened.  It is true that fast food restaurants tend to serve up less healthy, too large meals.  Upsizing has become a standard. “More for your money” is a come-on to eat even more.  Grocery stores excel at marketing the less healthy foods in a way that makes it so much easier for us to consume the wrong things.  Buy more and save is the norm. So whose fault is it: the marketers and salesmen or the people who fall into the trap?  I vote for the people and here’s why:  No one, and I mean NO ONE, has forced us to eat the way we do.  The blame falls on our shoulders alone.

Whatever happened to self-control?

Would super sizing still be around if we didn’t buy into it?  No.  Would “bloomin onions” and never-ending pasta bowls exist if we didn’t buy them?  No.  We have the power but we choose not to use it.  Why is that?

Addiction.  Food addictions are real.  I’m fairly certain that there have been studies done that prove fat and sugar are addicting.  I’m too lazy to research that today but I know in my heart of hearts that it’s true.  Can we blame the restaurants and food producers for playing up to our addictions?  No.  It would be nice if they helped us but they are out to make money.  That is their bottom line and they don’t really care about our bottoms or our pancrei or our hearts or anything other than our wallets.  They really don’t.  

Whatever happened to self-control?  

Parents are in charge of what their children eat.  I know first-hand that it’s easier, and often cheaper, to cook convenient, packaged foods.  I know that parents are tired at the end of the day and take-out is so appealing.  It’s up to the parents to teach their children how to eat in a healthy manner.  It’s up to the parents to make the children understand what is right and what is wrong in all aspects of their lives.  It is NOT the fault of McDonalds or Pizza Hut or KFC for luring the children in with toys and yummy foods.  It’s not the fault of the grocery stores for placing sugary cereals at children’s eye level.  It is our responsibility to make smart choices for ourselves and our families.  I do think that it’s imperative that school lunch programs offer only healthy options for the children they serve.  It would help if they were able to do that in a cost-effective manner.

My health has improved immensely since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve read so many comments from fellow PWD who say the same thing.  Diabetes has forced us to rethink how we eat.  It has forced us to change our habits.  It isn’t easy but we do it.  I certainly have a long way to go myself and I doubt that there are many out there who have completely avoided “bad foods” but we are conscious of it all the time.  We try because it is so important. 

What can restaurants and food producers do to help?  Restaurants can be up front about the nutritional content of their meals.  They can provide us with the needed information so we can make informed choices.  PWD who are on insulin need to know how many carbs are in a meal before they consume it.  That’s not easy at a restaurant, I’m sure.  Those of us who are trying to lose weight need to know fat content etc.  Heart patients who need to control the amount of sodium they consume would benefit from that information on a menu. If the restaurants would do that for us it would help us to make healthier choices.  Some restaurants are doing that now but most are not.  Why? If they did we might not be so anxious to eat their food.  Gosh, if that happened they might actually be forced to make some changes to their menu to make it healthier!  We really do have the power but it will only make a difference if lots of people make the effort to insist on change.  Food producers could make it easier for us to eat a healthier diet that we can actually afford.  Don't only give the bargains to those who buy mass quantities.  Give us a break when we buy smaller portions.  Don't force us to buy a vat of something in order to afford it.  Don't entice us with more for less.  Give us a fair price for a reasonable serving.

I’m not advocating for some massive protest.  I’m only advocating that each of us as individuals make the right choices for ourselves.  Stop blaming someone else and take ownership of your health.  It isn’t easy.  It isn’t always cheap.  It is worth it 8 ways from Sunday.  Remember, the McDonalds Corporation didn’t cause you to gain weight; eating at McDonalds too often certainly didn’t help.  You choose where and what you eat.  You can’t blame that on anyone but yourself.

I grew up in a time where we saw cigarette ads on television.  The Marlboro Man.  Steve and Edie hawking cigars.  They were everywhere and in our face.  TV shows showed the characters constantly lighting up.  Just watch an episode of Dragnet from the 50’s and see how many scenes show someone smoking.  It was everywhere and it was cool.  (Not that I think Dragnet was cool.) Then it was determined that smoking was bad for our health.  It was determined that smoking causes cancer.  The government then managed to ban tobacco commercials from the airwaves.  Those who are addicted to tobacco have a tough road.  They were encouraged to smoke and then left to their own devices to figure out how to quit.

Many of us learn at an early age how to eat badly and it can sometimes take a lifetime to change that habit.  Commercials and restaurants do entice us to eat less healthy foods.  Now it has been determined that poor diet, excessive weight and lack of exercise can contribute to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  I don’t think we should hold our collective breath waiting for the government to ban commercials for food.  It is up to us to make the right decisions.  It is up to us to take control of our health.  We can’t blame anyone else.  Show some self-control.

5 comments:

  1. I disagree, especially when the powers that be keep telling people with diabetes to eat low-fat and high carb. Firstly, since when did fat ever raise blood glucose other than a smidgin? Secondly almost all of the standard 'healthy for diabetes' advice is slowly and surely being debunked. And the people who do have the power shove statins down our throats like there's no tomorrow. No study supports them preventing a first hear attack! I suspect the problem is more one of some people not actually knowing what's healthy and what's not. Ah, yes, let's take all the fat out of school canteens, but leave all the high carb in there? That won't do a thing to stop kids gaining weight if they're predisposed to diabetes. I'm afraid that the fast food chains DO have a responsibly to make their food more expensive and less darn tasty!

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    1. I appreciate your point of view, Anonymous, but I think you missed my point. First of all, I'm not touting any particular diet. I'm not saying that eating too much fat is causing high bg. I'm saying that we need to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. Each PWD is different and there are numerous ways to fight the disease through diet. Second, I can't speak to the statins issue since my doctor doesn't shove them down my throat. I do know that they are helping to keep my husband healthier. Third, I will agree that lack of education about what is healthy is a big problem, something I hope to work on this year. Fourth, I never said a word about removing fat and adding carbs to school lunches. I said that I feel that only healthy options should be provided. High carb is definitely not healthy. Moderation in all things. And lastly, it is not the fast food chains' responsibility to make their food healthier. It is NOT! The whole point of my post is to point out that it is OUR responsibility to eat a healthy diet. It is OUR responsibility to take care of ourselves. No one is forcing us to eat poorly. I'm sorry if my writing is so poor as to cause you to completely miss my point.

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  2. Great post Kate!! I can't tell you how many times I have gone into Subway, order 6" sandwiches for myself and my daughter and have them say "but you can get a foot long for $5.00". To which I reply, "we'll just take the 6", we don't need a foot long sandwich". I have only had diabetes for 1 year, I have struggled with weight my whole life, and it truly is about choices, choices we make. Yes, I can choose to eat higher fat and carb meals, but then I have to be prepared to deal with the consequences, either weight gain or higher blood sugars. It's my choice and no one elses.

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    1. Thanks Grammie, good to know my point was taken. Your Subway analogy is spot-on! I'm with you on the life-long struggle with weight. We will prevail!!

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  3. I agree with you 100% - in fact, I was just having this very conversation with my husband yesterday!! What I eat is my choice, and making better choices is my responsibility. If I make poor food choices, it's not anybody's fault but my own. I would love for all restaurants to provide some nutritional info on their menus - at the very least calorie counts would help (and carb counts would help me dose my insulin). But regardless, what I eat is up to me and me alone!!

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