Optimizing Conditions for Healthy Living
The book is about optimizing the conditions for healthy living so that eating healthy and exercising more is more likely than not. I make the case that by overcoming mindless consumerism, we can set ourselves up to live healthier. Consumerism leads to us to become dependent on hazardous working conditions (largely tied to a desk for the majority of the day), re-engineers the environment to make exercise less necessary, leads us to spend >90% of our time indoors, and transforms workers to focus on profit (and sell addictive products including foods) instead of the product or service they sell. Mindful consumption begins to tackle each of these at its roots.
Along that line of optimizing the conditions to make healthier living more likely, let me suggest some food rules that will help you to make healthy eating more likely. I’m writing this post mostly to benefit our children but the suggestions are equally applicable to adults.
Will Power is Over-Rated
For parents of infants, you have a grand opportunity that I wish I had considered when my kids were just babies. Let me explain. Many of my patients who successfully quit smoking tell me even years after quitting that they continue to have a bit of an urge to smoke (however manageable that urge is). This is different from a patient who never smoked to begin with. Having never smoked, they just don’t crave smoking.
For babies, who have never been exposed to processed foods, eating healthy unprocessed whole foods comes naturally. Only when they taste the addictive power of processed foods, do they develop that desire or craving for it. A child who grew up without every being exposed to processed foods would thus easily be able to to choose an apple over a donut when given the choice.
Food Rules for Infants
So this will sound radical when you first hear this but if your the parent or caregiver of an infant: never expose your child to processed foods: no ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, donuts, desserts, french fries, candy, chocolate, cake, etc… ever! Don’t worry, they will survive just fine. In fact they will thrive. I can tell you that for 99.9% of our time as species we consumed food whole, unprocessed and did just fine. It was only when starvation was a threat that our ancestors suffered health consequences. Unfortunately, this is rare today but only because I don’t think most parents ever consider food from this angle.
Now, given that we do not live in isolation, let me make upholding this rule easier for you. You don’t need to police other parents, schools, friends, and teachers. Eventually, your baby will be exposed to processed foods for as long as you live in this world. Not to worry, its okay if they have a chocolate cake at a friends birthday party. Its not ideal but for the sake of the practical, I suggest you not worry. Since that sort of food is not available in the home, that means they will automatically make good food choices the vast majority of the time. They are also more likely to choose healthier food even when they are not eating at home.
Food Rules for Older Children
Second, not all hope is lost if your children are older. There are still a few ways to optimize your home environment: No sweets, chips, or sodas in the home. This is the rule we have personally implemented in our own home. Admittedly, I was not very popular in the home after doing so. Again, outside of your home if you or your children have a dessert, no big deal. It’s okay if you have a treat once in a while. It becomes a daily habit when we have it at home and then it is a problem.
Taste Bud Rehabilitation
My second point will make this easier for you and for the whole family. I’ll introduce to you a term I like to use at times when I counsel people about nutrition. As soon as you hear the term, it will make good sense to you. I refer to a phenomenon called: taste bud rehabilitation. It is real. It takes about a month. You will lose much of your craving if you can avoid sweets, chips, and other processed foods for a whole month. Much like a smoker, you’ll never fully rid of some degree of craving though again after a month, you will be able to manage that craving just as a former smoker is able to say no to cigarettes. My kids for instance, still consider me a bit out there, but they no longer think I’m evil : )
A Call to Action
Ready to embark on a journey towards a healthier family lifestyle? Start by implementing these food rules and optimizing your home environment. Share your thoughts, experiences, or additional tips (using the social icons). Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for more insightful health and wellness content delivered straight to your inbox. Let’s take the first step together toward a healthier, happier family and society!
BOTTOM LINE: THERE IS A BETTER WAY!
- As John Maynard Keynes said a century ago, people of our time ought to be largely independent of our employers for our income – unfortunately, due to “mindless consumerism”, we are not.
- Mindless consumerism is the underlying reason leading to the rise of chronic disease for 3 major reasons:
- It ties us to dependence on our employers and modern day employment is a health hazard for most (in part due to the sedentary nature of most jobs).
- It has led to environmental changes toxic to our wellbeing:
- (a). We evolved in and are best suited to natural environments and instead we live in increasingly artificial environments.
- (b). Overconsumption has lead us to engineer out the need for meaningful use of our legs for ambulation.
- Finally, it transforms workers to work with blinders on – instead of working for the product or service and receiving money as a side effect, workers focus on making money and the product or service is instead the side effect. The results (with respect to health) is that “food” is no longer food but changed to maximize pleasure and extract profit in spite of the toxicity to our health.
- Based on the science of wellbeing one can derive the philosophy that once basic needs are met, “The best things in life are free” therefore —>
- Most people can live far below their means without sacrificing happiness AND by investing the rest, they can become financially independent of their employers enabling them to be —>
- Happier. Healthier. Wealthier. More engaged. Simply better.