Why is the American diet so unhealthy?

Now that 1 in every 3 American kids are classified as obese, the United States Government has stepped in to create healthy eating initiatives in American Schools. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 makes sure that school age children are eating healthy foods while at school, and social activists keep their fingers crossed that such behavior becomes habitual whilst at home on the weekends or during the summer.

With so much concern about why so many people are suffering from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, it’s only natural that a slew of culprits will be established as a result of the debate. Why is the American diet so unhealthy?

Food deserts are typically to blame for why people in poor and modest-income areas are so prone to obesity. Activists claim that access to cheap, subsidized unhealthy foods are more available so that’s what ends up becoming their palate.

Other healthy food activists contend that time is of the essence, and not having enough of it makes us bad food. Since we are single parents and/or working two jobs, there’s nobody home to cook the meals anymore. We are becoming more inclined to eat worse because we do not have the time to eat good.

The problem is, when these theories are put up to actual investigation, they seem to be riddled with holes. People emotionally cling to these excuses, but when the facts are checked, it doesn’t hold up. America has some of the most diverse food selections available in the world at very affordable costs, yet we are among western countries who are increasingly becoming obese.

Availability to food doesn’t guarantee healthy eating. In fact, studies show that proximity to healthy, cost effective foods rarely change the diet people have already become accustomed to. Eating habits do not improve just because the food is closer, easier to get, and more affordable. There’s also evidence to show that people with very little time who are committed to eating healthy still find them time.

So if all of these theories have been debunked, what is the real reason people have such a bad diet?

Junk food is literally a drug.

Food addiction” as it is coined is a real thing. Studies show that when consuming highly processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt, there are “feel good” brain chemicals being released into the blood.

These are natural opiates. Serotonin, dopamine, and endorphines are released as tasty, delicious, artery-clogging food is consumed. There are even physical withdrawal symptoms as well as depression and anxiety that accompanies a lack of these foods. In short, you are neurochemically driven to crave these foods.

Eating fresh whole foods like vegetables and fruits simply cannot produce the euphoria that stuffing your face with fast food can. The healthy food has always been there, it’s always available…people just don’t want it. As bizarre as it sounds, the real reason our diets are so unhealthy is because we like bad food. Shocking, no?

Now, me personally, I do enjoy cooking my own food as opposed to fast food. I like eating healthy for the most part, but I will confess that it has taken me many, many years of scrupulous resistance to be able to avoid bad food. Alas, I still falter and give in to the devil temptation of junk food at times.

Most Americans will attempt to make excuses about why they are out of shape because we live in a culture where it’s always ok to blame somebody else. While there are some exceptions to the rule, most of us have ourselves to blame for being out of shape.

We know deep down that it’s because leisure and tasty food is what we want while intense exercising and healthy eating requires an extremely conscious effort, so we quickly abandon it. I know it sounds crass, but nevertheless its true.

Really, there’s no shame in denying this. There’s no shame in admitting that you like chowing down on will-power destroying junk food. We’re all human, it’s what we do. We like to feel good and we like to satisfy our senses. Our entire civilization was built upon pleasing our senses, so it should come to no surprise that we are a nation of food lovers. We’re just not happy with the consequences of negative health, so we deflect and blame.

If you do really want to get healthier, then the first step is to remove the fact that you are incapable of doing so by saying it is someone else’s fault. If you believe all of the myths about why people have such bad diets, then you’re already doomed because by their logic you have no control. You do have a measure of control, however.

Rest assured, you don’t have to wait for the revolution to get healthy. Yeah, it’s a pain in the ass. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Second step is to slowly ween yourself off of a highly processed food diet.