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By Cathi DeThomas, CME

Just found a new (to me!) app for my smart phone – a handy little program that allows me to set a goal in terms of weight loss or maintenance, record my consumption of food during each day, enter any exercise I performed and note my subsequent weight loss (or gain).  Losing weight is not a goal for me, but maintaining a healthy body is, and I am delighted that this particular little app is turning out to be such fun, as well as fountain of information on my particular eating habits.

Examples, anyone??  Well, although I may be somewhat of a vegetarian and proponent of organic, fresh foods whenever possible, I still manage to consume a fair amount of JUNK food.  Is eating fresh, chunky salsa and organic white corn tortilla chips for dinner really that healthy?

According to Michael Pollan (author and journalist) in his book, “Food Rules”,  populations that eat the so-called Western diet, with it’s emphasis on processed meats and foods, overload of fats and sugars, and refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar, can enjoy much higher rates of Western diseases like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Conversely, populations that get off the Western diet and eat more traditional diets can lower rates of these same chronic diseases!Many people cite cost as the reason they are not purchasing more healthful foods, but in reality, it does not cost more in actual dollars – the real cost could be in prep time, since most healthy choices are NOT pre-packaged, processed foods, or fast foods either.  However, putting together a fresh salad from a bagged mix, and adding your own grilled chicken breast strips and home-made vinaigrette dressing is truly not that time-consuming, and is probably cheaper than purchasing the fattier, more processed salad from McBurgerBell!  Making a big pot of vegetable or beef soup on a Saturday afternoon with the kids helping out is a much more enjoyable way of educating them to healthy eating, and you have enough left to freeze for a future meal.The true cost of our Western diet can be measured in health care dollars, according to G. A. Colditz in his article “Economic Costs of Obesity and Inactivity”.  He states, “direct costs for obesity defined as body mass index greater than 30, in 1995, total 70 BILLION dollars.”

The cost of eating healthy?  You will look better, feel better AND have lower health care costs in the long run!

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