Two Michaels: Pollen & Moss on Food in America

Two Michaels, two very interesting interviews, and some thoughts from yours truly. Watch when you have time. I will point out my favorite piece of each video until you are able to watch these. You’re welcome.

“Whoever is president after Obamacare is in place, and the government is on the hook for a lot more of our healthcare costs, will discover that the best way to reduce the amount of money we are spending on healthcare (currently in the 3.5 trillion range) is through DIET. About 75% of these costs treat PREVENTABLE CHRONIC DISEASES, most of which are LINKED TO DIET. The best way TO TAKE CONTROL OF COSTS is to CHANGE THE WAY WE EAT. The cost of obesity is in the hundreds of billions, as is type 2 diabetes, these are huge numbers, and it is ALL PREVENTABLE; it is ALL A MATTER OF THE FOOD SYSTEM. We have a government who is subsidizing both sides in the war on obesity and type 2 diabetes. We are subsidizing the worst possible foods in the marketplace, and then we are subsidizing the healthcare costs to deal with that problem.” – Michael Pollen Interview (starts around minute 6)

*Note: this interview was published in 2013, so the numbers/statistics have changed, but sadly they have only gotten higher/worse. I updated the cost of healthcare.

My thoughts: Sorry for all of the uppercase text, but I found it exciting and satisfying to hear him speak about how most of this essentially relies upon food and diet. Sounds so simple, but unfortunately it is complex. Lack of awareness, access, and availability (the 3 As) make it quite challenging to eat right. To add, our environment, our psychology, and our DNA all play a role in the complexity of it all. If eating properly is one solution, the bigger problem is changing people’s dietary behaviors. We’ve got to get smarter and more educated on what to eat, and what to eat for each of our individual bodies and selves. Rest assured that I (as well as many others) am working on tackling that problem, but it is going to take some time. Bear with me.

“Starting in the 80s it became acceptable, socially acceptable to eat anything, anywhere, anytime…business meeting, walking down the street, subways, buses, etc. This coincided with the obesity epidemic. I think what it led to is mindless eating. Hand to mouth, not paying attention. Opposite of what my mom encouraged me to do… “Michael chew your food, slow down.” There is science behind that because it takes time for your brain to catch up with your chewing, and with your stomach. We need to go back to mindful eating and paying more attention; this will help people take control of what they eat.” – Michael Moss interview (starts around minute 23)

My thoughts: It truly has become socially acceptable to eat whatever, whenever. And, I find it interesting that it coincides with the onset of the obesity epidemic. Notice how fast-paced, demanding, and competitive our work and life have become. How many times have you found yourself doing way more than you think is humanely possible? Just because it is “possible” doesn’t mean it is something we as humans should be doing. Hence the increasing rates of such things as stress, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and burnout. We created a way of working and living that make it socially unacceptable to use eating or “mindful eating” as a valid reason or excuse for not getting work done. Next time you write out your to-do list, make sure to add “eat” to the list, allocate time for it, and prioritize it. Let’s make mindful eating a socially acceptable norm again.

Speaking of social norms, I leave you with something I was thinking about the other day.

Why do people take action after hearing or seeing someone else take action? Often, I will do or say something, but others seem skeptical or unsure until another person says or does something similar. Well, it has to do with social norms. Social psychologists have found that the greatest predictor of someone copying a behavior is seeing someone else do it (i.e., Monkey See, Monkey Do). The same holds true for what we hear. If we hear one person say something, and then another person, it increases the likelihood that we will believe and act on what we heard.

Now, as multiple people start to say or do the same thing, a ripple effect occurs. The not so believable idea or action becomes logical, acceptable, and common practice. In other words, it becomes a social norm that more and more people consciously or unconsciously want and start to do. Maybe this is why every time I stand up in the office or eat something healthy, I quickly see others pick up on those behaviors, and shortly thereafter more people start to follow suite.

I think we can all be role models when it comes to healthy habits. Think about something healthy you like to do (e.g., walking meetings, snacking on veggies or herbal tea in the afternoon, stepping outside to breathe or stretch for a few minutes, etc.), do it around others, and see what happens…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the impact you can have.

And I’m out,
Peace sign



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