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Pollan’s introduction, “what should we eat for dinner?” has never come at a better time. The question of what to consume has elicited more questions than answers and many opinions than there are health experts have been suggested. This essay focuses on what defines an American diet and solutions that can mitigate the status quo. This paradigm shift is in tandem with the main concern for the contemporary American society.
Lack of nutritional knowledge, such as calories, cholesterol, fats and labels on food , is one factor that influences the American diet. A number of parents’ reasoning is swept away by the marketing gimmick that advertisers put on various food products. As a result, products with such labels as no cholesterol, light and natural mislead them a great deal. Parents purchasing potato chips and thinking that it is all-natural, cholesterol free and healthy is therefore a commonplace in the American food industry. Consumption of such fast foods raises the fat and caloric intake of children and predisposes them to obesity (Keith, 2000).
While discussing the industrial food chain, Pollan observes that the bulk of various food products come from corn which could then be eaten directly or processed into products such as ethanol and high-fructose corn syrup. Based on his findings at the George Naylor’s Iowa farm, the corn has been processed and modified into many other products that constitute the American diet. This has led to the evolution of junk foods such us alcoholic beverages and fast foods hence contributing a larger percentage of calories in a typical American diet. Excess calories results into non communicable diseases like obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in humans. Indeed, what we eat determines what we become.
Americans and the world at large live in a century that is on top gear. A day in an American citizen is typified by a lot of activities that allows no time for buying whole foods and preparing these up to the point where it is served on a table in readiness for consumption. As a result, consumption of fast foods has gained significant grounds more than ever before. Similarly, scarcity of time has forced many to use vehicles. Therefore, consumption of fast foods and dependency on vehicles prove to be a disaster in the making.
Moreover, these aforementioned choices have led to a diet that is compromised in phytochemicals and fiber that are found in plants and fruits. Since poor diet can lead to lethal diseases like cancer, coronary heart diseases, diabetes mellitus and conditions like stroke, a behavioral change is required to reverse this trend.
To be able to remedy the situation at hand, a load of factors need to be taken into account to ensure healthy feeding. The American diet needs to incorporate more vegetables that are prepared in an attractive and delicious manner since a lack of proper preparation repels most of them (Amoroso, 2006). A recommendation in Mypyramid Food Guide is that people should consume their foods right from the farms as explored by Pollan under the pastoral food chain. This is due to the fact that in this form, their nutrient density is high (Brown, 2010).
Secondly, Americans should eliminate industrial foods from their diet as these kinds of foodstuff highly predispose them to the cancer of the intestines and diabetes. They also lack in both soluble and insoluble fiber which exercises the intestinal canal and further enhance absorption of cholesterol. Bearing in mind that industrial foods are quickly digested, they take a lower transit time and cause spikes in the blood sugar levels as opposed to fibrous foods which are sustainable. Worse still, the food processing industries compromise some nutrients since their manufacturing chemicals interfere with their bioavailability.
Physical exercise is not a matter of negotiation for the Americans. One needs to engage in physical activities so as to burn some extra calories and restore the caloric equilibrium in the body. Considering that many Americans want to improve their diets, the sentiment echoed by majority is how food can boost their health status. Instead of using a personal car all the time, it is advisable to walk to work or school or park some distance away and to walk the rest of the distance.
An interview with a friend revealed how wanting the diet of an American could be. In brief, his breakfast consisted of 4 loaves of white bread spread with margarine, a meat pie, whole milk and some cereals; at break time, he had a soda and some cakes; during lunch, he ate fried sweet potatoes, chicken and a soda. A simple analogy of these foods shows that it is high in fats, cholesterol, and calories but little in roughages (vegetables) and fruits. However, he claimed he really needs to cut some weight. This is not an isolated case as many in America identify with those sentiments. In another interview with American ladies, a revelation that most Americans never cared where their food came from came to picture.
Some factors that affect the quality and choice of foods today are policies on food handling, transportation, processing and marketing; religious restrictions; cultural practices and an informed mind. In conclusion, whether food goes through the industrial, pastoral and personal food chains, consumption of a variety is essential for optimum benefits. For instance, carbohydrates should come from rice, maize and other cereals.