Side Orders and Obesity

“Food is the most widely abused drug, and exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant” ~ Bill Phillips

I'm fascinated with 'Side Orders' in the small towns I'm cycling through. Surprisingly (to me at least!), fruit or vegetables are never on the breakfast side order menu. It's unbelievable. I understand that many of these restaurants in small towns struggle to survive. So, purchasing fruit that won't sell is not only a financial risk, but a waste of food. However, if fruit isn't offered, people don't have an option to eat it. So, what's the answer?? Can our government subsidize fruits and vegetables so at least it is accessible and maybe people will start to eat it? Or, can pilot grants be available in these towns to see if it'll work? If offered, would people choose it? Have they tried that? I know education would need to be included with the additional side order items to encourage people to select it, but it's worth a try, isn't it? Take a peek of some of the side order options at recent restaurants below.

Obesity prevention is on my mind often as a result of trying to raise $25,000 for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization working to eliminate childhood obesity. They work in and out of schools all over the country targeting youth. The 115+ staff around the US work diligently to help communities and schools support physical activity and healthy eating. I just got to 50% fundraising efforts, which means more effective programs, policies and practices will be put in place as a result of the $12,000+ I've raised. 

Obesity was recently declared by the American Medical Association as a disease. I think many people assume that being overweight or obese is based on a person's decisions only. This is a myth. It's not just about personal control. There are so many variables. I travel for work almost 50%. I know how difficult it can be to maintain my weight while on the road. I'm tired, my schedule and sleep is disrupted (affects metabolism), access to nutrient-rich foods in airports is rare, although improving. Heredity plays a role, as does your environment. Many of the small towns I ride through may be considered food deserts by some. A food desert is an area with little or no access to healthy foods, and in many cases, only fast food or service station options exist. Parents - model eating fruits and vegetables in front of your kids. Even if they don't try it, or like it... introduce these foods to them over and over. Model eating it, cook it (and have them help), show pictures of it. 

And, let's talk about physical activity. Again, with 50% travel, I know how difficult it can be to stay active. I sometimes think how easy those of you who don't travel have it... set schedule, sleeping in the same bed, access to an area you know well. Ok, I don't have kids, but you can make physical activity part of your routine. Park farther away at the supermarket to get more steps in. Find something you enjoy. There are hundreds of physical activity options. Many at low or no cost. Again- model it for your kids. They need to see you in workout gear. They need to see you sweaty. Make it a part of your routine... while working, while on vacation. I always think how fortunate I am with my family. Even now, when we are all in Florida together, we wake up and everyone figures out what they will do for exercise that day. It's routine. We do it because it feels good, we do things we enjoy (together) and we want to have many healthy, quality years enjoying each other's company. 

“The food you eat can be the safest form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” ~ Anne Wigmore