Three Things - 3 Food Categories to Watch

Ahhh, the aroma

I come home from a day in clinic, and as I open the door from the garage I can tell there are cookies waiting in the kitchen. My wife and my daughter both love to bake, and during the pandemic they've both spent more time in the kitchen honing their craft. So on this day, I'm greeted by oatmeal raisin cookies, my personal favorite.

From the onset of social distancing in March, it didn't take long to figure out that having cookies on the counter all the time was not going to be a brilliant strategy for my health. Even when I might not be thinking I'm hungry, the sight of these treats is very hard for me to resist.

Not wanting to be a downer for my family, experimenting let me discover that as long as the cookies moved out of direct view (into the freezer is great), I greatly increase the odds that I won't succumb to temptation.

We are creatures of our environment

One of the lessons from the Blue Zones is that in healthy cultures, the environment "nudges" people toward the healthy choice. In Ikaria, Greece or in Okinawa, Japan, chances are you'll need to walk a lot, eat local vegetable focused cuisine, and you'll have plenty of time for sleep.

I'm fairly certain our Western Culture pushes us the opposite direction, away from the healthy choice. Look at obesity rates. In the US, between 1990 and 2018, the obesity rate has roughly tripled (12% to 36.5%). The tripling seems to hold true for the "skinniest state" Colorado (7% to 23%) and for the other extreme, Mississippi (15% to 39.5%).

While our genetics might be shifting over time, 30 years is not sufficient time for significant genetic change to occur. There has to be a change in our environment to account for this.

The Food Supply

I don't think there is a simple answer, and likely multiple factors are at play. Today I wanted to share this one report from the USDA which showed that between 1970 and 2003, our daily calorie consumption increased by over 500 calories. Of this increase, 92% came from these 3 categories of foods:

  • Fats and Oils. Think mainly commercial oils like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil added to processed foods
  • Grains. Look mainly at refined grains, again mainly in processed foods and commercial baked goods.
  • Added sugars. Especially high fructose corn syrup.

It makes sense that working to reduce our consumption of these 3 ingredients would be to our benefit.

Easier said than done

Of course, in our present world, it's not easy to do this. Just like the cookies on the counter might be my undoing at home, having an abundance of highly-processed foods in our environment makes it hard to say "No."

For my clients I've created two "audits" to help you with highly-processed food and added sugars, and I'd like to offer those to you as well.

Highly Processed Food Audit

Added Sugar Audit

I hope you find these useful, and I wish you a great week.


Dr. Topher Fox


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