The food you eat may be killing you... not an exaggeration

I was stunned, but not shocked, to read that hot dogs and really all processed meats, (yes deli meats, ie, ham, turkey, bacon etc) have been linked to colon cancer. A lifetime of devouring them will cause future health complications. No kidding! Next time you grab that wiener or give one to your kids--think again! Sorry to be a Debby Downer but it gets worse. It's not just hot dogs, it's the entire American diet which is based on highly processed foods. After a lifetime of eating foods with ingredients that you can't pronounce or even know what they are, researchers predict that this generation of Americans will live less than their parents! The people who study this have been shouting at us to take a hard look at the way we eat. Are you listening?

Check out Dean Ornish's concise and sharp lecture on the world's killer diet, i.e The Western diet.

Last year, I visited a Child Obesity Clinic in the South Bronx for a freelance piece that I wrote for HHC Today. Toddlers as young as three years old were being treated for obesity and diabetes. Children who as adults, if their nutritional habits and lifestyle doesn't change, may face dialysis, amputations or both! Causes for the huge rates of obesity are plenty and include poverty, lack of information, sedentary lifestyles and of course, all the cheap and readily available junk foods that are as delicious as they are toxic.  As I was leaving the clinic, I noticed parents strolling babies who held sugar water (soda, orange water, red water in their bottles), bags of Doritos and other chips. Walking back to the subway I passed by several Dunkin Donuts and fried chicken spots and of course, several Chinese restaurants and pizzerias. Not one salad bar. Not one fruit stand. Not one park in a twenty block radius. The neighborhood, still the poorest Congressional district in the nation, is also the epicenter of obesity. No wonder!

But the reality is that the South Bronx is not alone in the rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and asthma. Bronxites have lots of company--the several million of Americans who are now battling the same preventable diseases which research shows, are also reversible with simple changes in lifestyle.

And yes, it starts with what you put in your mouth. On this gorgeous August Friday, I don't want to just give you bad news. I hope to inspire you to take a look at what you eat and if you have children, what you feed them.

Michael Pollan's "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual," has helped me a lot. It's a simple, cogent, slim book that offers 64 rules to keep in mind if you want to eat healthier.  What should you eat? "Food," he says. PS that does not include highly processed foods.What kind of food should make it to your plate? "Mostly plants!" In fact, 70 percent of your plate should be plants. The grandma wisdom Pollan captured in this book is not that hard to comprehend. Granted, it's a lot more difficult to follow. Food is about much more than hunger-- it's connected to emotions, tradition, culture, (hello chuchifritos, hello smothered pork chops!)  

Ignorance is bliss and it was so much easier for me to eat that bacon cheeseburger with french fries and a cold glass of soda before I became conscious. Ever since I became healthy food awake, I can't find joy in a simple meal of food that I know is simply junk.

It's not that easy, but it can be done

In order for me not to feel overwhelmed or obsessed by what I eat, I take it one meal at a time, and though challenging, it works. I keep it simple: try to eat several fruits a day, drink lots of water, get my butt to the hot yoga studio at least four times a week and I bike everywhere. I also incorporated lots of veggies, am not at 70% more like 40%. And if you know anything about me, that small fact will come as a shock. Because before I was hip to the beauty of nutritious eating, there was not one veggie I met that I liked. The lesson: yes you can.

Happy eating, happy life.