Why Cooking Can Save Our Lives.

Via on Aug 2, 2013

cooking

The cure for what ails us—both in our bodies and in our nation—can be found in the kitchen.

It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls.

Yet, in the 21st century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900, only two percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.

The food like substances proffered by the industrial food system trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure. But our biology rejects the junk forced on our genes and on our hormonal and biochemical pathways.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot handle these foods, and the result is the disaster we have in America today—70 percent of us are overweight, and obesity rates are expected to top 42 percent by the end of the next decade (up from only 13 percent in 1960).

Today one in two Americans has either pre-diabetes or diabetes.

In less than a decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

Really?

Almost one in four kids has pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Yes, and, perhaps even more shocking, 37 percent of kids at a normal weight have one or more cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t necessarily make you fat, it does make you sick! The food industry taxes our health and mortgages our children’s futures. Obese children will earn less, suffer more, and die younger.

It is time to take back our kitchens and our homes. Transforming the food industry seems like a gigantic undertaking, but it is in fact an easy fix. The solution is in our shopping carts, our refrigerators, and our cupboards—and on our dining room tables. This is where the power is. It is the hundreds of small choices you make every day, choices that will topple the monolithic food industry.

We need a revolution. Cooking real food is a revolutionary act. We have lost the means to care for ourselves. We have now raised the second generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook.

The average child in America doesn’t know how to identify even the most basic vegetables and fruit; our kids don’t know where their food comes from or even that it grows on a farm. Cooking means microwaving. Food “grows” in boxes, plastic bags, and cans. Reading labels is supremely unhelpful in identifying the source of most foods—the ingredients are mostly factory-made science projects with a remote and unrecognizable lineage to real food.

We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.

The average American spends eight hours a day in front of a screen (mostly the television) and spends more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking.

Convenience is killing us.eco green kitchen cooking food home house

In fact, real food can be inexpensive. Choosing simple ingredients, cooking from scratch, shopping at discount club stores, and getting produce from community supported agriculture associations (CSAs), community gardens, or co-ops all build health and community and save money.

Europeans spend nearly 20 percent of their income on food, Americans only about nine percent. Food is the best investment in your health.

I believe in the power of collective intelligence. Within my community are hundreds, if not thousands, of unheralded chefs experimenting with food and creating extraordinary meals and recipes. Within our individual and our national communities is the cure for what ails us. We are the answer. We are the revolutionaries who will change the face of food in America and around the world.

Yes, we need to change policy in order to change the food we grow and to subsidize real food instead of the walls of processed fat, sugar, flour, and trans fats that line our grocery and convenience stores. Yes, we need to end food marketing to children. We need to make schools safe zones for kids with only those products and activities that support healthy minds and bodies. There is no room for junk food or factory foods in schools. Period.

Yes, we need all that and more to take back our kitchens and our health. But each of us can start at home with a kitchen makeover. Three simple actions can change everything:

  1. Do a fridge makeover.
  2. Do a pantry makeover.
  3. Do a shopping cart makeover.

Once you have taken back your kitchen, then you can start something really revolutionary.

Find eight (or so) people you would love to know better or spend more time with. Invite them to start a supper club—once a week or once a month. Rotate dinners at one another’s houses. Share the cooking by creating a potluck, or take turns choosing some favorite recipes from this cookbook and preparing a feast for all. At each dinner pick a topic—about food, health, or community—to discuss. Then let the juices flow. The stew of food and friendship will nourish you deeply.

In this way—one by one, kitchen by kitchen, community by community—we will take back our health together!

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Pinterest}

About Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that every individual deserves a life of vitality—and that they have the potential to create it for themselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Mark and his team work every day to empower people, organizations and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.

Dr. Mark is a practicing family physician, a six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in his field. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post and a regular medical contributor on Katie Couric’s TV show, Katie.

To achieve his mission of transforming healthcare, Dr. Mark works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa also nominated Dr. Mark for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, he has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters, Achieving Wellness in Every Generation conference, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative.

Dr. Mark also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—he co-created The Daniel Plan with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Daniel Amen, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church collectively lose 250,000 pounds. He has appeared as an advisor on The Dr. Oz Show, and is also on the Board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating the American student body about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Mark crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease.

Join Dr. Mark on his path to revolutionize the way we think about and take care of our health and our societies by following along and chiming in online through his website, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @markhymanmd.

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6 Responses to “Why Cooking Can Save Our Lives.”

  1. Brooke says:

    Yes! Very good article! We cook all of our meals in my house. Once in a while we go out to eat with friends but it is not very common. Even getting together with friends we will have dinner at our house or theirs more often than going out to eat. It is much better on the wallet and much better on our bodies. It is a more intimate setting to be with friends also, in my opinion. There are so many resources out there for people who don't know how to cook, too. You just have to make it a priority, and why shouldn't you make your health and happiness a priority?

  2. ellenx says:

    good article- it's sad that this stuff actually needs to be pointed out to people & that it's not simply common sense anymore… don't forget shopping at your local farmers' market for super fresh produce & other goods in a much nicer atmosphere than "discount club stores". :)

  3. bringingyouohm says:

    Hear, hear!

    Over the years our household has transitioned to more and more fresh, organic whole foods… I don't even want to eat 99% of the processed foods out there (with the exception of a few wonderfully made organic products like seed crackers, etc).
    Now we can hardly stand eating out, unless it's at one of the three restaurants with fresh, local ingredients where we know the quality of the food is and it's preparation is sublime. Just wish I had a magic genie to do all the dishes cooking at home creates.

  4. Annemarie says:

    Fantastic article!! I have been saying and doing this for my little one, who is now three. We eat very little out of a box or can, and we do not eat out. It is nice to see someone in the same mindset as me, as most of those I speak to think I have gone overboard on nutrition. :)

    I have a huge problem with my metabolism and others things from eating out and processed food in my 20's, and it took 12 years and 27 medical doctors before I found someone, a chiropractor ironically enough, to look passed my weight and truly listen to my symptoms and help me find the underlying issues we needed to fix. I did tons of reading and research, pertaining to nutrition, so my son does not have the same issues.

    • Ziggy says:

      Dear Anne-Marie, when you say "as most of those I speak to think I have gone overboard on nutrition.", it really resonates with me. I always feel like I'm the weirdo because I feed my family and myself normal, nutritious, organic, non-processed food. My kids never had soda (even sparkling water, I don't want them to develop a taste for "bubbles"), I remove the 2 inch thick frosting on cupcakes at birthday parties (and I allow only one cupcake, not 2 or 3!), veggies are part of the school lunches I send everyday, and they always get eaten! My kids LOVE vegetables. If you don't give crap that taste "good", they learn the true taste of real good food. Because of all the obesity and more, this is my priority number one for my kids. I feel like I'm always against the flow in society, but hopefully in the long term it will pay off big time! Hugs, Ziggy

  5. I absolutely adore this article! I "walk this talk" and it it has indeed likely saved my life. I grew up in a typical American family with the Standard American Diet and by the time I was in high school I was obese, at 22 years old over 100 pounds overweight. I was sick, tired, living half of a life. Then one day I looked at my 2 year old daughter and realized I HAD to create a new healthy family legacy or she was likely destined for the same path I was on. Our family was dying early, everyone was on medication for lifestyle related diseases. I decided right then and there I was changing it for our family and generations to come. It all started and revolves around the family table. I bring life to our table, one delicious, real food meal at a time. No more dieting. Learning to listen to my body and treating us all to real, beautiful food, cooked at home and enjoyed together as a family. I lost over 100 pounds, got off of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar medications (yes, I was on these at 24 years old) and live a vibrant, healthy and delicious life. Thank you so much for your article, I'm sure you touched many lives with it!

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