June 1, 2014

Eating Organic Affects Our Attitudes Toward Others. ~ Brian Stever

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In recent years, more and more people are becoming aware of the notion “healthy eating.”

Marketing teams around the world pray on our media-influenced ideals of an “attractive physique,” promoting diet plans, low-calorie alternatives and organically grown or non-GMO products.

Over infatuation with our appearances and weight are rising problems and disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia have seen significant increases, according to studies by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It is apparent that the issue at hand isn’t simply propagated by the media, it’s being reinforced and regurgitated by people like you and me.

While research unanimously agrees that a well-balanced diet will lead to a healthier and longer life, sometimes we put too much emphasis on this pillar and not enough on the structure as a whole. Health and wellbeing is multifaceted and involves more than just a nutritious diet. Needless to say, it includes living an active lifestyle, but more subtly, it includes showing respect and compassion.

Modern society has become more interested in self-promotion than promoting others.

We take pictures of what we eat, how far we run, and what we look like in the mirror at our local gyms. We have cultivated an online subculture of self-absorption that has been perpetuated by social media. Thousands of “selfies” are taken every day and shared through virtual platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

So the perplexing question is, “If someone eats a healthy meal in the woods and no one is there to share it, did it really even happen?”

We have become so aware of what we eat that we’ve actually conditioned ourselves to notice what others eat as well. Some self-proclaimed “health conscious” individuals occasionally criticize the diets of their benighted companions. We are so quick to judge other people’s habits and to criticize their choices, but is this not an unhealthy act of negativity in its own right?

In my opinion, a healthy lifestyle is a balance between maintaining positive physical, mental/emotional, and social wellbeing. The first step is the awareness and then comes the initiation.

If you’re focusing all of your efforts on your physical health, but are neglecting your attitude towards others, won’t this simply have annulled effect on your overall objective?

A study led by Dr. Kendall Eskine, at Loyola University in May 2012, suggests that eating organic food could make you more judgmental and self-righteous. During the session, sixty people were divided in three different groups and each group was shown a series of photos. One group was presented with photos of organic food, another with comfort foods, and the third with neither organic nor comfort foods, such as rice and mustard.

After viewing the series of images they were asked to answer a number of questions surrounding issues of morality, then, before leaving, they were asked if they could further volunteer their time to an additional study. Researchers found a noticeable difference between the three groups.

The individuals who were shown the photos of the Organic Food were more critical, whereas the comfort food group tended to be less judgmental. Perhaps the most intriguing finding was that the organic people only offered to volunteer for a mere average of 13 minutes, as compared with the happy comfort-food group’s 24-minute commitment.

The third group, as you may have predicted, slotted in almost exactly in the middle at 19 minutes.

Dr. Eskine explained the motivation behind his study stating, “I’ve noticed a lot of organic foods are marketed with moral terminology, like Honest Tea, and wondered if you exposed people to organic food, if it would make them pat themselves on the back for their moral and environmental choices. I wondered if they would be more altruistic or not.”

It’s curiosity of Psychologists likes Dr. Eskine that allows us to unearth these understandings of why we do what we do.

Our overall wellbeing is all-encompassing, while a well-balanced diet is essential; it’s really only one ingredient in the recipe. It’s a combination of physical, mental, emotional, and social awareness that collectively define the rubric of life.

If you have an A+ in one class, but you’re only scoring D’s in the rest, then you’re on a destructive course towards failure.

We are capable as human beings of achieving greatness, but sometimes we need a little constructive criticism and self-evaluation to readjust our paths.

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Apprentice Editor: Amani Omejer / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Flickr

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