Live Well
October 2018

Reframing How We Approach Food and Health

I recently read a a fascinating article by Michael Hobbes called Everything You Know About Obesity is Wrong (you can read the article here). In it, the author examines the role of the medical community in worsening the obesity epidemic. One of the principal reasons is that it has by and large failed to look at what the real causes of obesity are.

The main problem, Hobbes says, is that the medical community has only considered one solution to obesity: eating less and exercising more. However, this has proved ineffective for many people. The main reason is that diets don’t work. When we diet, our bodies go into starvation mode and start storing fat so after a while we stop losing weight, whether or not we are exercising.

The other problem is that the medical community considers that eating less is equivalent to eating healthy. But, that’s not necessarily the case: one can eat fewer calories but those may not necessarily be healthy calories. As Hobbes writes, “The problem is that in America, like everywhere else, our institutions of public health have become so obsessed with body weight that they have overlooked what is really killing us: our food supply. Diet is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for more than five times the fatalities of gun violence and car accidents combined. But it’s not how much we’re eating—Americans actually consume fewer calories now than we did in 2003. It’s what we’re eating.”

This, I believe, is the root of the issue: we have become so concerned with convenience, cost, and speed when it comes to food and cooking that we have moved away from cooking and eating whole, real foods. We have come to see food as something that is purely functional rather than acknowledging that food has much more power than that. Instead, we rely on packaged and processed foods, foods that are high in sugar, and/or foods that contain additives and preservatives. These foods are damaging to our health because, at the most basic level, they are not real foods and our bodies don’t really know how to digest them. Also, these foods don’t contain any nutrients, vitamins or fiber, which are so crucial for our bodies to function. Finally, we need to learn to be present when we eat, so we can appreciate what we are eating.

I think we should frame the entire dialogue about obesity and healthy eating differently – from one that is about quantity to one that is about quality. We need to focus on food as a source of health and well-being and encourage people to eat whole, real foods rather than turning to foods that have very little nutritional content or are loaded with sugars.


Cook Well

Vegetable Paella

This flavorful vegetarian paella is delicious served with grilled shrimp
or a simple green salad.

Serves 6-8

2 cups carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron threads
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups paella rice, such as Bomba or Calasparra
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup frozen baby lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  1. 1.Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. 2. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and green beans and boil for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside.
  3. 3. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and golden. Add the saffron and continue to sauté a minute or two longer.
  4. 4. Add the crushed tomatoes and continue to sauté until the mixture is fairly dry, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the paprika.
  5. 5. Add the rice to the tomato sauce. Sauté the rice until it becomes fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. 6. Add 3 cups of stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
  7. 7. Scatter the carrots, green beans, lima beans on top of the rice. Season with salt and pepper and add the remaining stock.
  8. 8. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until a crust has form around the edges of the pan.
  9. 9. Remove from the oven, cover the pan with a lid or foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro.



Articles of Interest:

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to help local and minority farmers. READ WHY HERE

I am always surprised to see how little interest some college dining halls have in providing nutritious options for students. If you have children in college, here are some great tips for creating a food co-op so they can have more input into the food they eat. READ ARTICLE

Unfortunately, the effects of Hurricane Florence will go far beyond the flooding and destruction caused during the storm. READ ARTICLE

When the federal government doesn’t take action to prevent its citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals, it is up to communities to do it themselves. Unfortunately, a provision in the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill seeks to deter local communities from setting their own standard for pesticides. READ MORE ABOUT THIS HERE