a.) It is a great way to log a few precious moments of social interaction before going all Jedi mind trick with my computer screen.
b.) It is a goldmine for writing topics for this blog. Seriously.
I’m generally hard-pressed to pass minute four before the “What’s for lunch?” chatter begins. If that starts at minute four, my head is unconsciously shaking by minute seven. By minute ten, my body’s in full-blown Harlem Shake mode, which for some reason is the default ‘get me the F out of here; I can’t listen to this crap any more’ setting. Staring contests with a LED screen have to be better – and less frustrating – than listening to people plot the atomic bomb mission they are about to call in on their metabolisms.
Our bodies are essentially the same now as they were more than 40,000 years ago, showing very little changes since the time when we overrode the Neanderthals. What has changed is our diets. Think plugging your Prius’ battery charger up to a Model T, or cramming the latest Xbox One disc into your Uncle Robert’s Atari console. Even the least technologically advanced among us would think either of these scenarios to be silly, right? Well, judging by the quantity, quality, and variety of foods we’re putting into our bodies, the answer is no. In addition to eating more, we work out less and spend much more time sedentary – sitting at computers, playing video games and prowling YouTube for the next Justin Bieber. We also cook for ourselves less than ever before. All of these factors combined are causing a national health crisis of epidemic proportions.
Let me hit you with a few stats: 72% of adults and 32% of adolescents and children in our country are overweight or obese, nearly 10% of Americans suffer from diabetes, cancer is both more prevalent and increasing at a faster rate than ever before, and 1 in 4 deaths in the US are related to heart disease . Now let me hit you with a fact: EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE ISSUES ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR DIET AND LIFESTYLE. I’m going to do my best to avoid being super scientific when writing these posts. I just think that when making sweeping statements such as the one above, there needs to be at least some research-based support behind them. Otherwise, my claims are about as valid as Tony the Tiger telling you that Frosted Flakes are great. They aren’t.
In the October 2000 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a Harvard researcher and his crew of nutrition henchmen released a paper documenting the prevalence of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in men aged 40-75. The study, which consisted of 44,875 medical professionals – that’s right, medical professionals have shitty diets, too – tracked eight years’ worth of follow-up (1986-1994) from the test subjects. To summarize briefly, each study participant filled out the equivalent of a 131-question food SAT, known in the biz as a food frequency questionnaire. This tool is used to determine the overall dietary patterns of the eaters and how those patterns lead to CHD. If you’re interested in reading more on the ins and outs of the study (#highlyencouraged) then do so. I don’t want to waste too much time citing another literary piece that you can read on your own.
So what did they find? Basically, that listening to your mom’s advice from your pre-teen years was/is/ideally will always be the gospel. In a trend coined by the authors as the ‘prudent pattern’, study results revealed that the consumption of more vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, fish, and poultry led to a statistically significant pattern of lower risk for CHD and CHD-related death. That’s the positive trend they picked up. The other statistically significant trend derived from the study’s intel: the so-titled “Western pattern” of diet, characterized by higher intake of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, sweets and dessert, French fries, and high-fat dairy products – you know, basically everything that the average person eats during their lunch - led to dramatically increased risk rates for the development of CHD and CHD-related deaths .
“Yea, yea, yea,” you all say, “we’ve heard this sermon before.” I won't argue that you havn't. The only reason I take the time to sing your favorite health song’s chorus yet again is that the verdict is in and this stuff is killing people. Let me reiterate: WHAT YOU ARE EATING DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAKS IS KILLING YOU. That is not a statement I bring to the table lightly, nor is it one that I expect people to digest easily. But whether you’re thrilled to no end to hear the news or want to cybersmack me via Skype, the reality of the situation remains the same.
In these next posts, I will begin breaking down some of the current lunch pitfalls in which we find ourselves. There won’t be a constant barrage of dining don’ts in the mix though. I would rather take our time to offer up dining do’s instead. The way I see it is that we only have so many hours in a day to eat. If we begin replacing the things that we should not eat with those that we should, our bodies (and minds) will begin to slowly but surely buy into the idea of being fed rather than simply eating. As that transformation happens our lifestyles will become more harmonized with the bodies that lead them.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 Am J Clin Nutr October 2000; vol. 7; 2 no. 4; 912-921