Junk Food: The Unspeakable Addiction
By Wilson Adams
John Maxwell knows his stuff and his stuff is…leadership. His books on the subject have sold more than 18 million copies. John told me a couple years ago that everything he has learned about leadership, he learned from…the Bible. Surprised? John Maxwell doesn’t force his faith on anyone and neither do I. That said; here’s a second secret: everything I have learned about health and nutrition, is rooted (pun intended) in…the Bible.
For example, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you (Genesis 1:29). And while God later approved of eating meat, Scripture advocates moderation.
We Are What We Eat
Certainly no one in this age of information can take issue with that. The problem, however, isn’t information but motivation. We know but choose to look the other way. Consider—
- 1 in 3 Americans live with cardiovascular disease (CDC)
- 1 in 3 Americans are obese (AMA)
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will develop cancer (NCI)
- By 2050, 1 in 3 adults (and children) will develop diabetes (CDC)
- More than 25% of American children are on prescription drugs (WSJ)
- By age 12, many of our children have developed the beginning stages of hardening of the arteries (Bogalusa Heart Study)
- The U.S. healthcare expenditures are approaching $3 trillion per year (CMS.gov).
Even though we are the sickest people on the planet, we continue to whistle past the food bar while pretending everything is fine. But everything is not fine. We are sick and we are dying. Dr. David Katz, M.D. (Founding Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center and Editor of Childhood Obesity Journal) said, “This may be the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” Read that again. Indeed, we are eating ourselves to disease and death.
Your Body is a Temple
That’s biblical, too (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are quick to teach the teens about drinking, drugs, smoking, etc. with the understanding that we are stewards over our bodies. Is it too much of a stretch to make the same application to our food choices? “You who teach another, do you not teach yourself” (Romans 2:21). It’s a valid question.
I am not a vegetarian. I am not the food police. I am not radical or extreme. However, I will say that having a surgeon open your chest for a heart by-pass is radical. And chemotherapy is radical. So are complications from diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health issues we face in record numbers. And while some illnesses are more hereditary than dietary, the medical research doesn’t lie. Pediatrician and author Dr. Bill Sears declared, “75% of all chronic disease is preventable.” Are you kidding me? No.
Gluttons for Punishment
We walk into a restaurant and are immediately asked if we want it “supersized?” Really? Americans are infatuated (careful with that word!) with their “All-You-Can-Eat” food bars and indulge with a wink and a nod. Given the statistics, it’s not funny any more.
Let me explain two things. First, no one can become healthy for you. You must decide. And that decision takes place in your head long before it ever reaches your fork. And while you cannot stop the effects of physical aging as the body begins its demise, you can slow down the process by making the proactive decision to become healthier. Sadly, pharmaceutical companies have conditioned us to respond to health issues after the fact (they want you to be sick—it’s how they make $$$). Does it ever occur to us that we have it backwards? Remember this saying—“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It still is.
Second, while doctors and medicines are essential, there is only so much that either can do to treat symptoms that have accumulated over a lifetime of bad choices. We shake our heads at the nicotine addict who continues to smoke in spite of needing oxygen and then…we do the same thing with our food choices. The wise man said, “Put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite” (Proverbs 23:2). Whoa!
This doesn’t have to be hard. I recommend (1) the 80/20 food rule (make good food choices 80% of the time—which allows for the occasional fun food), (2) drink more water (since the Creator made our bodies 70% H2O, we must replenish what it craves), (3) avoid the colas (I was present when Cleveland Brown quarterback Colt McCoy told high school athletes to get off the soft drinks. He’s right), (4) exercise thirty minutes per day, (5) eat more fruits and vegetables (after all, when God made man, He put him in a…garden!), and (6) take Juice Plus (whole food nutrition with 17 fruits, vegetables, and grains). BONUS: Because of its NSF certification, the Boston Red Sox have joined other professional athletes in recommending JP to their players. Do you think they know something?
Modern-Day Marlboro Men (and Women)
As an Americana humorist author (that’s fancy talk for someone infatuated with nostalgia), I love the idealism of the 50s and 60s. I remember nuclear bomb drills in grade school when we were told to crouch beneath our desks and cover our heads—as if that accomplished anything. Of course it was the same era in which the Marlboro Man made smoking glamorous (by the way, there were three different actors portraying the Marlboro Man and all three died of lung cancer). In other words, we were ignorant but we didn’t care. Fifty years later, when it comes to food choices, I’m not sure we’ve made much progress.
Have your life and health reached a turning point? There’s no better time to change than…now. Help with any addiction begins with an admission of a struggle. Pray about it. Seek guidance from those qualified to give it. You can eat your way to a healthier you and, in so doing, offer greater availability to the people around you. After all, the biblical admonition to “love your neighbor as yourself” begins with…loving you. And you are worth it!
Wilson Adams lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and is an author of books on Americana Humor. In 2009 he co-authored “A Life Lost and Found—A Journey of Hope and Healing Through Tragedy.” He speaks across the country on how God can turn hardship into blessing. You may contact him at www.alifelostandfound.org