While nutritionists and dietitians should have been on this panel of experts, I feel they would agree with the most common "one change" advice: (1) eat smaller portions, (2) cut "foods" that have added sugars, and (3) eat real foods (fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, seeds, and spices).
The same rules applied to Indian food makes it much better, tastier and healthier. Read the article here, but for now here are my favorite entries (click "read more"):
- Marisa Weiss, physician and founder of Breastcancer.org
A major study by researchers at Imperial College London and the InterAct Consortium, released last month, of 350,000 individuals in eight European countries showed near-identical findings to earlier to North American studies. The Imperial study found that the risk for Type 2 diabetes is increased by 22% with the daily consumption of one typical 12 oz. soft drink and an additional 22% for those who had two such drinks per day. In a February 2012 "Nature" article, "The Toxic Truth About Sugar," the authors state that attention should be turned to foods with "added sugar," defined as any sweetener containing the molecule fructose that is added to food in processing. They declared a linkage between sugar and "all of the diseases associated with metabolic syndrome," including hypertension, high triglycerides and insulin resistance; diabetes from increased liver glucose production combined with insulin resistance; and the aging process. Even the World Health Organization found that high blood glucose ranked third after high blood pressure and tobacco use in its report on mortality and burden of disease.
- Charles Denham, physician & found of Texas Medical Institute of Technology
Obesity and associated chronic diseases stem from eating unhealthy food and eating too much of it. We have not made much headway curtailing the former, so I would shift gears and focus on the latter with the following message: Eat whatever you normally do, but eat less of it.
To get someone to change the message has to be simple. Keeping track of food groups, nutrient content and calories per meal is complicated. Trying to stick to one simple rule—whenever I'm eating, I'll eat less—is crystal clear, taxes less of the brain's limited self-control and feels less restrictive.
Change sticks when the environment makes it easy to do the right thing. At home, use smaller plates and bowls. At restaurants, order the smaller option. People and restaurants don't want their food options limited ("you can't have/sell that"), but it's less of an affront to personal freedom and the free market to say "eat/serve whatever you want, just dial it down." For many people, ordering the small buttered popcorn at the theater, getting the regular-sized specialty coffee at the cafe and not supersizing at their favorite fast-food restaurant would be major step in the right direction.
-Gupreet Dhaliwal, physician & director of internal medicine clerkships at San Francisco VA Medical Center