What Lies Beneath

Last night's dinner: Romaine Lettuce, homemade pico de gallo, bell pepper, onions and mushrooms sauteed in a little bit of vegetable oil, tomatillo salsa, avocado.  No dressing because the variety of salsas rendered it unnecessary.  I was so full after this meal that I felt like I had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner.

Cause of death for members of my husband's and my family:  
Cancer (various): 6
Alzheimers/Heart Disease/High Blood Pressure: 1
Diabetes related/Stroke: 2

Cardiovascular Disease (Heart) is the number one killer in the world, with Cancer as a close second.  The sad fact is that while fewer people die in the United States from heart attacks, the disease continues to increase.  The reason that fewer people die is because of the technology and surgeries that have been developed.  So it is a little deceptive - we die from heart attacks less, but more people are having them. 

According to Wikipedia:

"The Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth Study demonstrated that intimal lesions appear in all the aortas and more than half of the right coronary arteries of youths aged 7–9  years."

Which means - heart disease starts in children at around the age that they start having far more control over their food choices. 
It goes on to say:

"In fact, cardiovascular disease is the most life threatening of the diabetic complications and diabetics are two- to four-fold more likely to die of cardiovascular-related causes than nondiabetics."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children.  Obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, and childhood obesity has tripled in just one generation.  

The CDC has included suggestions on how to prevent diabetes.  I think it is a great place to start - as always, do your own research:

What healthy food choices should I make?

Eat smaller portions. Learn what a serving size is for different foods and how many servings you need in a meal.
Eat less fat. Choose fewer high-fat foods and use less fat for cooking. You especially want to limit foods that are high in saturated fats or trans fat, such as:
  • Fatty cuts of meat (to this I would add less meat in general.  Because of the hormones and antibiotics that are injected into meat, even "lean meats" are fattier than they used to be)
  • Fried Foods
  • Whole milk and dairy products made from whole milk (to this I would add - stay away from skim milk.  Your body needs small amounts of fat to absorb calcium and vitamin D.  If possible, choose almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk instead.)
  • Cakes, candy, cookies, crackers, and pies.
  • Salad dressings.
  • Lard, shortening, stick margarine, and nondairy creamers.

What should I eat more of?

Eat more fiber by eating more whole-grain foods. Whole grains can be found in:
  • Breakfast cereals made with 100% whole grains (wheat berries, quinoa, barley, brown rice, and other whole grains can be cooked the same way you cook oatmeal)
  • Oatmeal.
  • Whole grain rice.
  • Whole-wheat bread, bagels, pita bread, and tortillas (read labels - look for whole wheat breads that do not have high fructose corn sugar)
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit and 100% fruit juices most of the time. Eat plenty of veggies like these:
  • Dark green veggies (e.g., broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts).
  • Orange veggies (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash).
  • Beans and peas (e.g., black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils). 
  • I am adding leafy greens to this - kale, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, swiss chard, romaine

What should I eat less of?

Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, such as:
  • Fruit-flavored drinks.
  • Sodas.
  • Tea or coffee sweetened with sugar.
Use less salt in cooking and at the table. Eat fewer foods that are high in salt, such as:
  • Canned and package soups.
  • Canned vegetables.
  • Pickles.
  • Processed meats.
The amazing thing is that this similar diet helps to prevent Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, and while no studies have been done linking Depression and diet, at Webmd.com, they recommend a similar diet to the one above.