Two major shifts are creating a BIG problem.
Peruse nearly any dieting blog and you’re likely to find one or more of the following recommendations:
You need to eat 5-6 meals a day.
Eating throughout the day increases your metabolism.
Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week.
Is this advice valid? Or is it the reason we’re less healthy than ever?
We’ve heard all of these over the last several years, right? And yet, when you look for scientific validation of these things, you’ll be hard pressed to find it. In fact, you’ll likely find that the opposite is true.
A recent report from the Journal of the American Medical Association detailing the prevalence of obesity in America across age groups, geography, race and education illustrated the wide-spread nature of obesity in the United States and the growing rate of obesity among children.
How did we get here? Part of the problem, some scientists believe, rests in our current eating habit and perceptions.
In spite of the lack of scientific validation, common recommendations like the ones above have catalyzed a major shift in the way many of us eat today.
Confusingly, these recommendations—particularly the perceived license to eat much more than we need—has been touted as a healthier way to live when, in fact, we are less healthy, more overweight, with more preventable disease than ever before.
What’s going on?
Two fundamental changes in dietary habits occurred between 1970 (before the obesity epidemic) and today.
The first change: What we’re advised to eat.
Prior to 1970, there was no official governmental dietary advice. But with the publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we were told to cut the fat in our diets and replace that with carbohydrates.
The second change: When we eat.
We’ve gone from eating three meals a day in the 1950s to often six meals a day today.
From the NHANES study in 1977, most people at the time consumed three meals per day. There was little or no snacking. Any sort of food in between meals was considered a treat to only be indulged in occasionally. By 2004, people were eating six times per day. Children were receiving a mid-morning snack and an after-school snack. If they played sports, it became commonplace to provide an event snack of juice and cookies.
And there’s that trendy recommendation to eat six “small” meals per day. But of course, the definition of a “small” meal is very much open for interpretation and leads many of us to effectively double our intake in comparison to previous generations.
Without proper science to back it up, many nutritional authorities endorsed frequent meals as a healthy practice. Some have attributed this support to the successful efforts of snack food companies advertising to dieticians who simply went along for the ride.
This shift was not just an American phenomenon. Surveys in China show that from 1991 to 2009, the percentage of children and adults who snacked increased significantly. In children aged 13-18, snacking went from 8.7 percent to 46.3 percent – a five-fold increase. Adults went from 8.7 percent to 35.6 percent, a four-fold increase.
A recent study on current eating habits found that only 10 percent of Americans eat 3.3 times a day. The top 10 percent of people ate 10 times per day!
What and when we eat go a long way to explaining the current rates of obesity and co-occurring diseases. But of course, there’s more to the story. It also has to do with how and when we move.
Perhaps the biggest culprit of all? A general lack of understanding. In spite of unprecedented levels of tracking and data, we’re struggling more than ever to take control of our health.
What if we had the right information at our fingertips and it was simple and intuitive to use? That could change everything.
It’s coming. And it’s called Lume™.