How Oscar Wilde Helped Me Stop Eating Chocolate!

by DavalosMcCormack on August 16, 2010

It’s one of the biggest conundrums in public health: we have more information about how to lead a healthy lifestyle than ever, more information about how to lose weight or eat a healthy diet, and yet more and more peopleĀ  are fatter than ever and eating worse than ever. So why is that?

Jar of Mayonnaise

The only choice

Well, part of it is obviously that we have more options now. Growing up in England there were two choices of salad dressing at the local supermarket: mayonnaise or nothing. Today, the average grocery store has so many options you could spend a week trying to decide what to put on your lettuce. And the same applies for pretty nearly every other food group. We’re spoiled for choice and often do a bad job of making good choices.

Making the right choice

Part of it is that even when we make good choices, such as choosing a low-fat version of a product, we undermine that by eating too much of it. I have seen people eat a whole non-fat cake just because they thought that the lack of fat meant an equal lack of calories, forgetting to notice that the manufacturer had added a ton of sugar to make it taste ok.

Dr. Teresa Quattrin, the Chair of the Pediatric Department at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, noticed a similar thing in a recent study she did with children 2 to 5 years old. She found that seven out of ten of those children were eating too many calories, in some cases far more than the recommended 1,200 calories a day. In addition they weren’t getting as much activity as kids that age needed. Even at that age we are leading more sedentary lives than in the past.

Even healthy options can have a downside

Quattrin said that even children whose parents were giving them healthy foods were overdoing it. For instance, there were children who ate a whole carton of strawberries in one sitting and their parents thought that was fine. But, as Quattrin points out, even healthy food can have a downside if you are eating too much of it. And of course, if you are eating too much of a healthy food the chances are you might also be eating too much of other, much less healthy foods.

Shirley says her mum once decided that carrots were really good and she should eat more of them. A lot more. She ate so many that her skin started to turn orange. True story.

Bunch of strawberries

Not always a healthy choice

Quattrin says the most important thing when trying to lead a healthy life is to surround yourself with healthy options, and limit the number of unhealthy ones. For instance, have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in the house and refrigerator, but very few so-called “treats” such as cookies and cakes and chips and candy. If children are surrounded by healthy food options they will grow up thinking that is the normal way to eat. Good habits are important things to develop from an early age.

Banish temptation

And let’s face it, the same thing applies to grown ups. If we have fresh fruits around us we are more likely to snack on them. If we have fresh fruit, plus cakes and candy and cookies, guess which things win out first.

That’s one of the reasons why I don’t have chocolate bars in the house. I know that, like Oscar Wilde, I can resist anything except temptation!

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