Broccoli and Democracy

Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    Photo courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

I dreaded waking up today to see the backlash of the Election results. I knew that either way, the outcome would either encourage gloating or astonishment. In light of the outcome – President-Elect Donald Trump – the fear and concerns that I read on social media has me thinking. I know that readers of Chew the Facts are usually looking for food or nutrition information, but I often also write about food politics, so since politics and the health of our nation are the topics of the day, I’m filing this under Miscellaneous and Wellness.

As I read concerned citizens’ posts, I sense fear. Fear of having their rights taken away, or the astonishment about the perception that so many people in the country “hate [insert a number terms, genders, races, etc]”. It made me think about how the idea of moderation works in both politics and healthy eating – how what and how we eat, how we feed our children (with the hope of them accepting new foods through their lifetime) and how we accept change.

Moderation

In my line of work, dietitians have used the term moderation in eating for years and years. Lately, some have suggested that “moderation just doesn’t work” when it comes to diet. Well, I’m still going to fight for moderation, because I do think it can work for a lot of people. I’ve had clients eyes light up when I’ve given them permission to eat fried chicken (something they assumed was extreme or bad) as long as they worked to add more vegetables and fruit to their diet.

Extremes usually don’t work. They aren’t sustainable. We may very well have been at a point of extremism in our country, that just isn’t tolerable any longer. Nothing can happen when there is no moderation. When it comes to a healthy diet, you can have a scoop of ice cream, and eat your broccoli. Which brings me to my next point.

Tolerance

Imagine if you never offered a child broccoli. They never saw it. No exposure at all. Then all of the sudden, let’s say at age 20, some broccoli ends up on their plate. How do they accept it? It would look weird. And let’s face it, it smells bad. Would a 20 year old accept this green vegetable, having never been exposed to it before? No, they would be afraid. This fear would not stem from the reality of broccoli (it’s good for them), it would stem from the fact that they had never been exposed to it before.

Tolerance, whether of people who are different than you, or of a new food, takes exposure. It is perfectly normal to fear the unknown. We live in a big country. People living on a farm in Indiana are not necessarily in touch with the people who live in Boston, but we all live in the same country. People in New England eat oysters, people in the Midwest eat cactus.

Whenever possible, it’s a great idea to drive, get on a bus, or a plane, and check out a completely different state or city to see how different the culture and landscape is. Farms, cities, mountains. It’s beautiful. And it requires all kinds of different people to keep it together. If you can’t make a trip, use your public library to learn more about different states in our union. Just like it takes all kinds of foods to balance out your diet. I believe in moderation, and respect for others’ political and food preferences. People like meeting in the middle where they can have their cake, after they eat a balanced meal.

Back to the broccoli. It’s important to offer your toddler broccoli. Don’t force it on him, just offer it. After you offer several times, he’ll get comfortable with it, will probably try it, and may like it, and it’s good for him.

Emotion and Compromise

So. Much. Emotion. The extreme divide between our nation’s two parties breeds fear. We see this type of fear also working in the media’s discussion of our food supply. Sugar, GMOs, processed foods – all get bashed without regard to the actual facts. Fear is a strong emotion. When a new President takes office, people fear their human rights will be immediately taken away.  It doesn’t work that way. Luckily we still do have laws and a constitution. Things don’t change without a process.

Just as you can’t overhaul your diet overnight, you can’t overhaul Washington DC. in a day. Change takes effort, and time. It takes goal setting, and diligence. It takes compromise.

If you are going to change your eating or exercise routine, you can’t just say it, you have to do it. You have to get buy-in from yourself, and perhaps your family or friends. You have to try new foods and new routines.

Our country can handle four years of any president just as your body can handle a little junk food. Half the country is very disappointed, but we can meet in the middle and have cupcakes. After we eat our broccoli.

 

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