After recently getting news that a family friend had been diagnosed with cancer, I started thinking about how many people–young and old–seem to be acquiring serious diseases these days. Cancer is just one disease I feel like I’ve heard all too much about in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is on the rise and it’s no longer associated with aging people. Heart disease, high blood pressure and complications from high cholesterol are all growing. What confuses me is when I look back at past generations. While medicine wasn’t nearly as advanced 50-60 years ago, nor did we have half of the preventative measures we do today, it seems like my grandparents’ generation lived healthier lives. I’m no doctor and I don’t profess to have the answer, but maybe it has something to do with our lifestyles.
Is easier always better?
Today we have so many things that make our lives "easier," but are these inventions really doing us long term damage? Past generations were much more active in their daily lives. Just look at today’s kids who sit in front of the television or video game for hours on end. When I was their age we’d be outside playing, the idea of staying inside on a nice day would have killed us! Families spent time on the weekends doing things around the house–they didn’t pay to have someone come in and clean or mow the lawn. Even little things like remote controls. Remember when you actually had to get up off the sofa to turn the channel?
Speaking of making our lives easier, what about those prepackaged boxes of what we’ve come to know as convenience foods? There’s a recent commercial that talks about getting back to "real" and I think they might be on the right track. There is certainly something to be said about eating food that contains ingredients you know and can actually pronounce. Our grandparents didn’t have convenience foods. If they wanted to fix something they bought all the ingredients and prepared it. A snack was a piece of fruit, not some chewy, taffy-like thing that claims to have fruit in the ingredients.
My suggestion is that we take a minute and decide what conveniences we need and what we can do without. For example, instead of making one of those boxed rice or noodle side dishes, which contain enough sodium for the week, try making a side dish using basic ingredients. Short on time? Canned veggies can be prepared quickly and provide valuable nutrients. Take a look at our Quick Recipes, which can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Sometimes it helps to get back to the basics every now and then.