How The Food Industry Keeps Telling Us We Should Pick A Favorite Child

There is the common saying that diet makes up to 80% of the equation that guarantees a health and lifestyle change. In simple terms, food definitely matters.

It can take an individual as little as 20 minutes to finish a lunch meal of 600 calories but in order to burn that same amount with exercise it may require at least 45 to 60 minutes of moderate activity.

When it comes to weight loss (or weight gain) we surely have heard before that it all comes down to “calories in versus calories out”. Some people go all out on the fitness part while others focus on cleaning up their plate.

Diet is that important because it is much easier to overeat and much more difficult to expend those calories. It is diet that has always accounted for 80% of successful weight loss and sustainable lifestyle changes. It has always been “diets” the main selling point of many weight loss plans.

However, messages telling us to “move more” have slowly started to creep in.

Recently, it was published in The New York Times that Coca-Cola is funding a group of scientists to help spread the message that exercise may be more important than diet when it comes to health improvements.

The beverage brand is supporting a new non-profit organization called Global Energy Balance Network in the hopes of raising awareness that exercise is what Americans should really be focusing on for better health.

James O’ Hill from the University of Colorado School of Medicine highlighted that the scientists are the ones “running the show” and that Coca-Cola is only offering support. The public can rest assured that they have nothing to hide.

We are reading on the media that “sitting is the new smoking” and that we should be replacing our office furniture for treadmill desks. It has also recently told us that walking has innumerable benefits for the brain.

This is not the first time that big corporations have funded health research and it is definitely not the first time we have heard contrasting arguments over diet and exercise importance on the media.

There are times when keeping an eye on total calorie intake and food choices becomes the topic at reach on the media, and there are other times where it is all about pushing hard with every workout that becomes the latest recommendation.

Food and exercise are happier together, in balance. Food and exercise cannot be unlinked nor they cannot be divorced.

It reminds me of those times when a mother is asked to name her favourite child. Perhaps one day one of her children may be behaving extremely well and she may be inclined to name him or her as the favourite child; however, very quickly she will shake that idea from her mind and say she cannot pick one.

The truth is that we need both food and exercise in the equation, just as a mother will love both of her children. We can’t just pick a favorite.

Balance is one of the most important factors for a happy, durable and exciting life. Balance makes hard working shifts bearable knowing that we will most likely be rewarded with some time off. Balance allows us to enjoy our favourite dessert when we nurture our body with nutritious meals alongside.

Saying that exercise is more important than food or that food is more important that exercise distorts the balance.

Big corporations have the power to monopolize the market and single out causes for society’s problems. They can create movements, change and trends so that we have a reason for buying their products.

The industry tends to break the balance and that is why we get such conflicting messages.

It is practically impossible nowadays to find a diet that recommends a balance between fat, carbs and protein. It is as if there is always one macronutrient that overpowers the rest.

Fat has always carried such a negative reputation and for years we have lived believing that “low fat” and “fat free” diets were the best ones that we could follow for optimum weight loss. Apparently new studies are showing we thought wrong. This has lead to people making butter and coconut oil become staples in their kitchens arguing that the benefits of consuming these foods are just unquantifiable.

“High fat” is what we hear now across the border, which means that carbohydrates by defect have been asked to sit facing the corner.

If “high fat” diets will provide the best health then that means that “high carb” ones won’t. However, “high carb” vegetarian or vegan diets also seem to lead to weight loss successful efforts and better health, with fat set to blame for many health problems.

For the majority of individuals that may be starting their health journey or want to shed a few pounds it is simply exhausting to make up their minds. There are just too many conflicting arguments and many choices to make. Should they pick carbs or should they pick fat? It is like picking a favourite child.

Exercise is not that different and in the fitness world the extremes also exist. Should I choose Crossfit or should I sign up for yoga? Should I start running or should I focus on weight training? Every exercise activity is housed in a different world and once you pick a new home you must befriend those people. It kind of reminds me of The Harry Potter or The Hunger Games movies.

Food and exercise account for a large proportion of any health change. However, just as plants need more than carbon dioxide and water during the photosynthesis process we need to keep an eye on other things too. Plants need to add sunlight to the equation. Our sunlight in the equation is our mind, our feelings, our emotions and our brain.

Our mind is hugely important to make a lifestyle change sustainable, to get to that Zen place or that balance. Nonetheless, we still get conflicting messages.

One day we are told to plan in advance but the next to just live on the go. Similarly, we should say “yes” and “no” more often but not in the same scenarios. Similarly, we should spend more time with friends but also on our own.

It seems that there always needs to be something that we should do more of, think more of, buy more of, or believe more on.

Coca-Cola is telling us that we should be focusing more on how much exercise we do. I agree. However, with their message they are not trying to create balance but break it. They break the balance because they have an interest in taking our eyes off our food choices. They want people to drink more Coke. They break the balance because their messages have the power to overpower.

We need more messages from places that can really create change, that can really move people but we need complete and balanced messages. We need messages that say how important both food and exercise is in equal measures, just as a mother will love both of her children in equal measure. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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