What is the message in ‘Jamie Oliver’s food revolution’?

141_0767April 7, 2010

In the past couple of weeks, I have been watching the TV show that sparked some discussion on this blog a couple of weeks ago. After watching it so far [and with plans to continue to do so], I wanted to take note of a couple of points in his message that may be getting lost.

First, I heard Jamie say, “It is not about weight. …Thin people can be unhealthy, too.” This is a message about our health that gets lost in the clutter of messages about weight loss, dieting, obesity, and the fixation on what the scales say. Another time that I heard a similar message in a popular TV show was one year when the first dancer to be voted off ‘Dancing with the stars’ was a model. When she was rehearsing and then performing, she did not have the physical strength to pull herself up from some of the positions her partner placed her in. She was beautiful but as her expert dance partner said, “She is deceptively unfit.” So, yes, it is NOT about the weight. If we could follow more of the fitness model and less of the weight model, a healthy weight would likely be one of the outcomes. This is one of the great messages being communicated by Michelle Obama… to the kids of the U.S., get out and get up and get moving. To the rest of as adults who set role models for our youth and for our friends and family and coworkers, ditto… I talk about this in my book ‘Talking about health’ when I tell my own experience with sitting at the computer for too many hours over too many years and developing bone spurs in my neck–literally a stiff neck. I talk about how our generation of computer workers is not unlike the old factory and production line works in that we are in one position for too long and literally get stiff [and a little fat from it, too]. My physical therapist told me, ‘Never sit at the computer for more than 30 minutes without getting up and taking a stretching break for at least 2 minutes.’ He told me to set a timer and I do–at home and at the office. Get moving and make it fun!

A second message from Jamie Oliver’s show that we should hear and act on has to do with the how over processed our foods have become. We have given the food industry a profit motivation to come up with products for us to purchase that say on them such things as ‘fat free’ or ‘no sugar added.’ A long list of ingredients then includes a lot of long words that none of us recognize because they have mostly been created in food laboratories. I was shocked when Jamie showed a class of youngsters various vegetables and the kids could not name a ‘tomato’ or a ‘potato.’ They knew what french fries are but not what a potato looks like. Wow! A shout-out to those writing the ABC picture books. We need to put some vegetables in one. Perhaps an entire picture book devoted to vegetables. And then, of course, it would be great if we followed up by eating some of these vegetables. On this blog a couple of weeks ago when the Jamie Oliver show was brought up by a participant, it was noted that the cost of fresh vegetables is high. The cost of frozen vegetables may be a good substitute. One of the partipants in that discussion said that she could buy a bag of mixed frozen vegetables in the store brand for $1 and feed her family of four with it. I suspect that the store advertises that product with an emphasis on the cost rather than the nutrition. We need more communication about how to use frozen affordable vegetables when fresh ones are not an option.

Third, following on the heels of our food being over processed is a message about our foods containing too much salt. Most of us know that the ‘dead sea’ doesn’t support any life because the water is too salty. Well, when we get too much salt, our health doesn’t do well. That is one of the challenges of buying frozen vegetables. We still have to look at the product to see if anything has been added. Not all frozen vegetables are created ‘equal.’ Some of them have salt added. So it is not just the long scientific chemical names to watch out for when looking at nutrition labels and the ingredients of products, we need to watch out for ‘sodium’–salt that has been slipped into the ingredients. We can change the way products come to us. We change them with the votes of our dollars–our food purchasing dollars…

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16 Responses to “What is the message in ‘Jamie Oliver’s food revolution’?”

  1. Cody Doyle says:

    I am someone who diets to gain weight. I think it is a phenomena that falls victim to under discussion. I know a lot of young men who try to eat their way into a larger size that represents their “ideal” physique. If you search for healthy ways to gain weight the information just isn’t out there. Many of the foods/supplements I consume are designed for people like me. The daily values of each ingredient are often listed for both 2000 and 2500 calorie diets. My concern is regarding the sodium and cholesterol in my diet. Is it okay to adjust my sodium & cholesterol intake proportionately to my 3000+ daily calories?

  2. kathleen says:

    Thanks for mentioning the problem with the extremely high sodium content in most processed foods. I am amazed how little attention is paid to this issue. Just trying to stay within suggested suggested recommended standards is nearly impossible if consuming much in the way of processed food. And if a medical condition necessitates consuming less – forget it! Even certain cuts of fresh pork and chicken are injected with sodium to improve the ‘look’ and ‘texture’. I believe that as the population ages there will more of a demand for ‘low sodium’ products (as more American’s are diagnosed with heart disease and told to consume less sodium) and as a result I expect that there will be a dramatic increase in ‘low sodium’ product offerings just as there has been for ‘fat free’. However, in my opinion, the answer is not buying more processed food in which sodium has been replaced with some other chemicals. So I recently started a personal food revolution and am focused on learning to cook flavorful low sodium meals with only fresh ingredients for my family. Given that we started with fairly healthy diets (lots of fresh fruits, veggies, etc), I was shocked as to how big of an adjustment this is. But, I believe we will all be the healthier for it and hopefully what is ‘revolutionary’ for me and my husband will be the norm for our children when they are adults.

  3. lee says:

    It’s good to know that “being thin” doesn’t always mean “being healthy”, especially when we are exposed to all the pictures of skinny models. It empowers us to view our bodies in a new and healthier way.
    Now I think I will be more alert when I do the groceries. Without much concern, I used to be even somewhat glad to find some cheap “alternatives” like the frozen vegetables you mentioned above. But eating those frozen things might cause a health problem that would eventually cost me more money… so I think from now on I’d better pay more attention to the nutrition facts of a product.
    However, as a way to solve the problem, at the end of this post, you said “We change them with the votes of our dollars–our food purchasing dollars…”. I think the issue of health disparity and health inequality arises here… regardless their intention or hope, the “have-nots” won’t be able to exert any influence on this matter because they don’t any other choice but to keep buying cheaper food products.
    Would there be any way to make the grocery stores to be involved in this effort instead of only encouraging consumers to spend their dollars in a differently way? I think if we (consumers) can have grocery stores, especially the huge ones like Kroger, Giant Eagle (just to name a few), on our side, the change will be a lot easier and faster.

  4. lee says:

    (I just realized that I misspelled a word in my previous comment. I meant to write “health inequity” not “health inequality”.)

  5. Heather says:

    I have also watched Jamie Oliver’s food revolution. The information you presented is interesting especially about the ‘dead sea’. Most fast food places use a large amount of salt. Until reading your article, I never would have thought about how too much salt could hurt my health.

    From the programs I have watched of Jamie Oliver, I know he is pushing healthy cooking. It’s amazing, because in today’s society so many people depend on fast food or a quick meal. People working 40 to 80 hours a week don’t tend to take the time for their health. In Jamie Oliver’s program, he points out the information about how bad some of these foods are for your health and how much better you are, when you eat correctly.

  6. Larry says:

    I really like the message that Jaime Oliver is getting across to America. Unfortunately, it can be hard to eat healthy when both time and money are limited. When I was a freshman I gained a little bit of weight by going out to eat three times every day. The food tasted great and was made fast, but the adverse effects on my health were becoming apparent. The following year I decided to go all gung-ho and make my own healthy meals from now on: that lasted for about three weeks.

    They make it look so easy in those cooking shows, but there is so much involved that happens behind the scenes. You have to shop, cook, and clean before you can eat. I ended up spending so much time and money with making my meals every day that I started to fall behind in my studies. That is why I think it is important for people to take small steps when changing their diets. If you try too much too fast you’re going to burn yourself out. If public health campaigns spent more time on telling people how to SLOWLY improve their diets the campaigns would be more effective. I now make a healthy meal twice a week and am about to start making it three times a week.

  7. Paige Leathers says:

    I recently joined a fitness club when I made vacation plans to visit Miami. When I joined the facility my plan was to eat two small meals per day and work out twice per day in order to burn all of the calories I gained when eating. In high school, I was a size 2; however, I am now a size 8. I do not think I am fat, nevertheless, it is sometimes hard to get used to my new weight. I began working with a personal trainer and he explained that my fitness plan was very unhealthy and that it is important to eat when trying to lose weight because your body needs energy in order to build up metabolism.
    I think that a lot of people would rather have a nice physical appearance versus having a healthy body. The media is a major reason in which many people develop eating disorders and being extremely conscious of their appearance. Celebrity diets are leaked by the media on a weekly basis, however, many of them seem to be unhealthy and extreme.
    I agree with article, more emphasis needs to be placed on healthy eating habits. I think by putting healthy foods on display in the stores just as junk food is displayed could be the beginning of a change.
    We talked about health disparities in class, and we learned that healthy foods are not always readily available in certain areas. Therefore, it is important that local grocery stores try to remain stocked with healthy foods in order for this change to occur.

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  9. Diet Man says:

    I come here everyday for new advice =]

  10. Dieting Girl says:

    I need a good diet =(

  11. Diet Advisor says:

    I’ll show this to my friend =)

  12. Diet Chick says:

    I liked it =]

  13. phobia says:

    Self Health Revolution – What the Government, and FDA doesn’t want you to know.

  14. admin says:

    There is a link at the top of the post page… click there… if it doesn’t work, let me know. best, rp

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