Becoming Healthier One Monday at a Time
Success or failure of any program involves establishing a workable routine. While Monday has traditionally been the dreaded start of the work and school weeks, it offers a uniquely motivational schedule for the fight against obesity. Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests beginning each week on a healthy note gives us a memorable occasion to get back on track for health – 52 times a year.
For this reason, Johns Hopkins and over 25 other major colleges nationwide have become part of a non-profit health campaign called “Meatless Monday”, promoting a healthier start to the week. Unlike a diet scheme, this does not require an all-or-nothing commitment. It is simply a means of becoming more health-aware and remembering to continually work toward self-improvement. Those looking to better their health should not feel constrained to annual resolutions; Monday can be a day to start fresh every week.
One day is 15 percent of the week and this coincides with the 15 percent reduction in saturated fat as recommended by the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines. Therefore, if meat was removed from the menu just one day a week, it would be an important step in preventing heart disease, stroke, and other health problems related to obesity.
Unfortunately, the average American consumes an average of 194 pounds of meat over the course of year, 16 pounds more than 30 years ago according to a 2001 USDA study. AHA dietary guidelines suggest that bringing saturated fat levels back to a reasonable amount could be achieved in part by decreasing meat intake by only 15 percent. This is not a condemnation of beef, pork, and chicken, but it is a call for moderation and for an expansion of entrée options.
Not only will decreasing meat consumption make people healthier, it could also make them feel happier since a nutritionally balanced diet brings satisfaction. Decreasing saturated fat intake offers an achievable way to improve quality of life which leads to a more active and energizing lifestyle. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” meaning better dietary choices will improve mind, body and soul. The current average intake of saturated fat in America is increasingly bad for the heart and builds cholesterol that clogs arteries. Cleansing the body of this unhealthy excess is an excellent first step toward self-improvement.
Because of the epidemic proportions obesity is reaching in America, the goal of lowering saturated fat nationwide is now a necessity. Obesity is America ‘s second killer after heart attack: it causes an estimated 300,000 deaths a year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Despite these dangerous statistics, health problems attributed to obesity and poor nutrition are on the rise.
A 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 30.5 percent of Americans are obese and that number is always growing. The Meatless Monday campaign takes aim at this trend and its numerous related medical problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. One day could make all the difference in combating these risks by leading a healthier life and that day could be Monday. Suddenly, the dreaded first day of the work week is not sounding so bad!