Better Health Requires Good Sense


These donuts recently headlined a newspaper story in which the dietitian author described an email exchange. The e-mailer had proposed the concept of using “food only as fuel” as a way to overcome food addiction.

The dietitian “respectfully disagreed” and then disparaged the “food as fuel” approach as diminishing the intrinsic pleasure of food.

In this blog, I develop the reasons we should temper our romantic illusions about unhealthy food,  similar to our restraint in offering our favorite wine to a recovering alcoholic.

The incidence of extreme obesity in US adults has skyrocketed from less than one in a hundred in 1960 to nearly one in twelve in 2016. This is an unbelievably tragic loss of health.

Extolling the pleasures of unhealthy food “in moderation” in the midst of this epidemic seems unkind for those suffering the consequences of a toxic food environment. “Toxic?” you might ask. Yes.

Just six Devil’s Food Cake Doughnuts pack enough calories to satisfy a woman’s daily energy needs. These six donuts also contain twice her maximum allowance for saturated fat. However to achieve her daily requirement for protein, she would need to eat fifteen donuts.

This measly nutritional value of donuts is unlikely a surprise to anyone. However, it is sobering to learn that despite our sincere desire for health, on average Americans eat two donuts a day.1

The challenge of making good decisions in the midst of our high fat and high sugar cornucopia is significant, but not impossible. Let me share one woman’s success.

Ann is a 70 year-old woman who had suffered for years with joint pain, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Although she had previously failed with numerous diets, over the last two years she has turned her life around. She is off all medicines, has shed her excess pounds, and feels fantastic!

Ann contributes her success to a fundamental change in mindset. With this change she overcame her inner turmoil around food.

Before the mindset change, she felt enslaved to the multiple environmental factors that triggered overeating. She now views food “only as fuel and not as a way to celebrate or to wallow”.  

Ann has been able to substitute her previous total desperation concerning food with the intrinsic joy of eating. She celebrates her renewed health and finds it so much more rewarding than the momentary high of one hit of salt, sugar, and fat after another.


Two thousand years ago, the Roman citizen Publilius Syrus wrote, “Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings.”

In a world where marketing screams – “You can eat whatever you want and still be healthy” – good sense gets crowded out.

A modern Publilius might suggest, “The blessing of good sense is good health”.

It’s worth reflecting how we might change our food environment to extend a sincere “bless you” to all those who come into our lives.

Breakthrough To Better,

1The average American eats 63 dozen donuts a year by Elizabeth Large


Switch Conversations designs healthcare solutions for self-insured employers.




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