What America Needs to do to Lose Weight

I recently left our San Jose Weight Loss Center in Sunnyvale, CA/ Silicon Valley to spent a few days in Iowa due to the loss of my mother-in-law. She lived 85 long years, didn’t suffer at the end, and was truly loved by her family and community. She came from a family of 11 children and many of her siblings had as many as 13 children. To say it was a large turn-out would be a huge understatement. And that’s just talking about family. Having been born and raised within several miles of where she spent her entire life, she knew, and was loved by, many people.

The Midwest is a friendly place. People are genuinely nice there. Not to condemn any other areas of the country, but coming from the heart of New York City, when I first met my husband I asked him if everyone from Iowa was as nice as he was. Why? Because he clearly stood out as one of the nicest, kindest men I’d ever met. And smart me, I married him!

To give you an idea of how kind people are, my niece broke the heel of her shoe the day of the wake (day before the funeral). She had only brought one pair of black shoes and needed it fixed before the funeral mass the following morning. She found a cobbler in town that opened at 8 a.m. which was perfect. When she arrived at the cobbler he told her he could have the shoe repaired in a couple of days. She quickly alerted him to the fact that she had a funeral to attend in 2 hours and would really appreciate anything he could do.

He knew it was my mother-in-law’s funeral, being a small town, and quickly agreed to help. While getting the shoe fixed, he reminisced with my niece how my mother-in-law used to bring all her FedEx packages to him. My niece was obviously curious how a cobbler could be confused with a FedEx office and asked him how this came to pass. He said that he had a FedEx account and had once offered to have my mother-in-law use it. After that she continued to bring each and every package to him—for years! She never had the contents boxed or packaged but simply brought whatever she wanted to send to one of her children or many grandchildren and he boxed it up and mailed it off for her. Amazing! Would that happen in most towns in this country? I don’t think so.
I Was Shocked to See What People Were Eating

So the people of Iowa are kind, but they are not healthy, sadly. I was upset to see what they ate and upset at the obesity I generally saw. According to American’s health rankings, the state ranks 18th. Certainly not horrible but it’s the lowest ranking Iowa has received during the 24 year history of the rankings being tallied.

In fact, in the early 1990s, the state had the honor of being one of the top 10 healthiest states in the union. Obviously something has changed. While smoking has decreased in the past year, 18% of adults still smoke, 700,000 are obese and more than 530,000 are physically inactive. Just in the past year diabetes has increased from 8% to almost 10% of adults.

What I noticed in the few days I was there was that eating habits are truly appalling. This may sound amazing but other than a token carrot or celery stick (that did not look that appealing), I didn’t see any vegetables consumed. There was pizza, white rolls with slices of American cheese, pulled pork with cheesy potatoes, hot dogs smothered in “loose meat” (the equivalent of a sloppy joe hot dog), and a lot of cookies and cakes.

There were also diet soft drinks and other beverages with artificial sweeteners, and of course, coffee. Besides when used to make coffee, I saw little to no water being consumed. I’m always surprised when people ask me if I just “abandon my healthy eating habits” when stuck in such situations. The answer is a resounding “No”.

I travel with protein bars, nuts, bananas, avocados, a couple of boxes of pasta and a loaf of gluten-free bread. From there I go to the grocery store and see what I can do. I was surprised that organic produce was nonexistent. It was nowhere to be found at the local grocery store (and yes, there was only one) and the vegetables offered were pretty sad looking. I got some eggs, a cauliflower, onions, garlic, eggplant, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. That was the extent of what seemed edible. Fortunately I like to cook and that got us through 3 dinners and 3 breakfasts with protein bars and nuts for lunch.
I Was Saddened to Realize How Sick They Were

As a clinical nutritionist and clinician at HealthNOW Weight Loss Center San Jose, it was sad to see so many sick people. Here are some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet—and they’re overweight, suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The kids had “allergy shiners” (darkness under the eyes indicative of allergies), eczema and were often congested and coughing.

Being in the heartland of Monsanto and all that GMO corn and soybeans, I had to wonder if the decrease in health status had anything to do with being surrounded by all that unhealthy farmland. Add that to enough gluten and sugar to inflame any human body and you certainly have the makings for all the major degenerative diseases that I saw occurring so abundantly.
Something Has to Change, But How?

How do you take a population that is so set in their ways of how they eat and change them? I think it’s got to come from education. I was talking to one of my sisters-in-law and she shared how she effortlessly lost 15 pounds the prior summer when she went on a high plant diet with a lot of home-made soups, vegetables, low meat, no sugar and very little to any grains. She said that she felt great and really enjoyed eating that way. And then she said that she’d gained it all back.

When I asked what happened, she mentioned that the holidays came and they just started eating their “old” way again and gained all the weight back. Most likely this is a common occurrence. Even for those who try a healthy diet, feel better and lose weight, they don’t continue with it. Why? It’s just laziness. It’s easier to go back to what they’ve always done. How do we get people to want to feel better more than they want to eat their “comfort food”? Ah, THAT is the 64 million dollar question!
My Tips for a Leaner and Healthier America:

  1. Get educated. You can read my blogs, watch my videos, visit Mercola.com, Dr. Mark Hyman, etc. There are many free sources of education that is accurate, cutting edge and will steer you in the right direction.

  2. Once you’ve gotten some education under your belt, sit down and make a decision to change your eating habits and lifestyle for 3 to 4 months. Don’t be reasonable about it. Get disciplined, decide to do it and follow through. It might be a good idea to have a friend or family member who is equally serious about getting healthier join you so that you can work together to support each other. How should you start? There’s no single perfect diet for everyone, but there are some basics truths when it comes to healthy and unhealthy eating.

  3. Eliminate all fast food, artificial ingredients, trans fats, diet sweeteners, prepackaged baked goods and prepackaged meats from your diet.

  4. Limit sugar consumption to perhaps a little dark chocolate as a treat, or some other dessert as an occasional treat that is homemade or has fresh healthy ingredients.

  5. Eliminate all dairy products.

  6. Eliminate all gluten.

  7. Avoid all GMO foods.

  8. Limit alcohol consumption.

  9. Eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day—preferably organic. But at least avoid “The Dirty Dozen” of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides and therefore unhealthy. For more information on this topic, visit other blogs on this site.

  10. Drink half your body weight in ounces of purified water each day.

  11. Avoid, or at least limit, the consumption of any animal protein that has been fed hormones, antibiotics or is grain-fed. Try to eat pasture raised eggs, free range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats and fish. Avoid large fish that tend to have high heavy metal content such as tuna and swordfish or any from the Atlantic Ocean.

  12. Consume good oil and fat such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, fresh nuts and seeds.

  13. Supplement with a strong multiple vitamin/mineral, fish oil and, if needed, vitamin D. (Many Americans are deficient in vitamin D.)

  14. Find an exercise that you’ll do and engage in at least 100 minutes of exercise per week.

  15. Learn to cook! There are many fun cooking TV shows and YouTube videos that will get you started. It’s a vital skill and one you should teach your children, spouse, family. A lot of fun can be had creating healthy food in the kitchen. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, I believe that it would easily put many Americans on the path to improved health and a slimmer waistline. We know that over-processed, hormone-laden, chemical-filled, antibiotic tainted “food” is NOT helping to create healthy bodies, quite the contrary. So movement in the direction of the above would be a great start.
    Do You Have Any of the Above Symptoms?

If you are suffering from any of the problems listed above—contact our Weight Loss Center San Jose for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. We are located in Sunnyvale, CA/ Silicon Valley. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!

To your health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”