Is The “American Dream” Blocking Your Healthy Lifestyle?

DreamPlease bear with me for the next several weeks. My schedule has not allowed me to post articles or recipes as often as I usually do. Have no fear I will soon be back up to speed. I am working on an interview I did with Queen Afua, several book reviews and more so stay tuned.

Anyway, the other day I was running around town shopping for our organic produce and other ingredients needed in our live food diet. Even though I started off by eating before I left home, by the time I got towards the end of my rounds and contemplated what we would eat that afternoon I ended up deciding to pick up something we could eat quick once I got home.

Fortunately I did choose wisely and purchased some fresh guacamole and salsa to go with the veggies I have at home. Other times we have resorted to frozen or deli items that are vegan but not raw and often are soy based or fried and lead to bingeing and a downward spiral of eating more of what we don't want.

I started to think about our so-called American Dream lifestyle that is really more of a Global Nightmare. I thought about those whose commitment to eating vegan or raw is not as intrenched or is nonexistent who make much less healthy choices then we do. For too many of us the fast food, restaurant, frozen food, eat mindlessly while driving or watching TV method of feeding ourselves is the norm. This Nightmare is impacting the health of people of Afrikan descent especially. It is leading us down the path of chronic disease, obesity, disability and early death.

I call it a Global Nightmare because our consumption and buying into the American Dream concept keeps us over extended and harms not only us but the world as a whole. Communities the world over, particularly in communities of color, have lost their sustainable ways of living as Big Business exploits their cheap labor, destroys their local businesses, their environment, and replaces their local food and products with big business produced products. To learn more about how this is impacting Afrika watch The Great African Scandal.

What is fueling this? 

Number one is that we have been sold the idea that having more stuff will make us happy. Our economy is based on it. This means we have to work harder, longer, at jobs we may not even enjoy to get that stuff. (If you haven't seen this video called the Story of Stuff please check it out.) This leads to number two.

Number two is that we are moving further and further away from any connection to what real food is and how it gets on our plates (and in our bellies). Very few of us grow any of our own food anymore. And more and more people rarely if ever make anything from scratch. It's frozen, boxed, canned, bottled or already made and ready to eat.

Number three is that we are also fed a constant stream of advertisements for that aforementioned stuff on TV, radio, billboards, magazines and just about everywhere you look. Big Business wants to be sure that we continue to willingly consume the food like substances as well as all the other stuff our Global Nightmare life has promised.

Those of us who have made the decision to eat healthy and live a more healthy lifestyle have to work very hard. It may feel like there are triggers and road blocks all around you getting in your way.

In order to stay on track we may need to do the following.

Re-define the dream. Take time to reflect on what YOU want out of your life. What will really make you happy? Is it really more stuff, more money? Or is it something else instead? Do this as a family if possible. Then look at what changes need to be made in order to make that possible. Make a plan to make it real.

Live simply. Get rid of some of that accumulated stuff. Think twice (or three times) about buying more. Buy second-hand if you can. Reduce what you consume so that you can slow down your run in the rat race and take time to enjoy your life and your family.

Reconnect with your food. Grow a garden. Shop at a farmers market. Make more of your food from scratch. Buy fresh not frozen, canned etc. Get the kids involved in the kitchen. Reinstate family dinners every night or as often as possible if your family has gotten away from them. Reserve restaurants for special occasions. Take time to really pay attention to and enjoy what you are eating. That means no eating in front of the TV or while driving.

Turn OFF the TV. Recognize TV for what it is. Mind control. Turn it off. Or at least reduce your TV time. Especially for  kids. Mute the advertisements. Talk to your kids about advertisers and try to analyze what they are seeing. (This will help you too.) How much does what they show in that ad actually look like what you get? That kid really looks like he's having fun with that toy. Do you think he really is or is he just pretending for the camera? What does that term "All Natural" really mean? (Nothing).

Identify what triggers your mindless or grab and go eating or sets up roadblocks to your healthy intentions. Is it skipping lunch? Not bringing food with you when you go out for the day? Being too tired to make food? Watching TV at night? Use your food journal to keep note of what you observe. Then develop a plan to short-circuit or prevent these triggers in the future.

You may believe that what you choose to eat or choose not to eat is simply a matter of personal choice or will power. But much more is involved in how we decide to feed ourselves. Looking at the big picture can help you find balance and take more control over your steps towards living a healthier lifestyle.

What do you think? Does this make sense?

Tell us about your triggers and roadblocks and how you plan to manage them in the future.

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Ama Opare
Lifestyle Coach, CEO at Opare Institute
Supporting you by bringing you flavorful and satisfying vegan and raw vegan recipes, inspiration and online training and one-on-one coaching to help LOVE YOUR VEGAN LIFE! I am an educator and revolutionary who has teamed up with my physician/dietitian husband, Nana Kwaku Opare, MD, MPH, CA, to address the growing health problems in the Afrikan/Black community by building a Nation of Black Vegetarians and Vegans.

6 comments on “Is The “American Dream” Blocking Your Healthy Lifestyle?

  1. My Road Block or Trigger would have been late night eating. My solution to this was to go to bed earlier and 4hrs before bed I would eat a handful of almonds and water.I not only sleep better but my blood sugars are lower. I never eat when I’m upset . Through practice I’ve learned not only what my triggers are and how to overcome them with practice and being mindful not willpower.

  2. Very thought provoking article. The two videos illustrate clearly the connection to what we buy and the impact it has globally and environmentally. It also shows the wisdom of our indigenous African ancestors who did not live in such a parasitic fashion as Western nations routinely do. It is amazing to think of the millions of years Africans have been on the planet but this global warming thing is a very recent problem that has come about and was created by Western civilizations. It shows me that, even though we are living in a Western country (US), we can still take steps to not be so influenced by it and live more in accord with and respectful of the Earth and other people, as our ancestors did. As someone who is new to eating a more vegetarian diet, I can say that it changes how I think about animal products (food and otherwise). Now that I’m on this path, I very much like the changes that I see in myself on many levels, not just the food I eat and the health benefits. It creates a certain thoughtfulness of other aspects of life that before, I never considered.

  3. Excellent solution-based blog entry! You not only identified the issues, but you explain how they gain traction, then offered methods to combat them and incorporate healthier habits which are workable in our daily lives. I will share this and thank you!

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