Eating Habits and Culture
by Ron Kurtus (revised 6 April 2012)
Various countries and areas within them have different attitudes on diet. In the United States, the attitude toward healthy food is generally higher in California than in other states, such as Wisconsin, where the local culture seems to emphasize an unhealthy, high-fat diet.
Although many people are aware that their diet is unhealthy, the problem is that old habits die hard. It takes a lot to change attitudes on what to eat, espcially if the local culture has not yet adapted to healthy diets.
Questions you may have about this are:
- Why should I care, if it tastes good?
- What are the attitude differences?
- Why don't people change?
This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer
Avoiding health problems
Are you interested in maintaining your health and avoiding the major illnesses or maladies that plague people as they get older, such as heart attacks? Many people are concerned about their health, but they don't really take care of themselves.
For example, I know of several people who have heart attacks or by-pass surgery but yet continue eating the same foods that contributed to their problems. You might wonder why they would continue to eat that way.
I feel that a reason is that old habits die hard, especially when it comes to eating. The culture of the area is also an influence on the way people think. The following illustrates those points.
Examples in my family
I've seen several examples of the attitude toward diet in my own family.
California uncle gets message
When my uncle on my mother's side of the family had a heart attack at the age of 52, he made a change in his lifestyle. He quit smoking, and his wife made sure he watched his diet, avoiding the type of foods that caused cholesterol. He was fortunate to not get another heart attack until he died at 78. He also lived in California, where people are more food and health conscious.
Milwaukee uncle eats fat
On the other hand my uncle from my father's side has had two by-pass operations, but yet at a family picnic here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin he is eating fatty bratwursts, and his wife serves a creamy, cheese covered casserole. Good grief! Talk about cholesterol city!
Wisconsin is cholesterol state
Speaking of cholesterol city, the state foods of Wisconsin are cheese and bratwurst. When I was a kid no one ever ate bratwurst, but now everyone here eats it. Bratwurst essentially is a hot dog with gritty fat and spices added. Wisconsin ranks as one of the fattest state in America. I don't know how it ranks in heart attacks, though, but I'm sure it is up there.
Old habits and culture are the problems
You wonder why people continue to eat fatty cholesterol-laden foods, especially if they have had heart problems. One reason is that old habits die hard. If you are used to making and eating a certain type of food, it is difficult to change to something that may not taste as good as what you have been used to.
Another reason not to stop concerns the culture of the area. Wisconsin people just don't seem to be as health conscious when it comes to food as people in other parts of the United States. Emphasizing brats as the greatest thing to eat sends a message that it is good to eat.
Of course, not everyone keeps the old, unhealthy eating habits of their ancestors. Not everyone in Wisconsin eats fatty food, just like not everyone in California eats low-fat food. But I have seen enough people doing such things to make those generalizations.
Although we live in Wisconsin, we still try to avoid fatty foods and to maintain a healthy diet. You should too.
Be healthy, wealthy and wise
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