Straight Talk Advice

Nov 20, 2012

Brother’s “disgusting” diet worries Sis

Dear Straight Talk: I am 21, my little brother is 15. We are very close. The problem is he lives with our dad and my dad and his wife aren't food conscious like my mom, who shops organic. They let him eat candy, fast food, and drink Cokes on a daily basis. He has developed psoriasis, intestinal problems, food allergies and is becoming overweight, all within a couple of years. I am polite when I visit, but I try not to eat there because the food is honestly disgusting, and mostly genetically modified. How can I get through to them, or at least him, not to eat this kind of food? It hurts me to see his health going downhill. — "Foodie for Life", Sacramento

Leah 20, Yuba City, Calif. Ask me a question

You say you are close, so talk to him! Make him aware that his diet is ruining his health and will impact the rest of his life. Avoid the “disgusting” word and tell Dad you appreciate the food he supplies, but that you are following a nutritional program. Give him some options of items you can eat. Tell him your worries about your brother. Suggest small changes first, like switching ranch for vinaigrette. Ask if you can cook a meal so they know healthy can taste good.

Taylor 15, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

I'm in the same position. My mom shops consciously while Dad fills his house with junk. I watch my brother consume not only too much food, but also processed and GM foods — which I think should be illegalized. I'd like to step in, but I'm worried it will go the wrong way. Instead, talk about healthy versus unhealthy food and set a good example.

Brennan 19, Colorado Springs, Colo. Ask me a question

Most young people at college aim to eat healthy. Try the phrase, “Think organic food is expensive? Try paying for cancer.” One should always keep future health costs in mind when selecting food.

Kira 20, Moraga, Calif. Ask me a question

I'm with you, junk food is disgusting. I'm learning so much from my nutrition class. Try and get through to your brother. He may not realize that what he's putting in his body is making him overweight. It amazes me how oblivious some people are about food. Regarding genetically modified food, I'm all for labeling laws.

Gregg 21, Los Angeles Ask me a question

Our generation does want higher quality food. I'm on my own financially and still do all my shopping from a natural food store. However, some nights, especially if I'm drinking, I crave really horrible fast food!

Colin 19, Los Angeles Ask me a question

Genetically-modified food is suspected of causing everything from cancer to diabetes, but there is no proof. You don't start eating GM food and kiss your health goodbye. Health fundamentals are the same as they've always been: eat balanced healthy meals and EXERCISE. Fast food, candy, Cokes: not part of this equation.

Ryann 15, Tustin, Calif. Ask me a question

As an athlete, I believe firmly in “healthy diet, healthy exercise, healthy life.” While GM food is occasionally okay, an organic diet is best. Point out the high rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes due to food choices.

Dear Foodie: I've seen parents switch to organic foods based on their kid's healthier preferences, which do often develop in college. You have nothing to lose by expressing your preferences — except cancer, heart disease and diabetes, humanity's top killers. (Death by food.)

Proceed with love. If you've built resentment toward Dad's food scene, this will require an internal shift. (Yay! You get to change, too!) Plus, brother sounds like a junior food addict. Extra love needed there. All said, positive peer pressure is your best bet for influencing healthy change, so go for it.

Editor's Note: Whaddayaknow, Hostess Brands is out of business — right on cue with this week's column. No more Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho Ho's. The Mayans were right, it's the end of the world as we know it.

I maintain that 95 percent of health problems are diet related. Even stress-related problems. If breakfast consists of a bowl of sugary cereal, a candy bar, (or delicious Ho Ho) — or a Starbucks or Go Girl — (all of the above being alarming morning fare for an alarming number of teens), of course your endocrine system will red line when you bomb a test or don't hear from that guy you met last weekend. 

I'm continually heartened by the droves of young people insisting on organic, natural and slow food. Many are entering farming and culinary fields. The discovered ideal traditional diets found in living action by Weston Price are bubbling to awareness in a world of food fads.

Regarding genetically-modified foods, the obscene levels of pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics these crops require (and encourage) makes them the anti-health-food mutant arm of agriculture. And the Law of Unintended Consequences has never given a free lunch. Slicing foreign genetic material into plants is very different than breeding and hybridizing among existing genetic material, like the "father of genetics," Gregor Mendel, did. By the way, Mendel was a monk. No one will ever say that about Monsanto.

Sadly food is big business. What we eat, or refuse to eat, controls the market. It has also become politicized. When 'breaking bread' together, let's proceed with love. In human relations, sunshine always wins over stormy weather in inspiring change. Plus the earth is already dishing up those storms. To our health, both personal and planetary. —Lauren

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  1. By SuzyK-Coach, age, from Novato on 11/24/2012

    I love all the comments, they are right on. So many people are waking up to food as medicine or poison…you choose. I like to teach people the workings of the digestive tract or the liver, for example. Seems when you fully understand what is happening when you eat junk, then it manifests in your appearance, it’s easier to say no next time. Lauren said it all, thank you!

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