Last Monday, we had a guest speaker that came to our class named Justin McGonigal who works at MUSC and specializes in nutrition. When he came to our classroom he discussed sustainable nutrition, which tied into what we were learning in class regarding food and food safety. The speaker started off discussing the #1 chronic disease killer in the United States, which is heart disease. He was discussing how most people don’t even know they have heart disease symptoms and the age to start being concerned about it is now because of all of the “bad” food we are eating. He then showed us pictures of himself in college when he was extremely overweight from lack of exercise and eating poorly. Once he graduated college he decided he wanted to make a change and he decided to change to a whole-food, plant based diet, and after that he shredded pounds. Now, he is at a very healthy weight and he is blessing his body by consuming copious amounts of healthy foods. After he showed the class his initial body change, he discussed how whole food, plant-based diets can prevent and reverse the #1 killer: Heart Disease. All people have to do is eat a well balanced diet and incorporate adequate amount of exercise into their daily routine, which seems pretty easy, so why isn’t America following this? Well, Americans have a diet they love which is high in protein and processed foods, otherwise known as the Western Diet. Americans consume little to no fruits and vegetables daily, and have a diet high in fat, animal protein, and sugar foods. All we have to do is educate individuals on how powerful food can be to our bodies. He then talked about how eating healthier can not only help individuals physically, but mentally as well. Just by adding more plant based foods into your diet you will be in a better mood, not be as stressed, and will have more energy. Most individuals who follow this Western diet tend to feel more sluggish because the food they are eating does not provide enough sustainable energy to get them through the day, like fruits, vegetables, and legumes do. After his presentation all of this information he then discussed minor setbacks from obtaining a whole-food plant based diet that the class brought up. The first limitation a classmate brought up was money and how healthier foods are more expensive. The guest speaker stated that a lot of individuals tend to think that but rice is very cheap, you can get bags of rice for just a couple of bucks, beans are cheap, so are potatoes, and certain fruits and vegetables, you just have to choose wisely when grocery shopping. One classmate said how hard it would be for them to switch to a diet like this. He stated to not jump into it, you have to gradually go into it. He said when he started, instead of consuming meat daily, he consumed it once or twice a week and then after a while he just lost the taste for meat. He also stated for us to focus on what you can have and not what you can’t. This guest speaker’s lecture was very inspiring by him showing us his own body change just from altering his diet to plant-based. Eating like he does, also benefits the environment by lessening his ecological footprint. After his lecture, and listening to what we learned in class, I really am trying to lessen my intake of meats and processed foods, and add more vegetables and fruits into my diet.
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