An Independence and International-NJFD Tuesday

September 15 marks the Independence Day of several countries in Latin America.  Last week the date fell on a Tuesday, and it will be several years before a NJFD Tuesday and this Independence Day coincide again.  The date also marked the last day of i-NJFDer Laura's journey through 31 days of eating no added sugar in honor of loved ones who suffered from diabetes complications.  I am sharing a portion of Laura's last post here because it beautifully sums up one of the reasons International No Junk Food Day is an international effort.    

September 15 - Laura's post of meals on Day 31 of her No Added Sugar Diabetes Awareness Tribute

I requested no cheese [at dinner] but the request never made it... so I scraped off the cheese and enjoyed my Pinto beans, and more importantly celebrated Mexican Independence Day! Viva! This post official concludes my 31 days of no added sugar in honor of family members that have passed away from diabetes. [....] Thanks to all of you who inquired, commented and supported my tribute. I have learned much along the way. I will continue to eat no sugar added for the most part, but I will enjoy sugar periodically and in moderation, as it should be. I will post every week to continue to provide tidbits of info, as I am a scientist. I have conducted research in the fields of cancer, diabetes, immunology, and basic mechanisms of gene regulation throughout my career, but it does not take a scientist to gather that minority populations are affected disproportionately by diseases like diabetes. My tribute is dedicated to my grandmother who died from diabetic complications when I was ten. She was born in Mexico City and came to the US, in the 50s and was an amazing cook. I hope she would approve of my tribute in efforts to raise diabetes awareness. Happy NJFD Tuesday!
— Laura

Because Laura is a scientist, her statement that it does not take a scientist to know that minority populations are disproportionately affected by diseases related to food truly struck a chord with me.  We rely on scientists for many things, and we should.  But what if, instead of eating what the studies, government, and food companies tell us to eat, we paid closer attention to how our bodies react to food when eating?   

In 2013, Mexico surpassed the U.S. in obesity levels, reportedly due to an increased consumption of processed snacks consumption and drinks.  For the many of us who do not eat "snacks" or sugary drinks, added sugar, fat, and salt in so-called "healthy" and other products that are either eaten alone or together with whole foods are also likely culprits of the epidemic in Mexico, the U.S., and all over the world.  According to U.S. News & World Report, "the number of overweight and obese people increased from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013," representing "an increase of more than 145 percent."

Food that is fast and high in sugar, fat and salt is marketed to consumers all across the globe.  And many of us do not realize how these foods affect us.  Because knowledge is power, the purpose of International No Junk Food Day is to share information about food, and strategies for making healthy eating as easy and affordable as possible.  We are each responsible for discerning the mix of foods that serves our bodies best every day, yet many of us don't know what fiber is, why we get hungry, how ingredients affect our moods and bodies, and whether eating a nut bar full of a number of other ingredients is "healthy."  

International No Junk Food Day strives to draw attention to many of the health issues that are tethered to food.  In addition, part of its purpose is to learn about how people from a variety of cultures and traditions worldwide think about food and what they eat.  Efforts are also made to share substantive information about the nutrition certain foods offer.  At the very least, i-NJFD is available to you as a reason (or excuse) to eat well (i.e., more vegetables and whole foods than average, no junk) on one day or several in the year.  Let's continue inspiring each other to make time for enjoying traditional whole foods that are tasty, nutritious, filling, and made with love.     

Thank you to Laura for participating in the 31 day no added sugar diabetes awareness campaign and sharing her journey!  Senator Cory Booker has committed to continue eating added sugar free through the end of the year.  Anyone else up for joining?  How about just for one NJFD Tuesday?!  Healthy habits always start with one day.