Rethinking What You Know About Malnutrition
When you consider the health problems affecting the United States, obesity probably tops the list of concerns. While obesity is a serious epidemic among Americans, it may come as a surprise that in the wake of all this excess weight gain, many adults are actually malnourished. This is the case because the American diet has evolved away from fresh and healthy whole foods toward processed foods that are rich in calories without much nutritional value. An individual’s weight will likely tell you very little about that person’s health, and it is possible that someone who is significantly overweight is actually lacking in some key nutrients. Alternatively, living within a healthy weight range is also not a strong indicator of health. If you are not supplementing your diet with the right foods to achieve balanced nutrition, your health can suffer substantially, even if that doesn’t show on the scale. To further your understanding of the growing trend of malnourishment among American adults, teens, and kids, take a look at the key facts below so that you can start thinking more about the food you put in your body.
Malnutrition can affect anyone
Malnutrition is a term that might put a distinctive image in your head, but the truth is that anyone of any body type can be malnourished. Someone who is underweight might actually eat a perfectly balanced diet, while an overweight individual could be struggling with nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, it is more important to look out for signs of malnourishment beyond body weight. If you are consistently fatigued or lethargic, have frequent digestive discomfort, feel bloated after meals, have brittle hair and nails, or often get sick, it is likely that your diet needs some tweaking.
Not all calories are alike
Switching from a diet of processed, nutritionally-deficient foods to a diet of wholesome choices rich in fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins is easier said than done. Unfortunately, processed foods have the advantage over healthier options, because they are designed to be incredibly addictive. You may be hard pressed to find prepackaged food options that aren’t loaded with excess salt, fat, and sugar without much else of substance. Even foods labeled as “healthy” or “natural” options can’t stand up to their whole food counterparts. Plus, the convenience of prepared foods can be just as much of a temptation, since busy schedules can limit time spent grocery shopping, cooking, and sitting down to eat. Still, it is possible to make smarter food choices with limited resources. You can take some shortcuts with foods like pre-cooked rice, chopped vegetables from the produce aisle, or one-pot recipes that reduce cooking and cleanup time. Even still, you will face challenges as you steer away from junk food and highly processed meals. Because these foods have so many things that our bodies crave, you might have a strong urge to relapse into unhealthy eating habits right away. If you stick with it, however, and keep making healthy choices, it will become clear just how bad junk food makes you feel when you do indulge.
If you often find that you just don’t feel your best, discussing your diet with a MeMD provider can be a good start on the path to better nutrition. Our medical team is available any time to care for you day or night, whether you need a prescription refill, sound dietary advice, or a cure for the common cold.