Many factors have contributed to the deterioration of what is considered to be a healthy diet. Malnutrition and infectious diseases like the plague, tuberculosis, and other infections scourged the world for centuries. In addition, inadequate education, lack of time, overeating, the introduction and popularity of unhealthy fast foods, and a decrease in physical activity have all contributed to the rise in overweight and obesity today.
Furthermore, unlike our Greek ancestors, people today practice diets for different reasons. Diets are followed, more often than not, to lose weight, and to lower the risk of chronic diseases as well as alleviate medical conditions (diabetes, high triglycerides or cholesterol). Modern diets are, for many people, considered to be short-term solutions rather than one component of many that contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
"Today, more often than not, people view a diet as temporary fix," Lara-Pantin says, “When in actuality, positive changes in eating habits should be followed for a lifetime."
A journey back to the basics
Government agencies, public and private institutions, and scientific organizations around the world have been making an effort to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy diet, and physical activity.
"Our society currently has a lot of interest in eating well and exercising," says Lara-Pantin. Programs like MyDiet™ play an important role in educating people on the importance of healthy eating and doing physical activity.
Because of the growing interest in leading a healthy lifestyle, large food companies are now providing nutrition information on labels, and restaurants are incorporating healthier food choices into their menus.
"We want to raise people’s awareness," Lara-Pantin explains. “There is no longer an excuse for bad eating habits.” We need to ensure that we balance the use of modern-day luxuries, like computers, TVs and cars, with eating healthy and making time to be physically active.
"Physical activity shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment," explains the MyDiet expert, "it should be enjoyable." Physical activity contributes greatly to our spiritual well-being. People who follow a healthy diet and exercise routinely, tend to have a more positive outlook on life, and are, in general, more happy than those who don't."
Happiness, which can be achieved through a healthy diet and a good exercise program, will bring us closer to the spirit of those ancient Olympiads who celebrated health, fitness and mental well-being.
* From the DrTango editorial staff
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