Bringing light to the eating habits of Estonians, how do you measure against the norm?
There’s a myriad of resources, both online and available through more classical methods like books, geared towards helping you lead a healthy and sustainable life. With how much information is readily available to people you would think most people have quite healthy lifestyles right? Well as it turns out, so do they. The average person feels confident that their eating habits promote physical wellness and are diverse. However, a 2014 study reveals that people don’t quite know just what they’re putting into their body.
The classic food pyramid consists of 6 sections in order of quantity. The first five of these sections contain food the average person should be eating every week if not every day. The sixth and final section, commonly referred to as “snacks”, is made up of food that is not only unnecessary but potentially harmful to the human body if consumed in large amounts. This food pyramid design has existed for quite a while, and you have no doubt seen it in either school, the internet, a doctor’s office or a health magazine.
The average person doesn’t follow this guide as closely as they might think, above is an illustration comparing the recommended daily intake for an adult and the actual foods they choose to eat. The study that produced this image was a questionnaire of roughly a thousand Estonian adults whose daily calorie intake lies within 1800-2200 kcal (although the study did include significantly more women than men). As you can see, the average Estonian consumes a disproportionately high amount of meat and other fatty products, with the worst offender being sugary snacks and soft drinks, pushing over 6 times the recommended daily intake. On the opposite end of the spectrum we see an incredibly low amount of the basic foods the human body needs to survive. A low intake of both grain products and vegetables means the average person is starved of fiber and is making up for a significant lack of carbohydrates with aforementioned sugary drinks and snacks. Ironically enough, the only food from the plant section Estonians actually eat enough of are the sweet fruits that they likely eat to try and reduce their intake of more unhealthy sweets (considering how much sugary drinks and foods they already consume, it’s scary to think what would happen if these fruits weren’t as readily available as they are). To top it all off, the foods that seem to be eaten in their recommended quantities are quite deceptively still a danger. Milk products may be consumed avidly but the most popular of them are all heavily sweetened, undermining their value as a healthy food.
As years go by many people still hope for change. Unfortunately these people often do nothing to actually make that change themselves. As Gandhi once said: “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. The first step to tackling any problem is to look at yourself and think about how you’re contributing to it. Some people have already taken the first step to improving their lives, what about you?