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Thursday, Nov 27, 2014
Dr. OZ

Are you passing down your junk food habit?

Published:

BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.Almost 40 years ago, the song "Junk Food Junkie" told it like it is:

"When that clock strikes midnight/And I'm all by myself/ ... I pull out some Fritos corn chips, Dr Pepper and an ol' Moon Pie/Then I sit back in glorious expectation/Of a genuine junk-food high."

Decades later, North Americans still are addicted to high-fat, sugar-loaded treats -- and we're passing the craving from generation to generation. Pregnant moms who eat junk food give birth to kids with a built-in tolerance to these unhealthy, processed foods. That makes the little ones crave more and more fat and sugar to get the feel-good sensation these foods trigger. The result: kids who are overweight, pre-diabetic and depressed.

What do you do if you and your children are JFJs? Try our three steps to family freedom from junk-food follies.

1. Face it. Admit you have a problem and decide together that you want to solve it. Without resolve and mutual support, you'll all have a much harder time getting unhealthful food out of your diet.

2. Give up one indulgence a week: Do you regularly go for an un-happy meal? Cut it out: Eat home-cooked lean protein (salmon and trout), 100 percent whole grains and veggies in its place. Are you apt to buy yourself a candy bar on the weekends? Opt for a piece of fruit instead.

3. Increase your physical activity: Walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day will stimulate your feel-good brain chemicals and help make up for junk food's addictive buzz that you're giving up.

The average grab-it-and-get-back-to-your-desk lunch packs more than 800 calories; 34 percent of folks chow down more than 1,000 calories! And that's before they pile on a sugary beverage or a sweet treat (any added sugar or sugar syrup is a no-no). That's a formula for poor performance at work, weight gain, heart disease and dementia -- just a partial list of the problems you set yourself up for if you aren't joining the brown-bag revolution. (Some food revolutionaries have figured they save $47,000 in 10 years by taking their lunch to work!)

When you take your lunch to work with you, remember: Eat away from your desk, and stop working! That stretches out mealtime, which lets your "I'm full" hormone, leptin, kick in so you don't overeat. Start with six walnut halves at your desk as a snack 30 minutes before lunch. Then, eat with friends: Social interaction reduces stress and boosts everything from your work performance to your immune strength -- and helps make your RealAge younger!

What to take? Pack a protein: The baked chicken nuggets recipe at RealAge.com is tasty; canned salmon delivers calcium plus omega-3s. Add in: 100 percent whole-grain carbs (quinoa, brown rice), veggies (steamed broccoli or salad with red pepper, carrots, a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar); and a midafternoon pick-me-up of nonfat, no-sugar-added Greek yogurt with fresh berries. Tip: Keep healthy frozen meals in a fridge at work for days you can't pack lunch. More great lunchtime ideas are at RealAge.com and DoctorOz.com.


Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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