Do we really need to be told that we should eat more healthful foods and get more exercise?
Are we, as typical Americans, really so dumb that we don’t know this?
Maybe we do know it. Maybe we just choose to ignore it.
A front page story this week reveals a new plan to help get Faribault County residents to have healthier lives. It is part of a series of grants from the new SHIP group. (SHIP stands for Statewide Health Improvement Program.)
The federal government has some money involved in this, which has gotten into Minnesota’s hands. From there, it has funneled out across the state, and to our area; specifically a coalition of Faribault, Martin and Watonwan counties.
So far, it looks like they are targeting the schools, the communities and the 4-H program, with a series of grants to get things going. They have hired a coordinator and have spent half a year just getting organized.
At first I was a little skeptical. The problem is obvious. Americans, in general, are not living healthy lifestyles.
The solution, too, seems obvious. Eat less, eat healthy, don’t smoke, and get more exercise.
We all know that, don’t we?
Then why are most of us not doing it? Is it laziness, indifference or a lack of time?
Perhaps it is the impetus we need, not the knowledge.
How many of us have so much going on that it is easy to put in a frozen pizza or some other packaged meal than actually buy real food and cook it?
Is it easier to just go out to eat than cook at home?
Or, worse yet, hit the drive-through on the way to or from taking the kids to their game, dance class or practice?
How many of us start an exercise program, but drop it after a few weeks?
Maybe we join a health club, or buy a treadmill. Perhaps we vow to start going out for walks each day.
But then, other things crop up which need our attention, and the exercise plans get put on the back burner.
The group promoting this new program says a goal is to teach people how to live healthier. They are targeting both youth and adults with these ideas.
And yes, eating habits, not smoking and exercise are definitely on the list.
Some are pretty simple proposals, such as the idea of eating more fruits and vegetables. Some are more complex, such as learning how to read nutrition labels on food packaging, and understanding what it means. Then making wise choices.
In the schools it is more than offering healthful food. They already do that. It is getting the kids to eat it.
A trip to the Blue Earth Area Elementary lunchroom last week was a case in point. The main dish was a slice of pizza, but there was also salad, vegetables, and canned and fresh fruit in the serving line.
The problem is that the kids all had a choice of what they took. And there was a wide range – from the boy who took everything, to a girl who took very little. It looked like half took some fruit or vegetables, and half the students took only one or none.
They almost all took milk, however.
It also was obvious that a lot of food was still on the trays when they were dumped.
It will be interesting to see the results of this new program, and whether they can make a difference in the lives of county residents and students.
It all starts with a kick-off banquet on June 1, which is free to the first 125 community members who sign up. Maybe you should think about signing up to go and check it out.
After all, it is a free meal. But you need to sign up by May 21. Call the Community Ed office for more information.
Maybe you will learn something, and perhaps you’ll get that impetus to change and start living a healthier lifestyle.
At the very least, you’ll enjoy some good, healthful food.
After all, I would assume the dinner is not being catered by a fast-food chain.