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Archive for Friday, November 20, 2009

Obesity activist crossing country to urge American Indians to embrace healthier diet

Terrol Johnson, center, speaks at Minoka Hall on Haskell Unversity's campus during the Harvest Food Festival to raise awareness of the obesity rate among American Indians.

Terrol Johnson, center, speaks at Minoka Hall on Haskell Unversity's campus during the Harvest Food Festival to raise awareness of the obesity rate among American Indians.

November 20, 2009

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Obesity activist crossing country to urge American Indians to embrace healthier diet

Terrol Dew Johnson has stopped in Lawrence during a 3,000-mile journey to raise awareness of the obesity rate among American Indians. Johnson started in Maine in June 2008 and is on his way home to Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. The reservation has the highest rate of adult-onset diabetes in the world with over half of the population suffering from the disease. Johnson, 37, is one of them. Enlarge video

Terrol Dew Johnson has stopped in Lawrence during a 3,000-mile journey to raise awareness of the obesity rate among American Indians.

Johnson started in Maine in June 2008 and is on his way home to Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona. The reservation has the highest rate of adult-onset diabetes in the world with over half of the population suffering from the disease.

Johnson, 37, is one of them.

The Walk Home

Terrol Dew Johnson is walking and bicycling from Maine to Arizona to raise awareness of the obesity rate among American Indians.

If you would like Johnson to give a presentation, join him on part of his journey or donate money to support his efforts, contact him by e-mail at tdewj@yahoo.com or call 520-235-1030.

Johnson plans to leave Baldwin City on Sunday afternoon and travel along U.S. Highway 56 to Dodge City.

For more information, visit Johnson's Web site.

“For years, I have not been following any kind of regime to get better,” he said. “I really decided to do this walk and really take time to focus on myself.”

In 1996, Johnson co-founded Tohono O’odham Community Action, commonly known as TOCA. The nonprofit promotes traditional food and cultural activities as a solution to diabetes.

Now, he is walking the walk.

“If I can do it, anyone can. I was lazy,” he said, adding he has shed 60 pounds during the trip. Before he started, he weighed 297 pounds.

He has the support of his nephew Shane Johnson, 17, and niece Maray Johnson, 16, who have accompanied him during the entire trip. Shane Johnson said he “was sitting at home being kind of lazy” before the trip that has proved to be life-changing. Not only is he improving his health, but he is learning about financial struggles and the kindness of communities.

The family began by walking from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Sharon Springs, N.Y., and then stopped in November 2008 for the winter. In July, they walked from New York to Quincy, Ill., and then decided to start bicycling to pick up the pace.

They arrived in Lawrence on Nov. 15 and plan to leave from Baldwin City on Sunday. The vehicle that picks them up at the end of each day needed a new part, so during the wait they have taken advantage by spreading their message.

The family visited the Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation near Topeka and have attended activities in the Lawrence community.

On Thursday, Terrol Johnson spoke at the Harvest Food Festival at Haskell Indian Nations University. He was glad to see traditional American Indian dishes being served.

“TOCA focuses on incorporating traditional food that our ancestors ate long ago,” he said. Such foods include squash, beans, corn, rice, melons and wild game like rabbits and deer.

“We have veered away from that and are eating a lot of modern foods that have high calories and saturated fats and processed flour and things like that, which have been known to really be bad for Native Americans' metabolism.”

Terrol Johnson said he has learned that being overweight isn’t just about food and exercise.

“It covers a lot more than that. It goes a lot deeper psychologically,” he said. “We are basically talking about historical trauma. The whole idea is to peel back the layers and figure out why we are like this. Why did we let ourselves get to this point?”

Comments

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 1 month ago

Here's part of the problem: "fry bread" isn't traditional Indian food. It was developed on reservations in the 19th century when the U.S. government crammed Indians on reservations and gave them only flour and lard to eat. So, the Indians came up with fry bread, and it became a staple of survival. That singular culinary event has done much to ruin the health of American natives.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree that many factors go into why we overeat. I really, really wish someone would bring up the fact that some food just tastes good. Mincemeat pie is so good, that I want another piece and so I give myself one. I was raised in a home where attention was sparse but food was plentiful. I don't remember once being told anything about what to eat or how much. I could eat a whole bag of potato chips at a time if I chose. Now, I wish I had been more disciplined in that area when I was growing up, because it is a lot harder now.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

How about public eating establishments offering smaller portions for less money? The current economic climate provides the perfect opportunity.

More often than not "too much" arrives on our plates.

Reduce the portion sizes,thus feeling more comfortable after eating, thus eliminating carry out containers which are NOT good for environment and in the end the community is working together.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

That's the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan

"That's it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy," Pollan tells Steve Inskeep.

'Eat Food'

The implication of Pollan's advice, however, is that what we're eating now isn't food.

"Very often, it isn't," he says. "We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances, which is to say highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods."

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and "food products" takes work. His tip: "Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

Take, for example, the portable tubes of yogurt known as Go-Gurt, Pollan says. "Imagine your grandmother or your great-grandmother picking up this tube, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out how to administer it to her body — if indeed it is something that goes in your body — and then imagine her reading the ingredients," he says. "Yogurt is a very simple food. It's milk inoculated with a bacterial culture. But Go-Gurt has dozens of ingredients."

'Not Too Much'

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we're just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says "has failed us when it comes to food, by and large," and more on culture.

Small portion sizes, Pollan says. "The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don't get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don't have seconds, they don't snack."

'Mostly Plants'

Finally, eating plants is very important, Pollan says. "There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us," he says.

Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it's heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we're eating."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17725932

halfmoon 5 years, 1 month ago

Isn't that what Dr. Linda Sue Warner has been trying to tell people? Healthier Haskell ring a bell ?

nbnozzy 5 years, 1 month ago

Don't let this happen to you:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,575807,00.html

Now back away from the nachos and beer.....

beastshawnee 5 years, 1 month ago

They killed off most of the buffalo, the lowest calorie, healthiest meat, now if I want buffalo I gotta pay an arm and a leg to get some. But don't take away my fry bread- even if it wasn't a traditional food, it is now, I just only eat one piece, and not the Indian taco size either, just half or a third of that. And the comment about smaller sizes of portions when we eat out...I learned from Weight Watchers to eat only half, and save the other half for later. This makes the meal reasonably priced, two times good, and you feel like you are eating out more often. I also learned that FAT IS A SYMPTOM. Some viruses cause fat gain, thyroid issues cause fat gain (or loss), and many other health issues besides simple overeating. Do stop overeating if you can. If you have extreme hunger all the time, it is not hunger, but carbohydrate cravings. Eat carbohydrates only at supper time, all the rest of the time eat green vegetables, and protein. The cravings should disappear. Unless you are on certain medications. Good Luck!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 1 month ago

"How about public eating establishments offering smaller portions for less money?"

The problem is: we have stretched out our stomachs to where we "need" more, sort of. Unless someone was trying to lose weight, I don't think the average American would go to a "reduced portion" restaurant more than once.

phyreh20 5 years, 1 month ago

Much oblige! Synthetic (Hydrogenated) cooking oils, lard, shortening, butter,etc.

yankeevet 5 years, 1 month ago

Order from McDonalds.....

yes; I willl have 2 big macs; 3 large order fries; 2 apple pies; a chocolate malt; and oh yes give me a diet coke...........cause i be on a diet................the american way!! lol.......

Russell Fryberger 5 years, 1 month ago

Nobody seems to want to bring up the other bad weight gaining problem. "lazy".

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