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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Death by Diet

Uploaded: Sep 24, 2016

So I went to the doctors this week for the general checkup. They ask so many more questions now than they ever used to.

There’s the ones we expect:

- Do you smoke?

- Do you drink and if so, how many days a week?

The one they added a couple years ago:

- Is anyone at home hurting you physically or emotionally?

And this time there was a whole slew of new ones:

- How many times a week do you drink more than 3 glasses of alcohol at a time?

- Do you smoke marijuana?

- In the past month have you felt depression, anxiety, fatigue, stress or insomnia?

- Do you have a health care agent?

I told the nurse it was good to hear the new questions, but how about a question asking what I eat?

- Ms. Stec, how many sugary beverages do you drink a week?

- Ms. Stec, do you eat processed foods every day?

- Ms. Stec, how many servings of vegetables do you consume daily?

She looked at me quizzically.

Isn’t it true that nearly 40% of all the deaths in the U.S. are caused by diseases directly related to our diet? The Center for Science in the Public Interest tells us “unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S. (out of an approx 2.5 million deaths per year per CDC), due to nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. In the last 30 years, obesity rates have doubled in adults, tripled in children, and quadrupled in adolescents.”

Same week, this silly but timely graphic made it’s way around social media.

And again I ask, where’s the beef?

Or for that matter, the sodium, processed foods, simple carbohydrates and overeating in general?

Isn’t that what we all should be dying to talk about?

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Steven, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Sep 24, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Right on, Laura!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 3:51 am

At a recent Kaiser checkup the only question asked was whether I always wear a seat belt. Maybe they already had me on record for the other items. Traffic fatalities would top 33,000 in the Table you've included. (Down significantly from the 55,000 when I earned my license.) No data on how many were having a Food Party in the driver seat, which seemed more frequent before cellphones became the popular distraction. I assume self-driving cars will come with a kitchenette in the dashboard.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 7:27 am

Musical, seat belt eh? I never heard that one and I too am Kaiser. Maybe they get the reports; "Musical just got a moving violation and Stec just went to the Grateful Dead concert." I asked a male friend if he was ever asked about "physical/emotional abuse." (No) I wonder why they ask some questions to some folks and not others? And why they never ask anyone what they eat? Any medical establishment Food Partiers! out there to give an answer?

Posted by AJ Crawdaddy, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 7:46 am

"Thrive" is Kaiser's new motto. I believe you have stumbled upon a very good point. My diet has disintegrated into chaos as of late. As for Kaiser, corporate health care is a pathetic sham of what once was a sacred bond between a patient and a doctor. Whether we live or die makes no difference. It's all about collecting a fee whenever you go there. Keep up the great blog! See you at the Pio!

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 11:34 am

I would not be surprised if they ask questions from a scripted list and over time they will repeat some questions to see if there are any changes which would indicate A.) an actual change in behavior or B.) you are not being completely truthful.

In terms of typical daily American activities, driving is the one of the most dangerous things people do. Here's a chart from the National Safety Council

Web Link

Not wearing a seat belt may have some correlation with other risky behavior, so that may be why the question is asked even if they don't say it.

I don't know if doctors still ask if patients use dental floss. Some recent studies dispute that there is any correlation between flossing and other health problems as had been previously believed.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

No doctor asked you about dental floss, did they?

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Food is the most popular drug of choice. How much of what we eat has
nothing to do with nutrition and health, and instead even destroys our health?
Where else do we see a celebration of death all over our streets, in our
businesses and in our homes. We are so inundated with stuff that makes
us sick that we do not even see it. Great article.

Posted by Beth, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Sep 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Really good point(s).

The medical community and schools (though I didn't fact-check this) notoriously know little about food consumption and how it is optimally put to use. They know what most of us also know, and will gladly refer you to a nutritionist.

Point to note is the sugar industry's lie about fat to cover their own responsibility decades ago. And why weren't the nutritionists, doctors, government, etc. all over this? Could it be there's insufficient oversight over food claims. Rightfully, there's too much to cover and our government protects industries, I believe, over citizens' health. For some reason, our health and health care is each person's responsibility.

Why is that oversized dollar sign looming over this?

Posted by Michael O., a resident of Gunn High School,
on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Michael O. is a registered user.

Uh, no, it's not time to be alarmed. The death rates from all those supposedly diet related illness is going DOWN, not up, and have been steadily going down for years (other than hypertension, which accounts for a small proportion). You should read the CDC report. Death rates declining, life expectancy going up, etc., etc. for all population groups. The people of Palo Alto, of all places, do not need to worry about what they're eating. Stop smoking, wear a seatbelt, sell your gun (if you have one) and eat what you want -- you'll live longer that you want.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Sep 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Michael O, Thanks for the comment. I'd respond if one doesn't already smoke or has/uses their gun, and wears their seatbelt, then eating is exactly the next most important thing to pay attention to. I guess the note here is health care providers should start asking people about their guns?

Posted by Yellow, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Sep 29, 2016 at 7:26 pm

The healthcare provider missed one important question during his/her medical appointment interview:
1. How much of your time do you spend griping? More than 3X a day?
2. How much of your time do you spend appreciating others, and expressing thanks to others who are probably doing their best to help you?
Less than 3X a day?
3. Are you struggling to find a meaningful purpose in your life, a job where you contribute to others? (Healthcare worker who inquires about others' health, devotes their lives to helping others comes to mind.....)
4. Do you find that you gain an audience by criticizing and griping, and that this substitutes for having a worthwhile topic to write about?
5. Did you find as a child that you gained the most attention when you were negative, criticized others, and this is how you still seek attention as an adult? (I can answer that question for you.)
6. Are you struggling with a sense of purpose?

The questions listed in Laura Stec's um complaint seem to be the new norm, and there must be some research to back up the value of asking such questions. I've accompanied siblings, parents, nephew, etc.,& extended family members on visits to oncologist, family practice docs, surgeons, allergists, in every type of practice and at every type of facility. Even my mother's geriatric nurse, who worked in her geriatric residential facility, asked my mother lifestyle questions. There are usually some lifestyle questions involved in any appointment, especially with an internist or family practice doctor. Neither my family members nor myself have ever had such a negative reaction as Laura Stec. We felt the healthcare professionals were being caring and doing their job. Perhaps the questions were targeted (alcohol, marijuana, depression, but not the seatbelts :) based on that particular individual's medical history and past/present difficulties/struggles. Reading this paper, I was under the impression that the community WANTED medical providers to ask about depression or abuse, to prevent suicide or victimization.
So here's the solution for the um complainant who wrote the piece. Stop complaining, stop filling the air with negative griping and criticizing that takes no effort on your part, and makes no contribution. Put your energy into getting a job where you work with food companies to improve food composition. Oh...but that would take actual effort on your part....You might have to be constructive, work with others, and not sit on the sidelines and gripe for attention. Never mind!
By the way, I've accompanied both my parents to their Kaiser visits for several years. Nothing but the most caring, patient internist and specialists ever. Highest quality care, truly amazing follow-up, and incredible warmth toward my parents from their physicians & nurses. Ditto for most other medical care providers in the Bay Area. Incredible care there also. We are so fortunate to live here with so many fantastic medical facilities in easy driving distance.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Sep 30, 2016 at 7:40 am

Yellow, what a thoughtful and detailed writing. Thank you for taking the time.

But you are hilarious! You know, this is the thing that has kept me writing for 3 years - the ways people interpret what others write or say. It's so fascinating! I wasn't complaining that the nurse was asking questions, I wrote I was happy to hear the news ones. But for some reason you read it as a complaint. So that reflects on you, your experience as a child, your meaning, or lack thereof in life and work. Respectfully, but in your words, your negativity, not me or mine.

Heaven help us if the sheer act of discussion is immediately considered a negative.

This is time for a Food Party! motto reminder... If it ain't fun, it don't get done!

And while we are at it... Let's change the world with great tasting food!

Posted by really?, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Sep 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

It's a great meme regarding threats to Americans you've pulled up, but perhaps the last line should read 'being fed by another American.'

I just cut out dairy, all carbs, and sugar for a week and immediately lost 3lbs. We'll see how long this lasts......

Posted by gracy, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 18, 2016 at 6:36 am

Great statistics Laura. I would like to use that image in one of my article with prior permission. Let me know.

Posted by LAura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:18 am


I just got it from social media shared from a friend, so can't say who originally put it up.

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