An Election Day Plea

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As part of American Diabetes Month the ADA has put together a suggested list of blogging topics. Today’s suggested topic is:

Tuesday, November 2 Election Day – What issues are important to you? If you could tell your representatives one thing about diabetes, what would it be?  

The most obvious plea would be for funding research for a diabetes cure. But that’s like voting for Change We Can Believe In and expecting it to happen in 18 months. It’s a recipe for disappointment. What does a cure mean anyway? To me: No meds, no machines, no special routines. Will there be a cure? I hope so. Will I see it in my lifetime? I’m not so sure.

My immediate plea would be to improve this nation’s food policies and programs. This could have an enormous positive impact on people’s lives and health right now. And not just for the millions of people with diabetes, but also for the millions people at risk for heart attack, stroke and degenerative diseases. This is what I would ask our representatives in Washington to focus on.

We need policies and programs that promote fruits, vegetables and whole grains over full-fat dairy and processed foods. Make healthful food more affordable and widely available. We need policies and programs that encourage us too be active every day. We need more than PR campaigns that tell us to “Eat a Rainbow” or “Let’s Move.” That rainbow needs to be comparably priced to the white foods (bread, rice and potatoes) that fill most people’s plates. To move our kids need to have PE every single day they are in school. Our neighborhoods and communities need to have safe, open space and community gyms where we can play, walk, run and gather.

Certainly these policies will come up against resistance. We have 50-plus years of the food advertising and packaging to counter balance. We have generations of children who learned that a tater tot is a vegetable and cheese pizza is a protein from the National School Lunch Program.

But what if every school cafeteria had a salad bar? What if only whole grain bread and pasta were served there? What if Food Network had a salad episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate? What if our restaurants brought out fruit trays instead of desert trays to tempt us? It could make for a whole new eating experience–and a healthier us.

What do I want? Better nutrition for everyone. When do I want it? Now!