My dad considers himself a Baby Boomer, but really he is slightly older than a Boomer.
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He was born in 1940 (Baby Boomers are 1946-1964).
I would describe his upbringing as a combo of the show Leave it to Beaver and the movie Grease.
My dad was also raised in a strict Christian household…
He wasn’t even allowed to dance.
So a bit of the movie Footloose mixed in as well.
My mom was raised in a very poor household, but she was smart.
She was the editor of her school paper for both Junior and Senior year in High School… and got hired by the Mercury News in San Jose, California shortly after graduating.
My father was an English major in college who worked at Mercury News as well.
They met at work and eventually got married.
(My mom in 1968 holding my older sister.)
As a child in the 70’s, here is what my parents taught me about nutrition:
- Eat all your vegetables.
- Drink milk for strong bones.
- Don’t waste food (starving children in other countries).
Their parents went through the depression, this is why I think they were taught not to waste food.
Since I was raised by conservative Baby Boomers, I did what any self-respecting Gen X teen would do. I rebelled…
I tried to frighten them with radical hair and clothing choices.
(Taken in 1987 at the age of 17. I’m standing on the far right next to my girlfriend.)
June and Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver would have had a heart attack if Wally brought us home for dinner.
From the mid-70’s until the mid 80’s, I’d say convenience was more important than nutrition.
A lot of Gen X people around my age ate a lot of frozen boxed food.
The TV dinners were in foil until the early 80’s when microwaves became popular.
I had tons of this, along with Banquet frozen chicken and tater tots what wound up slightly soggy when cooked in the oven.
Nutrition was a mess from the late ’60s to early ’80s!
It got a bit better in the mid-’80s.
About the time Downtown Julie Brown began hosting Club MTV we figured some stuff out.
In the mid-80’s we lowered dietary fat.
This immediately meant that those TV dinners were no longer an option.
The focus was on whole foods (at first).
A go-to meal for those who loved to workout was chicken breasts and rice.
Teriyaki restaurants opened up on every corner (at least this was the case in Seattle, Portland and the larger cities in California).
This worked wonders for getting lean.
Most people who are Baby Boomers or in Generation X have lost body fat and have gotten lean off of a low fat diet in the past.
Low-fat diets aren’t an extreme idea for my generation (Gen X) we got lean by avoiding fats in our diet for years.
My grandparents were part of “The Greatest Generation”…. born in the 1910’s.
The Greatest Generation followed a diet of about 60% carbs, 30% fats and 10% protein. They were lean and healthy without even trying.
This is also how those of in the late ’80s got lean for summer.
It’s funny that Gen X ate in a way similar that our grandparents did when they were young.
This is also very similar to the traditional Okinawan diet (except they eat even lower fats and higher carbs).
By around 2000-2001, I’d say our diets were as bad as they had ever been.
In the early 2000s, fat intake was matching carb intake… this is a BAD combo for staying lean and healthy.
In the mid-2000s the Paleo movement made low carb as a way to lose weight.
The Paleo movement tried to convince us that carbs were the cause of obesity.
“Carbs are bad” is the main message Millennials have heard when it comes to diet.
I have just noticed that different generations have vastly different experiences when it comes to dieting.
I was born the same year as Woodstock (1969).
Here’s what I believe in my medium length lifetime.
I think my grandparents had it right.
1910-1940s they ate a healthy whole foods diet where carbs were emphasized.
This is about as close as our diets came to the Blue Zones of the world like Okinawa.
Things got really sketchy from the 1950’s to mid-1980s.
With the explosion of fast-food restaurants and then process foods like TV dinners, it was questionable.
(This picture is from the ’50s. It is crazy that McDonald’s had already sold 50 million hamburgers by that time.)
Mid-80’s to sometime in the 90’s whole foods and lower fat was an improvement.
It got bad again in the late ’90s to mid-2000’s.
Paleo was a step in the right direction.
The whole foods part at least.
The obesity rate really does follow the rate at which we have increased fats in our diet.
This isn’t the case with carbs.
Here’s how carb intake compares to the rise in obesity.
I’m not blaming fats for all of it.
A lot of our obesity is due to overall calories due to crazy portion sizes of our meals.
- Cutting carbs is one way to limit calories.
- Cutting calories is a big step in the right direction.
- I just don’t believe that those calories should be cut from the carb side of the equation.
When you cut carbs, you kill your metabolism in the process.
Cutting fats is a way to lose weight while increasing the metabolism… this is one reason I recommend eating high carbs to hit your fat loss goals.
This is outlined in my High Carb Fat Loss course.
Another reason is that the longest living and healthiest living populations on the planet (the blue zones) eat this way.
One of my biggest challenges has been to convince Millennials that carbs aren’t evil.
When most Millenials became old enough to become interested in dieting… the anti-carb movement was in full force.
- They weren’t around when we were limiting fats to get lean.
- They weren’t around for the bad hair or funny styles.
There is wisdom from the ’80s.
WWJHD – What Would John Hughes Do?
Note: A lot of people forget about Gen X, we are the rebellious middle child stuck between the Boomers and Millenials.
“Don’t you forget about me!”
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