I've been trying to put this into words for a while now, and I am still struggling. Perhaps you can help me?
In my year-long (or so) journey of changing my approach to food and nutrition, I am often brought to my nutritional knees by food provided by others: by restaurants, picnics, potlucks, buffets and such.
Here's an example. Chinese food delivery. In my efforts to 'healthify' my order, I removed Crab Rangoon from my usual order and added Garlic Broccoli. Our other usuals include Spring Rolls (veggies in an egg roll), beef lo mein (aka beef with noodles), and sesame chicken with a side of rice.Also steamed (not fried) pork dumplings.
Oh, my.! In order, you have: Oversauced (broccoli), FRIED, fatty with noodles made w/white flour, SWEET and oversauced, WHITE rice (not brown), and more white flour and meat.
A few days after that, I did some homemade Chinese food because I still was craving it.
Brown rice stirfry with masses of vegetables in minimal oil (sesame and canola)
Steamed broccoli with a soysauce/garlic/ginger sauce
Chicken and almonds with some 5-Spice mixture and soy sauce
See? Whole grains, lots of veggies, not a ton of oil, healthy protein, nuts.
But go to ANY typical Asian restaurant here in this town, and it's so universally bad for you that you stop SEEING it as bad for you.
If you went to a hamburger joint and the buffet was all candy and ice cream and mozzarella sticks, you'd at least notice the lack of salad. But at an Asian place? We just are blind.
And at your typical "brass and ferns" Appleby's-type restaurant, it's 98% ridiculously bad. NO whole grains. Even the 'wholewheat buns" they serve with the veggie burgers (loaded with sodium and fat, with a slice of cheese usually) are made WITH whole wheat, but with a whole bunch of other crap.
There are zillions of fast food restaurants that have acted like sandpaper to our sensitivities. If a thousand McDonald's restaurants jump off a cliff, well then, it's ok to do, right? It gets to the point where you think that the only way to travel is by cliff-jumping. Turn AROUND, people.
ASIDE: Ever go shopping for a wedding dress? You start (before walking in to the first shop) by thinking -- in normal-person brain -- that $250 is a lot for one dress. My clothes are typically not worth more than that if you add them all together. But then, you look around and see the 4- to 5-digit pricetags. ! ! !
You begin to think that ONLY $1,000 for a dress is totally reasonable, if not cheap. You go to another bridal store, and your bottom line is now in the low thousands. Now, the $2,500 dresses are in your ballpark. You might try some on.
The woman who once thought of a $40 pair of shoes as a stretch is suddenly trying on a dress that costs more than her car, and is finding it ok.
It's like that with food, I think. If practically everything you can buy -- everything that is offered to you by professionals (who, theoretically are very knowledgeable about food) is refined, fatty, meaty, and veggie-free, you start setting your own standards there. It's as crazy as wedding dress shopping, but it happens so much more frequently.
QUICK: think back to your last restaurant meal -- one that you didn't special-order (asking for things on the side, grilled not fried, etc.). Would it come close to the "half the 9-inch plate with fruits and veggies, 1/4 with wholegrains, 1/4 with healthy protein"?
And professionals are SELLING this. And we BUY it.
And we are morons. Nutritional lemmings.
And it may kill us.