Doing the perimeter thing

What do I mean about “the perimeter thing”?  Just keep reading and you will understand.

About 5 or 6 weeks ago, I happened to be watching CNN to catch up on the news.  It happened that they had more of a “feature” show on, rather than the news, Anderson Cooper 360.  I watched for a bit, and found that they had Jamie Oliver on.  If you don’t know who Jamie Oliver is, he is a British Chef.  He is a TV Chef.  He has had a number of cooking shows on British TV over the years.  He’s OK, I’m not a huge fan, but I have watched some of his shows from time to time, and my wife Feyma has picked up a few good recipes from Jamie’s show over the years too.

What was Jamie doing on CNN?  Well, he was talking about his new TV show in the USA, called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  Jamie went to a town named Huntington, West Virginia, which according to a US Government study is the most unhealthy city in the USA.  This is based on things like obesity, diet, health problems and such, which are found in the city, and compared to other parts of the USA.

When I saw Jamie talking about this, I found it interesting, I wanted to learn more.  Let me say, I am obese.  I have been obese for nearly my entire life, since my early childhood.  I have experienced health problems due to obesity.  Over the past 10 years, I have lost a lot of weight, but I am still obese, just a lot less obese than I was a decade ago.  I hope that in a few more years I will no longer be obese.  But, even if I still am, I am feeling better and living a more healthy lifestyle than I was a decade ago.

So, what Jamie wanted to do was to start a Food Revolution.  I change in the way that the people in Huntington ate, and how they lived.  I was excited about it myself, because I wanted to further change my diet, increase my exercise, and become healthier myself.  So, I decided to watch Jamie’s Food Revolution myself and see what it was all about.  As of the time that I write this article, four episodes have been aired, and I have watched them all.  I have picked some very good tips,

and I have watched as Jamie has tried to change things like the school lunch program and other things in West Virginia.  I feel that what Jamie has said and done has had an impact on me, and done some good things for me.  It has reinforced my already existing desire to improve my life and my health.

It so happens that just about the same time that Jamie’s show started, my wife started working on a big job in her consulting business.  Because of this, she has been away from the house quite a bit lately.  So, I decided to take on more of a role in the grocery shopping and cooking part of the household duties, in order to assist my wife.

Now is the time when the “perimeter thing” will come into play and you will know what I am talking about.  You know, I have heard over the years that the healthiest part of the grocery store is the part around the perimeter of the store.  The Produce department.  The meats department.  The dairy area.  The middle of the store is the area where there is not much nutrition, and where most people spend the bulk of their grocery budget!  That’s right.  The cookies.  The twinkies.  The ho-ho’s.  Basically, the junk food.  Of course, there are exceptions like the spices, the cooking ingredients and such, but for the most part, the bulk of the nutrition in the grocery store is along the perimeter.

So, in the past weeks while I’ve been doing a lot of the grocery shopping, I have found myself spending a lot of my time along the perimeter.  Yesterday, I want to the store, and I half filled my cart with produce alone, and I bought some meat.  I didn’t buy anything else.  My bill was only half what I expected it to be, and I came home and cooked some very nutritious and very tasty food!

Amazing!  It tasted good and it saved me money.  How could I complain about that?  Thanks, Jamie, for re-energizing me.


  1. AmericanLola says

    Good one! We also shop the perimeter and eat well because of it. With AmericanLolo being a type 1 diabetic and I being prone to general age and gravitation related spread and sag, we need to eat a healthy diet and skip the junk. When I look in the carts of the people in line with me I am amazed at how much of their perchases come from the middle of the store: junk foods and heavily processed foods, and how little fresh foods they buy. Imported cheeses are our big splurge, and I get them buy-one-take-one if I can.

    I wish you well in your efforts, I know they will pay off!

    • says

      Thank you, AmericanLola. In watching this Food Revolution show, I was amazed to see that in an elementary school class the kids did not even know what vegetables were. They were shown tomatoes and asked, what is this? They did not know. Potatoes? Same answer. Vegetable after vegetable, they didn't have any idea what it was. They were shown french fries, and they know it immediately. Jamie told them – these come from potatoes, and showed potatoes, the kids were puzzled. Things have certainly changed since I grew up!

      Thanks for your comment!

      • AmericanLola says

        Wow, didn't even recogniza a potato? That's amazing and terrible! Yes, when my kids were little, their friends knew veggies, but didn't know eggs came from chickens! :-)

      • says

        I am originally from Huntington, WV; and too was amazed looking at it from the perspective of an "outsider" on this show. I too have been chronically obese all of my life.

        It really snowballed over the last 10 years or so. Nothing seemed to really help. Then I got severely ill about 2.5 years ago. I had strange symptoms ranging anywhere from Epilepsy, to MS, to brain damage, to G/I problems, to heart trouble, to exotic pathogens, to etc etc etc. Nothing was making sense to any of the high priced specialist I was being shipped off to. I was just severely ill almost ALL the time. Besides being portly, they could not find anything wrong with me.

        After being tested for everything in the world, and being shipped from doctor to doctor, we were just lucky to find a doctor that had seen this before. We found out it was a case of overactive insulin and T3/T4 antibodies (Thyroid). The Thyroid knocked a few other things out of balance too, but those were secondary issues. Apparently most doctors only test for Glucose and Thyroid Hormone, and not for Insulin and T3/T4 antibodies – which "eat" the Thyroid gland.

        Now that this is being treated, I'm feeling much better, though not completely well just yet, and have lost 30 lbs so far in about five weeks of treatment. Treatment will go on for another year or so, but I feel MUCH better than I did just five weeks ago.

        Most people don't have symptoms this severe, however I have met other folks at the same doctor that do – and it took over five years to solve their mystery. They are getting better too, but it will take them longer due to their being a bit older than I and the fact it went on so much longer.

        This also went a long way in explaining why I was losing the weight war too, even with proper diet and exercise. If these two items are out of check, it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get the weight off.

        Sorry if this was long, but I just wanted to sound the warning while you were mentioning obesity. While we all have a personal stake in it, the problem may also be the product of things you are unaware of – a silent killer if you will. I just suggest to anyone with a obesity problem to get tested for the above issues so they don't ever have to go though what I have. To her credit, the misses has been a trooper through all of this too!

        • says

          Hi Bill,

          Thanks for your comment. Interesting that you are originally from Huntington. My biggest complaint about the show is that I wish it had been longer. There were a lot more issues they could have delved into, and seeing additional progress reports on the project would have been good.

          I'm really sorry to hear of the health problems you have experienced, but I am happy that they were able to find a cause and by knowing that they have been able to treat it. Feeling better is a good thing!

          Keep up the good work, Bill, and good luck to you on the health front. It is a battle that we all must wage at one time or another.

          • says


            Huntington is indeed an interesting place with an interesting mindset. I agree though that more time exploring the underlying issues would have been nice on the show. A quick search of White Pages will quickly reveal that unhealthy eateries outnumber healthy ones and/or fitness facilities 10,000 to 1 there.

            I have to say I truly don't understand the mindset there anymore, having had the chance to see some of the world. I've always been adventurous like that I suppose. Among other things, my adventurous ways are how I ended up marrying a Filipina all the way on the other side of the world.

            I only shared my plight, as I met a whole doctor's office full of people with the same issue in my same town. I had also read about many folks with the same issues on the Internet that were not able to find resolution either. Being that this article was indirectly about obesity, and because your site is very popular, I am hoping that there is a chance for someone out there with something "unexplained" like this, with similar disconnected symptoms, to find the answer they are looking for without so much time (and money) involved.

          • says

            Hi Bill – I would like to thank you very much for sharing your experience, and like you, I hope that it helps others who have medical problems, so that they can find the answers that they need!

  2. Bob New York says

    In reading this article, I visualized the supermarket I go to and I never realized the perimiter really is where all the things you mention actually are. One thing I envy where you are Bob, the fruit and vegatables really are " Fresh ". Where I live most of it comes from thousands of miles away. Produce from California, Some fruit from Florida and in recent years more and more citrus fruit from South America like Brazil for Oranges and Costa Rica for " fresh " ( not canned or packaged ) Pineapple. There are Philippine products in cans and plastic containers such as Dole Pineapple, and other processed / packaged items from Thailand and other Asian countries.

    Sometimes I wonder just how old the " Fresh " fruit and veggies are that I buy in the store.

    In a way it does not surprise me that some of the younger kids in school can not recognize certain produce items. Think about it, here in the USA I really wonder how many people really " cook " anymore. When I was a Kid most mothers stayted home, really cooked things, did the housework etc. These days both parents have to work at least one job each to pay bills and support their families, and even then it would not surprise me if a lot of that is on Credit Cards. Those of our age watched our mothers prepare and serve " real meals " and even better probably our grandmothers too, ooohhhh, do I miss those big dinners at Grandmas House LOL.

    I wonder what percentage of " meals " today are something that is just heated up in the Microwave and put directly on the table ? Little or no actual preparation at all, everything was done in a processing plant somewhere so where do these kids actually get to see the fruits and veggies in their natural form ? Especially the very young ones that may not go to the supermarket with their parents. That would be my guess.

    Hey, I am probably just as guilty as so many other people, pick up frozen dinners / entries etc. in and out of the microwave, eat and toss the plastic container in the garbage. Similar with canned items. I don't do fast food places much anymore ( except for Jollibee when I am on vacation ) but a take out Pizza, Sausage & pepper wedge etc. on the weekend and I'm all set, then the local Diner a couple of times a week. Do I really " cook " or prepare meals for myself anymore ? I guess not really although I do force myself to cut up some so called " fresh " veggies for some kind of salad a few times a week or more.

    • says

      Hi Bob – Nice to hear from you. Yes, the things you say about food preparation in the USA confirm the things I saw on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution TV show. Things have changed a lot in the US since we were kids. I still remember the meals at Grandma's house, and at our family home too. My Mom worked every day to prepare a healthy meal for us. No microwaves or other "heating up" – what she did was cooking. There is not enough of that today, it seems.

  3. Marjorie Bonser says

    Hi Bob

    Just found this site and just had to say that Jamie has done a similar programme here in England. Some mums were very upset by his critiscism, but it turned out they did not know how to cook a nourishing meal. He set up a course for some of them to learn, and I believe one of the Mums is now carrying on the work for him.

    Since shows like Jamies have been aired here there is a renewed interest in 'growing your own'. People are growing veg in pots on balconies up to renting an allotment and growing food there.

    Good luck with the healthy diet. Now England is warming up again I will be back on the salads lol.


    • says

      Hi Marjorie – Just as you describe in England, many Americans (particularly those in Huntington) were very upset with Jamie for the program. They especially didn't like it that Jamie was a foreigner, and coming in and telling them what they should do and such. But, just as in England, many people did not know how to cook or even eat healthy. It was really an eye opening show, and I think that Jamie should be commended for his effort.

      Nice to see you here, Marjorie! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Marjorie Bonser says

    Hi Bob

    Jamie Oliver's work regarding healthy eating was recognized by the British Government. He is now Jamie Oliver M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) He would have been presented with this award by a member of the Royal Family.

    He also has a restaurant in Cornwall where he trains up youngsters ready to go into the catering industry. The lad has done well in the few years he has been in the public eye.


  5. Ron says

    HI Bob, I agree so much with what you wrote about in this article. The comments over the past couple of months are also on target. I think back to my own childhood and compare it to now. I grew up on a dairy farm so we grew almost all of what we ate. The only supplement that I recall was my going to the river and catching a stringer of fish. I only visited grocery stores for candy-interesting if you think about it. My mom would give me a medium size bowl and tell me to get her a certain amount of potatoes, asparagus, beans, whatever from the garden and that is how we ate. I am very conscious of what I eat but I have strayed far from the right path. As I get older I am trying to eat correctly and in this world its not always easy. Thank you for some late morning reading that re-affirms a conviction of mine to eat better. Ron

    • says

      Hi Ron – So many things have changed a lot in the span of our lifetimes, but I have to say that food has probably changed as much as any other thing. So many people today don't even know how to cook, they just put something in the microwave and they are good to go. I wish you luck on changing your food habits, as I am trying to change mine as well.

  6. says

    I lose 20 pounds every time I go to the Philippines! I just eat much less there! There is also alot of heat and walking involved, so I love it! I can't wait until I move there full time! Ah, walking M.H. Del Pilar in Ermita is always a wonderful stroll through the countryside!

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