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Trump told a room full of veterans that PTSD only affects those who aren't 'strong.'

UPDATE 10/4/2016: This story has been updated to reflect Trump's full quote and additional context on his larger point.

On Monday, Donald Trump spoke to the Retired American Warriors PAC in Virginia, where he made some controversial remarks about post-traumatic stress disorder.

During the Q&A in his speech to American war veterans, Trump was asked about the suicide epidemic affecting the U.S. military.

Trump speaking to vets at Drake University in January. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.


"When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over. And you're strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it. And they see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie — nobody would believe it," Trump said.

Social media quickly lit up with anger as reports of Trump's remarks hit Twitter.

His comment, made in a room full of veterans, cannot be ignored.

Trump's words demonstrate a serious misunderstanding of the issues that affect veterans. They also represent a harmful attitude about how to deal with PTSD and depression, one that mental health professionals and activists have been trying to correct for years.

To be fair, Trump's full comments were made in support of providing more health care of veterans — not less. He even proposed that the government should pay for the health care of all veterans, not just at Veterans Affairs locations, but at any hospital.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Roughly 5% of all U.S. troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.

The implication that veterans who die by suicide or suffer from mental health problems are simply not "strong" or "can't handle it" is not only inaccurate but reinforces a dangerous, life-threatening attitude toward mental health.

PTSD diagnoses are nearly double that for veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those numbers only account for the veterans who have received treatment. Like many mental health issues, PTSD is stigmatized and often goes unreported or untreated, which means an unknown number of veterans could be suffering silently, afraid to ask for the treatment they need, for fear of being perceived as weak.

For those who do seek help, researchers have found that the suggestion to "toughen up" only increases cases of depression. PTSD is a real mental health disorder that affects millions every year, not just veterans.

Jesus Bocanegra, 24, a PTSD sufferer who had to drop out of college because of his nervousness in large crowds. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

Furthermore, Trump's implication that veterans who die from suicide because they're weak is, effectively, pouring a gallon of gasoline on top of the already destructive fire of toxic masculinity.

In simple terms, toxic masculinity is the socially constructed idea that being a "man" means being tough and unemotional, or even violent and sexually aggressive.

"Toughness" has also been a key part of the Trump campaign:

From a very early age, boys are taught that being emotional means being weak. The ripple effects of that lesson are numerous and include a dramatically higher rate of suicide among men than women.

To say that suicidal veterans are not strong or that PTSD only affects those who "can't handle" service doesn't help anyone, and it could hurt a whole lot more.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Anyone seeking the role of commander in chief, though, should understand and empathize with the very real repercussions of putting your life on the line for your country and be deliberate in the way he or she talks about it.

Trump prides himself on not being politically correct, but there are very real repercussions for talking about PTSD in a politically incorrect way. Despite his good intentions to provide more mental health support to veterans, Trump's disregard for the way mental health professionals and advocates have worked for years to correct the misinformation and stigmatization of PTSD and depression shows a level of flippancy towards an important issue that a commander in chief cannot afford.

Health

4 simple hacks to help you meet your healthy eating goals

Trying to eat healthier? Try these 4 totally doable tricks.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Most of us want to eat healthier but need some help to make it happen.

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When it comes to choosing what to eat, we live in a uniquely challenging era. Never before have humans known more about nutrition and how to eat for optimal health, and yet we’ve never been more surrounded by distractions and temptations that derail us from making healthy choices.

Some people might be able to decide “I’m going to eat healthier!” and do so without any problem, but those folks are unicorns. Most of us know what we should do, but need a little help making it happen—like some simple hacks, tips and tricks for avoiding pitfalls on the road to healthier eating.

While recognizing that what works for one person may not work for another, here are some helpful habits and approaches that might help you move closer to your healthy eating goals.

man pulling chip out of a chip bagOur mouths loves chips. Our bodies not so much.Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Goal: Snack on less junk food

Tip: Focus your willpower on the grocery store, not your home

Willpower is a limited commodity for most of us, and it is no match for a bag of potato chips sitting on top of the fridge. It’s just a fact. Channeling your willpower at the grocery store can save you from having to fight that battle at home. If you don’t bring chips into your house in the first place, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach for something healthier.

The key to successful shopping trips is to always go to the store with a specific list and a full stomach—you’ll feel much less tempted to buy the junky snack foods if you’re already satiated. Also, finding healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your cravings for salty or crunchy, or fatty foods helps. Sugar snap peas have a surprisingly satisfying crunch, apples and nut butter hit that sweet-and-salty craving, etc.

slice of cakeYou can eat well without giving up sweets completely.Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

Goal: Eat less sugar

Tip: Instead of “deprive,” think “delay” or “decrease and delight”

Sugar is a tricky one. Some people find it easier to cut out added sugars altogether, but that can create an all-or-nothing mindset that all too often results in “all.” Eating more whole foods and less processed foods can help us cut out a lot of ancillary sugar, but we still live in a world with birthday cakes and dessert courses.

One approach to dessert temptation is to delay instead of deprive. Tell yourself you can have any sweet you want…tomorrow. This mental trick flips the “I’ll just indulge today and start eating healthier tomorrow” idea on its head. It’s a lot easier to resist something you know you can have tomorrow than to say no to something you think you’ll never get to have again.

Another approach when you really want to enjoy a dessert at that moment is to decrease the amount and really truly savor it. Eat each bite slowly, delighting in the full taste and satisfaction of it. As soon as that delight starts to diminish, even a little, stop eating. You’ve gotten what you wanted out of it. You don’t have to finish it. (After all, you can always have more tomorrow!)

colorful fresh food on a plateA naturally colorful meal is a healthy meal.Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Goal: Eat healthier meals

Tip: Focus on fresh foods and plan meals ahead of time

Meal planning is easier than ever before. The internet is filled with countless tools—everything from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning apps—and it’s as awesome as it is overwhelming.

Planning ahead takes the guesswork and decision fatigue out of cooking, preventing the inevitable “Let’s just order a pizza.” You can have a repeating 3-week or 4-week menu of your favorite meals so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat, or you can meal plan once a week to try new recipes and keep things fresh.

It might help to designate one day a week to “shop and chop”—getting and prepping the ingredients for the week’s meals so they’re ready to go in your fridge or freezer.

woman holding blueberries in her handsOrganic foods are better for the Earth and for us.Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

Goal: Eat more organic/humanely raised food

Tip: Utilize the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” lists to prioritize

Many people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Organic food is also better for the planet, and according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that organic produce is higher in certain nutrients.

Most people don’t buy everything organic, but there are some foods that should take priority over others. Each year, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyze thousands of samples of dozens of fruits and vegetables. From this data, they create a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables, indicating what produce has the most and least pesticide residue. These lists give people a good place to start focusing their transition to more organic foods.

To make organic eating even simpler, you can shop O Organics® at your local Albertsons or Safeway stores. The O Organics brand offers a wide range of affordable USDA-certified organic products in every aisle. If you’re focusing on fresh foods, O Organics produce is always grown without synthetic pesticides, is farmed to conserve biodiversity, and is always non-GMO. All animal-based O Organics products are certified humane as well. Even switching part of your grocery list to organic can make a positive impact on the planet and the people you feed.

Healthy eating habits don’t have to be all or nothing, and they don’t have to be complicated. A few simple mindset changes at home and habit changes at the grocery store can make a big difference.

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