Food For Thought – What Should I Eat

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I once had a friend who said there are two types of people in the world: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. I hope I am somewhere in the middle. As an American, I love to eat. The wide variety of cultures and peoples that make up this country bring to it some of the most distinct and best food on the planet. Stores are packed with ethnic versions of foods not seen here 30 years ago. The American diet seems to be breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, supper, snack, midnight snack. It’s not that we are focused on food, but our lives are fast paced and we burn lots of calories. Now I really wonder if you believe that.

Yet over my life time I continue to get more and more suspicious of all the nutrition and dietary fads that now are everywhere. Adkins Diet, the Paleo Diet, gluten free, transfat free. It is really beginning to get maddening that whatever I do it will either be wrong or change in another year. I tend to stay in pretty good shape and watch what I eat, with the exceptions of Super Bowls, New Years Day, and the requisite holiday celebrations. But after three decades of trying to do the right thing, I am starting to believe eating is not a luxury but a necessity. I need to stop feeling guilty about what I eat and start being smarter about how I live.

They say you are what you eat. If that is the case, then I am mostly vegetable with a thin layer of fat and not much meat. But that can’t be right last time I looked in the mirror. I am reasonably sure that a significant part of me is preservatives, which may make me live longer. I have watched my salt intake but still end up with a good amount of preservatives in my food. Now they say that is bad, but at this point it is hard to tell based on what the doctor said at my last physical exam.

Which brings me to the point of just exactly is it we are supposed to eat and what are we to avoid. Who should I believe? The government once had a food pyramid but now has something that looks like a rhombus. I think. The First Lady is trying to replace high carb lunches with stuff any kid in their right mind would throw in the garbage. And they spend money to do a study to discover not only that kids are filling up school lunchrooms with the new dietary plans, but that the reason kids throw the food away is because they think it tastes crappy. Surprise.

Some argue a government control thing with this, but I don’t agree. It’s just the First Lady being National Mom. Now as for those corporations, that is another story. It seems pretty clear that they have more control over what most Americans eat because they manufacture it. Salt is a natural preservative, and cheap, so companies load down their products with salt. That contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, which doctors then give you a prescription medication to counter its effects. Then they tell you to eat less salt. Someone is chasing their tail here.

One alternative is to go all natural. No preservatives, home garden grown, mercury free, salt free. That seems like a good plan but the problem is that where can most people find these foods? Forget WalMart. Farmer’s markets are a great idea except in most places they aren’t year round. The main source of natural foods will be local specialty stores or healthy sections n the local supermarket. Stop and think about that for a second. A place where you buy food to eat has a healthy section. Then what is all the other food supposed to be?

But the bottom line for most people is the bottom line – price. Who can afford a $5 jar of 16 ounces of peanut butter once a month? The better you try to eat, the more it costs. If I turn that logic on its head, if you are poor you will die sooner from malnutrition. If you noticed, a reduced fat product costs more than the regular version. What corporations are saying is, if we have to put ingredients that are actually good for you instead of fat, you will pay more for it. It’s peanut butter, not caviar.

The more I think about this eating thing, the more I realize it may not matter at all. I have no major health problems despite the fact that I have changed my diet 20 times over the last 21 years. I can climb several flights of stairs without getting winded and maintain a normal blood pressure level despite my job. Personally, I think I have been had by the diet gurus and nutrition experts. Time to go get my fat enriched ice cream and top it with the necessary quantity of double chocolate sauce.