I figured that this post needed a sexy title.
Now, before we go any further, think about your reaction to that title. What did you think? How did it make you feel?
One of my favorite quotes from my qualitative research course in the fall semester was, “Research shows that 100% of people who engage in the practice of eating eventually die.” (I forget who wrote it.)
The point of the quote was to make us think critically about what we read, not to believe everything, and not to be satisfied with an answer (however logical it may seem) until we have the whole picture.
Lately, I’ve noticed myself getting angry when I read certain articles about food. I just got a newsletter that said to “eat more grains rich in water-soluble fibre”. It’ll help lower cholesterol and aid digestion. Good idea!
Another article in a magazine that made its way into our kitchen touted the benefits of eating more protein. That one went on to give suggestions in the number of grams of protein a person should eat a day, giving an example of three eggs at one meal as a suitable portion of protein.
“Three eggs at one meal?” I thought. “Maybe if you’re an Olympian… and even then!”
I forget exactly how much protein it recommended per day… I remember thinking that it seemed like an enormous amount. There was no mention of caloric intake relative to body weight, nor any reference to daily activity levels with respect to nutritional needs.
I ultimately tossed the article aside, disgusted.
Really, how do things like this get published? People take this stuff at face value and then go on rampages, stuffing their faces with whatever fad seems to be the flavour of the day.
What gets me about these “Eat more X!” articles is that they rarely talk about what to cut out… Sure, eating more whole grains is a good idea… but not if it is in addition to half a loaf of Wonder bread for breakfast. Instead of “eat more”, how about “choosing differently”?… I personally like the articles that talk about “choose such and such more often, and this other thing less often.” I mean, no one can be good all the time, right?
If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you know that not only has my weight dropped somewhat since the last school year, but that it is a result of being on a quest for a healthy lifestyle, rather than a mission to lose weight. In fact, I’ve become somewhat of an advocate of healthy living (though I do try to refrain from preaching, so I appreciate you indulging me a bit here...)
The other day at work I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in a good long time. We exchanged pleasantries and she said, “You really must tell me your secret!! What eating plan are you on? LA weight loss? Jenny Craig? There’s got to be something…!”
I said, “Um... not really... Just more active and trying to eat better in general..."
"Oh come on, now!" She said, "I know you've done something! What is it?"
Fearing questions about liposuction and stomach stapling (which yes, I have been asked and no, I have not had... anyone who has seen me struggle through the process knows that) I quickly came up with, "Well, I did hire a personal trainer and that helped… I go to the gym regularly now… But as far as eating… I’m afraid it’s not very sexy… Just the Canada Food Guide.”
She looked at me and said, “Oh… Go figure.” And she walked away, a bit dejected.
And the truth is that I have found there is no “sexy secret”… Eating healthy is not rocket science… Vegetables, fruit, grains, protein… every day… Treats in moderation…
And believe me, I am far from having a perfect diet... And just for the record, I am still classified as overweight, so it's not like I am some runway model or something... But I like to think I lead a fairly healthy lifestyle, most of the time. And trust me, I have my vices, like anyone... and I'm the last one to criticize others for what or how they eat. Not to mention that I firmly believe in a daily dose of coffee laced with cream... screw the skim milk! I like dairy fat with my caffeine, thank you very much.
What gets me is the stuff we are being fed by the media. Why do we gobble up myths like, “You will be healthier if you eat a million grams of protein a day!” or “Eat more whole grains!” And who cares if you increase your caloric intake by 300% as you down a loaf -- or five -- of whole wheat bread?
For some reason, we seem to think that empty promises, like empty calories, are sexy. And sex sells, as they say... In this case, magazines and newsletters that are supposed to educate us. (See the quote at the beginning about thinking critically...) But deep down... we know those empty promises are going to leave us feeling unfulfilled... still hungry.
Personally, the thought of a reasonably portioned piece of top quality beef, grilled to perfection (rare) and a crisp salad with lots of crunchy veggies is pretty damned sexy. Three eggs and a loaf of bread in one sitting… uh… not so much.