Monday, June 6, 2011

Diet Drama on the Bookshelf

Unless you've been living under a rock like the dudes in the Geico commercial, you've got to be aware of the expanding waistlines of the majority of the US population.  Every health expert and nutritionist has his or her own explanation of the root cause of the additional pounds we are packing on.  While all the angles have a certain amount of merit, I throw my lot in with the crowd that feels that our food choices play the biggest role in determining our body weight.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that the saying 'you are what you eat' has a good bit of credibility.  This was the scene at the local bookstore my wife and I visited the other day:

In case I need to make things a little clearer, there were 19.5 shelves that contained books telling you what you should eat to get healthy/lose weight.  I counted the books on 3 of the shelves and there was an average of 42 books in that sample size.  For arguments sake, let's say there were only 40 books per shelf, that would give you 780 books trying to sell you a way of eating that will make you healthier.  The problem with all of these books is that there are so many conflicting titles.  There are the no carb books.  There are the no fat books.  There are the no taste books.  Well, maybe not no taste books, but after browsing a couple of them I think that no taste might be an accurate assessment.  There is the cave-man diet book.  The abs diet book.  The skinny bitch diet book.  (Ladies, for what it's worth I'd rather you be cool and a few pounds overweight than be a bitch and be skinny.  Just sayin'.)

There are literally 100's of different titles in the diet and nutrition section trying to tell you what you should eat.  If you ask me, they all miss the point.  Well, all but one.  Nina Planck wrote a book called Real Food; it completely changed the way that I think about food and it makes absolutely perfect sense.  Our bodies need real food to function properly, and real food comes from the ground and from nature.  Now, you can argue that organic is better than non-organic (and I wouldn't disagree with that point), but we as a country and we as a world need to realize that real food is better than processed food for our bodies.  Our bodies don't know how to digest the processed food that we eat.  I believe the reason for this is so logical that it is easy to miss, a kind of 'can't see the forest for the trees' scenario.  Depending on your belief structure, (and I promise to not get into a creation vs evolution debate, at least not now) our bodies have been eating relatively the same types of food for the first 7,000-100,000 years that homo sapiens have been on the planet.  It's only been in the last 60 or so years that we've screwed everything up.  Whether it is trans-fats, partially hydrogenated oils, or genetically modified crops, our bodies can't process them.  When we eat these foods too often, our bodies don't get the nutrients they need, and it sends a signal to the brain to eat more in an attempt at getting the nutrients required.

So, what I tell my clients (pay attention here) is that you need to do the best you can to eat real food.  Real food is the kind of thing you have to cook.  You have to take the time to peel and/or wash it.  Eating real food is the only way to live a healthy and long life.  The shit that we eat from fast food restaurants (excuse my language but I believe that you should call a Big Mac what it is, and it surely isn't food) is killing us.  And by looking at the dramatic rise in obesity rates and chronic diseases in the last 60 years, you can't even say that processed foods are killing us slowly.  Cause they're not.

The question isn't whether you can afford to buy real food; the real question is whether you can afford not to.

Remember, you really are what you eat.

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