Monday, January 12, 2015

A Rant: Misguided Food New Year's Resolutions!

"Eat food.  Mostly plants. Not too much."
Michael Pollan

So it is that time of year for folks to announce their New Year's resolutions - and very often these announcements center on food.

Now there are a couple things we know about human behavior and one of them is that most of us do not stick to our New Year's resolutions.  It is probably better to make changes at some other time of year then to make big declarations at the start of a new year, especially after the end of a long holiday period.

That said, it is not so much the making of resolutions that saddens me - it is the content of some of these resolutions.  When it comes to the food resolutions I have heard so far in 2015, almost all involve:  Diets, Cleanses, Fasts, 100% Avoidance of Certain Foods, and 100% Eating of Certain Foods.  Nothing on the lists I have seen have any chance at long term dietary behavior change.  And some I fear are being observed by folks who - when not observing some strange temporary food rituals - eat processed food, junk food, and fast food.  The three poisons that really are killing us.

Deciding to live on kale "smoothies" twice a day or drinking manufactured "shakes" loaded with chemicals, and/or cutting out all carbohydrates, all protein, or all sugar (unless diabetes is an issue) is INSANITY folks!  I have also heard from those who have decided to "live on" only fruit for a few weeks.  Or only raw vegetables.  Really?  In winter? I also feel bad for the woefully misled.  For example, people who have decided to eat only "no fat" yogurt for lunch need to know that no fat yogurt is loaded with sugar!  And in the case of the yogurt "sundaes" I see in the stores,  loaded with tons of other artificial ingredients, as well. With that said, I realize that it is a good time - after all of the celebrating, rich foods, and imbibing -  to "lighten up" a bit for a week or so.  It is Winter, after all, so it is a time when human beings by nature crave comfort foods and the occasional treat.

Like a slavish dedication to running or exercise, these eating fads can become an ingrained part of a person's life.  While they might bounce from one fad to another,  in between fads they eat horribly.  None of these strange, forced "fixes" is permanent.  Not one.

What is permanent is eating seasonally, locally, and fresh.  Learning to prepare food yourself at least a few times a week is permanent.  Buying food that is free of a laundry list of chemicals, sugars, dyes, and artificial flavoring is permanent.  Believe me, you cannot go back to processed food once you have escaped its grip.  The smell of someone making a "Lean Cuisine" in a microwave literally makes me nauseous.  I know the "aroma" is manufactured by chemicals and the "food" inside is loaded with awful, mad food scientist produced contents.

We are human and we like a treat now and again - I'll be the first to admit I'm at the head of that line!  Thinking that you did something wonderful for yourself because you didn't have a slice of bread or a bowl of pasta or a single cookie for a month means nothing in the final analysis. You will not have learned to eat; you will have learned to make food the enemy and the denial of taking pleasure from food the goal.  How sad is that?  And if you engage in these fads enough,  you will start a cycle of binge and deny and be miserable, binge and deny and be miserable, as a way of life.

Learn to enjoy real food!  Learn to eat a varied, delicious diet!  Throw the boxes out of the freezer and please out of your desk drawers.  Get rid of the soda, especially the diet soda.  Trash the margarine and the fake "spray" butter. Use real butter. Actually use "real" everything. Artificial is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Learn to use proteins as ingredients - not big slabs of meat or fish on your plate -  but rather smaller pieces within a dish.  Stop using any and all condiments and other products that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup - this stuff is screwing up your system and your taste buds.  Read the labels!

Know where your food comes from.  Learn to know what is in season in your area and buy fresh and in season vegetables and fruits.  Cook!  And I don't mean stop and pick up a factory raised chicken, pre - cooked, from some "Market".  Plan your menus and your meals ahead of time and shop accordingly.  Eat breakfast everyday. It should not always be bacon and eggs of course, but neither does it always have to be some disgusting blend of foods that don't go together mashed up in a blender so that you can drink it! Make a batch of oatmeal to last the work week.  Eat real, full fat Greek Yogurt. Even a good piece of toast and a glass of freshly squeezed juice is a good start.   Eat good cheese (not processed "american").  Once you start cooking more regularly for yourself, start learning to cook with leftovers.  Bring a lunch to work that you put together from some of those good leftovers. Save the blender for frozen drinks!

Embrace the idea that life is not about living in cycles of denial because you think you are "preserving" yourself.  You can eat deliciously, and you can treat yourself regularly, if you learn to prepare and eat fresh, real food that it is in season and has been grown and raised drug and cruelty free.  If you don't have time for that, what do you have time for?

End of Rant.

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