Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat Food.

How hard should it be to find and eat real food? Apparently, it's pretty difficult because that's the first rule in Michael Pollan's Food Rules. Most of the foods I had been eating fell into the category of "edible food-like substances." Until I realized that these foods were making me sick, I never thought much of it.

Rule #3-Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

It's incredibly difficult to find foods that don't contain corn products or industrial ingredients. There was short time where I wandered around the grocery store, wandering what exactly I was allowed to eat.

Not much that I could find in grocery stores.

I understand that this is where a lot of people would give up. It's almost too difficult to continue since there isn't much to eat at first, and it's so much easier to go back to processed foods. They're comfortable and incredibly easy, especially since I didn't know how to cook.

But I wasn't interested in going back, especially since I was still horrified with all the cancers and health problems that came from a diet. An excellent point was made in my book: "The food scientists' chemistry set is designed to extend shelf life, make old food look fresher and more appetizing that it really is, and get you to eat more."

Previously, I was all for preservatives. I don't always eat at home, and I hated throwing out food. So why not cram as many preservatives in there to keep it fresh as long as possible? Because it's not fresh. It's an illusion. And food that doesn't rot isn't food. (Maybe that's why I've always had stomach problems?)

Rule #4- Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup is another one of those additives are in hundreds of products. ALMOST EVERYTHING PROCESSED! It's fairly common knowledge that the amount of high-fructose corn syrup we consume isn't good for us, but I don't think anyone truly knows the extent of its destruction. A study on high-fructose corn syrup was released recently that showed that not all sweeteners are the same:

Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

"When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

This is so disturbing. What's even more disturbing are these ads being played on tv that say it's okay in moderation. Not only are we NOT consuming HFCS in moderation, but the previous study showed that even in small amounts, it's causing obesity.

Rule #9-Avoid food products with the wordoid "lite" or the terms "low-fat" or "nonfat" in their names.

I'm old enough to remember when everyone went through the "low-fat" or "no-fat" craze in the 1980s. It makes sense. Why wouldn't you take the option of something with lower calories? Something that seems healthier than normal? I mean, if you get low-fat, it almost makes it okay to get that giant tub of Velveeta. While nothing is confirmed, it seems like that mindset is what has caused America to get fatter while "dieting."

Because removing the fat from foods doesn't necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. Also, by demonizing one nutrient-fat-we inevitable give a free pass to another, supposedly "good," nutrient-carbohydrates in this case-and then proceed to eat too much of that instead. Since the low-fat campaign began in the late 1970s, Americans actually have been eating more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar. The result: The average male is seventeen pounds heavier and the average female is nineteen pounds heavier than in the late 1970s. You're better off eating the real thing in moderation than binging on "lite" food products packed with sugars and salt.

Crazy! It's not just that kids suddenly have video games or schools can't afford P.E. classes, it's because we're eating more as a result of heavily processed foods. The next rule goes right along with this one.

Rule #13-Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

I know I touched briefly on rotting foods earlier, but it seems real foods rot. My biggest problem was buying too much at once, and since I'm only one person, a good chunk of food would go bad. I was frustrated because I felt like I was throwing money away (probably because I was). As I mentioned, my solution was processed foods. However, an excellent case is made for rotting foods:

What does it mean for food to "go bad"? It usually means that the fungi and bacteria and insects and rodents with whom we compete for nutrients and calories have gotten to it before we did. Food processing began as a way to extend the shelf life of food by protecting it from these competitors. This is often accomplished by making the food less appealing to them, by removing nutrients from it that attract competitors, or by removing other nutrients likely to turn rancid, like omega-3 fatty acids. The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is.

I don't really want my food to mold or for rats to eat it (if I had rats), but how awful is it that mold/fungi/rodents won't eat our foods? Something that nature passes over should also be passed over by us. Or at least me!

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