Friday, March 1, 2013

Are We What We Eat? Or Is What We Eat What We Are?

               How many times have people had this happen? You're at a restaurant with friends or family having a wonderful time talking and laughing. When it comes time to order,your presented with a menu were even the descriptions of the food seem scrumptious. All of the people at the table at the table have the same reaction. Yet there's that one person who says that they are trying to fit back into an old pair of jeans,or even worse that the food on the menu contains so many "carbs" or cholesterol that they just wouldn't feel right eating it. Before you know it,nobody at the table orders the delicious dish they originally wanted and wind up with something they don't want because it's listed as being guiltless or heart smart. It's such a common situation it is actually an out and out cliche nowadays.

           Every time we turn on the television,read a magazine,book or even (if one still does this very often) listen to the radio they are inundated with talk from other people claiming they know the sure fire way to health and weightless  We have TV commercials for low fat products aimed directly at ones self esteem,often followed by an very sensuously presented ad for a heavily sugared dessert. You might even see a television show about a young lady dying of an obesity related disorder one day,than one meeting up with the same fat from anorexia the next. It's often women and adolescent girls who are the most common target of this,and still have the most trouble. Everyone however is affected by that ultimate modern exploiter of the American psyche: the ubiquitous diet plan.

          There seems to be a diet plan for every state,every country. Most of them are massive media blitzes,most are very short lived and a lot of them are severely debunked once they've played themselves out. In my lifetime some of the more famous of these have been the Brat Diet,on which I was on for a time. There's was the Atkins Diet,which was mostly protein and meat oriented. There's also the South Beach diet as well. Of course the oldest,most lasting and by far the most controversial is vegetarianism. This ranges from people who will eat fish but no red meat to high level vegans,a more modern term for those who eat nothing that comes from an animal, who pride themselves on barely eating food that casts a shadow.  This can be summed up best,actually,by a line from Mr.Spock on Star Trek: in a sense we all feed on death,even vegetarians. 

        I'm not a dietitian. I have no idea how the ingredients or any of the other complex substances in the food we eat actually effect our bodies. As a matter of face,it's clear most of the time that "valid scientific findings" on this subject are more often contrived to make money. There is an age old way to maintain healthy eating habits,whether eating in the home or outside,that has never seemed to fail. In fact it may be the best thing for a lot of aspects of our lives. And that is balance. Or in this case,balanced meals. Dinner containing a meat,a vegetable and something made with a potato or rice perhaps. They taste good,can be made in a number of combinations and you inevitably don't have to feel too guilty about any of it. Sounds like a simplistic,almost childish notion doesn't it? Well it's not. 

         We learn about balanced life and balanced meals when we're children,but it slips our minds as we grow. Most of us finish school,have to meet up with the unrelenting and often unwanted pressures of trying to make a living in a ridiculously fast paced existence. So it's easier to grab a cookie or a bag of chips on the go than stop and eat a decent meal. This leads to cumulative guilt. Many experts know this too. Some of them have very dubious credentials and again are economically motivated. Others just freely remind us of what we already know about what we put into our bodies,but that our over taxed minds won't seem to allow many of us to retain for any length of time. So perhaps when it comes to food,what we learn in kindergarten might have more value than we thought it did.

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