Friday, September 27, 2013

eat this, not that. (says who?)

Somehow along the way I have become fascinated with food sciences. I don't mean I study the chemistry and makeup of foods, but with all those different diet plans out there and so many considering themselves experts on the subject, I think it's interesting to hear what people have to say. And, you take it with a grain of salt.

Back in May I read Michael Pollen's book, "In Defense of Food." To be honest, I enjoyed reading it. It talks about how some foods are mostly created in a lab, making them far from what one would consider food at all. And it's true - I don't really think of margarine being a real food... but it has been around a long, long time. And some nutritionists (with the Mayo Clinic!) say margarine is probably better for your heart health, if you choose the right kind.

So I'm interested in what Michael Pollen has to say, but I also realize that he is an author. He is not a scientist, he is not a nutritionist, he is not a registered dietitian. Now, I'm none of those things either... but I am also not trying to give you nutrition advice. I'm just interested in what everyone else is saying.

Maybe part of my interest has to do with my own personal experiences with food. I have never been skinny by society's standards. Even as a little girl I was bigger than some of my friends - not just weight-wise, but height and everything. I have done Weight Watchers without success a number of times, the first of those being age 17 in the spring of my junior year of high school. Sure, I lost a bunch of weight at the early part of my senior year... because I was swimming probably 4,500 yards a day, at least once a day. There are reasons I feel compelled to get back in a pool, aside from the fact that I truly enjoy it.

So outside of Weight Watchers and calorie counting (which honestly doesn't help me in a mental capacity - some of you will understand that and some of you won't), there's other stuff like Atkins and South Beach and Whole 30 and and and. It's easy to get overwhelmed with "diet" options out there, sometimes forgetting that each of us is individual and unique and will have different tastes and needs and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

Instead of shaming people for their choices or how they look or how they eat, we should just leave it up to individuals to decide, unless they seek help or ask questions. Even then, it's okay if you are a vegetarian and someone else is paleo. Not everyone is going to need to subscribe to the same lifestyle.

It's funny that I was thinking of this last night after reading this article ("How Junk Food Can End Obesity") and then someone posted a link to an article about McDonald's promising a salad option instead of fries for value meals with the comment, "It's about damn time" (or something that I am paraphrasing).

Now, I'm not saying go out and eat fast food. But if you eat one McDonald's hamburger, you're not going to instantly gain 10 pounds. You're not going to get fat from one burger, once in a while. In fact, that junk food article explains how some of the "healthier" foods have more calories, have more fat, less protein, less nutrition... and are more expensive. It's a long, long article, but you should read it, just for another side of the story. Yes, processed foods are bad, but you'd think limiting yourself so severely that you are in a constant state of craving or lacking nutritionally would be bad too.

Aside from food and calories and all of that shit...

You realize that somewhere along the line we got serious as "adults" and stopped moving for the fun of it and started instead criticizing our bodies and others around us. I also read this article this morning: What my daughter taught me about body image. I don't have a daughter, but I can see how the way we live our lives as children sometimes needs to carry over to how we see ourselves as adults.

While body hatred has become widespread for adult women — and increasingly men — we only need to look at children to know the difference between what’s natural and what’s culturally imposed nonsense.
There's much more I could quote from that article, but I will just suggest you read it for yourself.

In the end, it shouldn't be so hard. Strive to be healthy, but make sure that includes your mind, too. If you spend most of your time beating yourself up for how you look in your jeans or how slow you run or how terrible you think you should feel after you eat a brownie, you're not helping yourself in any way. Remember that society has unrealistic expectations and focuses on our bodies and how they should look, when no one (not even the actresses or models used as "examples") really looks like that.

I don't think this topic will die down any time soon. But I read this quote the other day and thought it was interesting:

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” — Dr. Gail Dines

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