Last night CBC’s Fifth Estate did a program on the evils of sugar that scared the crap out of me. And I keep reading about the horrific effects of my personal drug of choice Diet Coke. Gluten is the current villan in the tricky world of food. Carbs are known killers, but who among us knows the difference between bad carbs and good carbs. Eat local. Eat seasonal. Coffee has rebounded from being a suspected carcinogenic to “some coffee is a good thing”. Red meat is a reviled source of protein but we supposedly need some animal protein – although vegans and vegetarians will disagree with this.
My head is swimming with so many do’s and don’ts about what I should and should not eat that it’s hardly worth bothering anymore.Â The “Eat Right for Your Blood Type”, “Fit For Life”, “The Kind Diet”, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” and various other dictums offer conflicting and often just plain bad advice on how we should fuel our bodies. My bookshelves are sagging with dozens of books like this. Every time I see a new so-called expert promoting their “eat-your-way-to-good-health-and live-forever” book I cover my eyes, plug my ears and make myself promise I won’t get sucked in again. I’m going broke buying these books and the end result of trying to implement the various plans is nothing but stress and anxiety.
Thanks to the wisdom of a Naturopath and Weight Watchers over the years, I have tracked my poisons to the nth degree and I’m sick and tired of the whole thing. I have a pretty fair idea of what is good and bad for me and every time I bite into a crispy piece of toast and jam or a nice fresh butter tart I’m filled with self-loathing. And I’m not alone. All my friends have also become carb-calorie-sugar-preservatives-GMO-watching vigilantes. And while we may live to be 150, we’re not enjoying food anymore.
When I was growing up in small-town Ontario in the 50s, our family ate three meals a day – at home – breakfast, dinner (as the midday meal was called then) and supper. Today’s lifestyles do not permit that kind of routine. Breakfast consisted of cereal and toast, usually with a cup of tea and small glass of orange juice. Supper was meat, potatoes, a vegetable and a dessert of pudding, pie, cake or something similar and sweet. The midday meal was leftovers from the night before. Which means we ate potatoes twice a day, half the time fried in butter or bacon fat in a cast iron frying pan, and two desserts each day.Â Yet, we were all thin and fit. Like most families then, we never ate out in a restaurant. Fast food did not exist. Restaurants were luxuries.Â I’d never tasted pizza or Chinese food until I left home to move to Toronto at the age of 17 to go to work.
Ironically, we still buy into the dog food companies’ marketing dictates about only their food being suitable for our four-legged family members. Logically, if we humans should be eating only fresh, organic, locally-grown foods from each of the food groups, why would we feed our pets the cardboardy processed kibble that passes as pet food. Even my little Yorkie knows a good thing when she sees it. I feed her half and half – processed commercial dog food mixed with good quality human food like carrots, chicken, steak, broccoli, fish oil etc.Â She cleverly separates the real food from the processed food eating only the human food and licking the exterior surface of the dog food clean but leaving it in her bowl. Who says dogs can’t taste the difference. My girlfriend’s farm dog even refused to eat the Kraft processed cheese slices she gave him. What does that say about our food choices.
Today we have infinite choices in fresh, prepared, take-out and exotic foods. And a multi-billion dollar industry has been built around telling us what to eat and what to avoid. This steady barrage of food-related dogma has just plain worn me down. Think I’ll go have a cup of tea and piece of banana bread and read my new book – The Supercharged Hormone Diet. That should make me feel better.
There is something to be said about being raised on a farm. Eating was a simple and enjoyable event before we discovered processed foods and were able to read how much fat or sugar was in a packaged product.