Whatever food or beverage you mention, over the years, you can find stories that say it’s good for you or it will kill you faster than a speeding bullet. Look at butter, trans-fats, eggs, wine, coffee, chocolate, red meats, fish, fruit, vegetables…it’s all the same story. It just seems there’s no food that’s healthy. So, what do we do and how do we live with the knowledge that everything we consume might kill us? The answer is stunningly simple.
Butter, Eggs, Meats, Cholesterol And Trans-fats: When I was growing up, there was a very strong effort to reduce or eliminate cholesterol in the diet. Butter (along with milk, cream, cheese, meats, etc.) hit the top of the 10 most despised foods list. It became common knowledge that margarine was much better for you than butter. People everywhere, including medical professionals, were proclaiming the health benefits of switching from butter to margarine. Now that more research has been done and more studies produced, it turns out that the trans-fats in most margarines will kill you, if we’re to believe the media. Our politicians seem to believe it, because trans-fats are becoming illegal. Will someone tell me which is worse for me, so I can decide what to put on my fat free, salt free, low carb toast? All the other stuff tastes like plastic, and besides, I know once I change to one of these other things there will be a study to show it’s the worst of all.
To add insult to injury, new studies are revealing stuff we never knew about cholesterols and animal products. It’s true, for instance, that cholesterol problems aren’t just from bad eating habits…genes have a lot to do with it. Some people can eat a lot more cholesterol with no harm. Some of us produce unhealthy amounts of cholesterol despite a strict diet. Thanks Dad! There are medicines for that! Now, some cholesterols are good. Some other fats are good. We’re also discovering that strict avoidance of animal products produces protein deficiencies. Heavy amounts of soy products can help with that, but then there’s the sodium issue. Sure, we can load up on seafood, but we could die from heavy metal poisoning and too much sodium. So, at least until the next series of studies are published, animal products are back on the menu.
Beverages, Wine, Coffee, Etc: In my lifetime, wine has been good for you and bad for you several times. This issue is so old, even the Bible says wine is bad, good, and even medicinal. In the 2,000 years since the Bible was written, science seems to have proven all three claims to be correct about wine and other alcohols. First, they say it’s “empty calories,” causes weight gain, destroys the liver, leads to addiction. Then, they say it’s good for relaxation and stress reduction. Finally, it’s full of antioxidants, so it helps fight cancer and delay aging. Coffee, they said, causes high blood pressure, but now they’re finding all kinds of benefits from coffee. Even tobacco, one of our most evil inventions, is being found to help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Sure, cola, with or without sugar, will kill you now, but who is to say they won’t find out it cures heart disease in the next few years. Actually, they’ve already found that the caffeine helps with migraines and asthma. Green tea is the holy grail of the healthy beverage faithful, but in five years, I have no doubt they’ll find some disease to pin on it.
Chocolate: My favorite food deserves a segment all it’s own. I still don’t know why it isn’t in the new food pyramid. Everyone knows the evils of chocolate. The fats in it will clog your arteries, leading to heart attack and stroke. The sugars in it will make you obese, leading to diabetes, blindness, kidney failure, cancer, heat attack, stroke and worst of all…weight discrimination. There is no end to the evils of chocolate.
But wait! Chocolate has now been found to be good for you…especially sugar-free dark chocolate. In addition to stimulants to help you stay alert and curb your appetite, chocolate produces a relaxed feeling, helpful in managing stress and mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Long known as the love candy, recent studies show chocolate actually causes the body to release the same chemicals released during sexual activity. Now you can have that pleasure and excitement without all the small-talk or the expensive dinner out. That’s not all! Chocolate is also rich in anti-oxidants, so it helps fight cancer and aging.
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables: Long known as the healthiest foods, these garden products are not off the hook, either. Many health food staples, like carrots, contain dangerously high levels carbohydrates. All fruits are guilty of this. Avocado’s are very high in fats. Celery and soy bean products are high in sodium. Most fruits and vegetables were raised using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Some are genetically altered. The jury is still out on whether these methods are harmful…many reports suggest they are. Even those grown “organically” aren’t completely safe, as we’ve recently discovered concerning spinach.
How To Have Healthy Foods: Well, this can be pretty depressing. So, what do we do? If we stop eating or drinking everything that’s been reported to be bad for us, it only takes 3 days to a few weeks to die…from starvation and dehydration. That’s because everything, according to some report, is bad for us. According to Patricia Zifferblatt of the Better Life Institute, “A little bit won’t make your eyes fall out.”
Really, let’s get off our food anxiety and just eat a regular, balanced diet from all of the food groups. Unless you suffer from alcoholism, have a drink every now and then. Have some chocolate…I eat a serving of sugar-free dark chocolate almost every day and I’m losing weight while my glucose and blood fats stay within the normal range. Enjoy a good steak or a plate of pork ribs every now and then. You can eat healthy and still have these things. There is more to food than fuel for the body…it’s also fuel for the soul. If you plan on staying alive, then live!