When bad things happen to good fats



I don’t know about y’all, but I’m super confused about what to eat these days. And you know what? I probably research and think about food issues more than the average person, so imagine how your regular Joe Shmoe feels? Every single gall-darned article you read offers conflicting advice. Eat the meat, don’t eat the meat. Eat the carbs, don’t eat the carbs. Okay eat the carbs but only “resistant” carbs. Eat the fat, don’t eat the fat, unless it’s “good” fat – and what makes it “good,” exactly? (That’s rhetorical. I know what makes a fat good. It gives to charity and likes dogs).

Speaking of which, I was walking my dog and encountered a lovely young lady from the local yoga studio who regaled me with her Ayruvedic diet and how they say that you should “chew” your breakfast, not drink it. Soooo…smoothies are bad? I asked. Yes. Yes, they are. What? Gall-darned it again. Sigh.

The new buzz diet is the ketogenic diet. Basically, it’s vegetables and those lovely good fats and low protein, and again, no carbs. Goal: To make your breath smell. Its proponents say that it turns your body into a fat-burning machine. Used by some medical professionals to control seizures in epileptic children, it’s been adopted by the weight conscious to lose pounds and inches. Check out Diet Doctor. What’s awesome, of course, is that you can also spend a lot of extra cash on ketone meters and ketone urine strips. Just what I want to do every day – pee on paper or prick my finger to check my ketone status. Sigh, again.

And then I was reading a Guardian article yesterday about how “cancer diets” (Everything You Wanted to Know About Cancer Diets) can’t be trusted, and the people shilling for these diets can’t be trusted, and that you should only believe what your doctor tells you and most doctors don’t want to burden their already distressed patients with food restrictions or what not. I get this and I know that it’s almost impossible to study the effects of diet on humans because of the very fact that they’re humans. How can you control for what people put in their mouths? How can you apply the gold standard of research to people unless you have them in virtual lock down with no access to any other kind of food than the food you’re feeding them? Imagine if a scientist relied on self-reporting by his or her subjects for data? They’d be laughed out of the lab, my friends.

And so, doctors and nutritionists and the like will tell people to eat sensibly. What in the bleeping bleep is sensibly? It’s so subjective. I wrote about this frustration in an earlier post on “Normal Eating”. What I consider sensible is inedible to another. When Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants,” I’m afraid he’s shrieking into the wind. Lack of cooking skills, lack of nutritional wisdom, abundance of cheap, processed food, and a food industry that tells us we’re too busy to shop and cook are all complicit in creating a confusing food culture that I think is eroding not just our health, but also our connection to our food and all the lovely things food does for us, which goes far beyond nutritive.

And Pollan once again nails it on the head when he says: “…there are many other reasons to eat food: pleasure, social community, identity, and ritual. Health is not the only thing going on on our plates.”







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