Friday, July 29, 2011

An Epidemic Causing Another

I don't accept any sort of new idea when it comes to eating.  "Low Carb." "Sugar free." "Fat Free."  Those labels on foods both crack me up and make me sad.  Of course beef jerky is "low carb"... I wasn't exactly looking for my daily amount there.  Sugar free generally indicates a faux sugar.  The amount of people I know who drink diet coke makes me want to throw up. The aspartame has been found to decompose into a variety of fun things such as formaldehyde at a lower temp than your body is at.  No, it's not funny.  No, I don't get the jokes about it making you well preserved, because last time I checked, it's a poison.

I eat bread.  And potatoes (which with the skin are full of nutrients).  And pasta.  Oh, and even white rice (generally basmati).  Carbs will not kill you, in fact there is a reason they continue to be one of the most important food groups.  It is about balance.  Healthy carbs.  Not Iron Kids Bread (which has an ingredient list as long as my arm and which G freaks out over because "it's squishy."), but choosing whole grains bread.  Bread really only should have certain ingredients in it: some sort of flour (generally enriched makes me irritated as if you were eating healthy it wouldn't need to be), possibly grains, yeast, sugar or honey, water, butter, and salt.  If it has additional things, you probably shouldn't be eating it.  I've seen bread with preservative go bad quicker than anything I've made homemade.  Why?  Because while mine may dry out a bit (then it gets used for toast), it usually doesn't have anything to go bad as long as we actually eat it.

Portion sizes with carbs have a lot to do with this issue.  If we're eating things like pasta or potatoes I don't serve bread at the table as a general rule of thumb.  In courses, there might be a slice of baguette with soup.  But outside of that, I just don't.  Pasta shouldn't be the main part of a meal.  I understand that goes against the grain, but it's the truth.  A small portion of it with protein and veggies is what you should be having.  I've seen guys who can pack away in less than half an hour enough pasta to feed 3-4 people.  It's disturbing.  Same goes for potatoes.  When we make roasted potatoes we each get 4-6 small potatoes.  When we do baked potatoes, we either choose smaller potatoes or we split a larger one.  A serving of mashed potatoes is about the size of a larger scoop of ice cream.  (and for the love of all that is good about food, please use real things in your mashed potatoes, not nickel laced margarine!)

** I would like to interject here that I know athletes who carb load and that is an entirely different thing.  They're packing their bodies with a fuel for a grueling workout on their body.  The average person should not be carb loading.**

Fat free also amuses me.  I eat a lot of fat free or low fat: it's called fruits, veggies...and yes, sugar.  But I also eat a lot of normal fats.  Butter, coconut oil, lard...these all have a place in my home.  I drink whole milk (I balked at first when G wanted to buy it, but now even 2 percent tastes off to me).  What it comes down to is where you are getting your fats.  Butter spread on toast in the morning? Yum and good for you (as long as you're not eating crap bread, but that's another matter).  Deep fried twinkie? Not so good (okay, flat out bad).  Does it mean you should never eat that deep fried twinkie? (well, I find plain twinkies gross, so I'm a bad judge).  No, it doesn't... but it should be a once a year oddity at the fair sort of thing.

Now, sugar.  Hmm.  I understand there are people who get addicted to it and have to basically cut it out as much as possible for health reasons.  I also understand that there is a big difference between occasionally indulging in a delicious, rich, well made dessert and someone who has to have a hostess cupcake every afternoon.  If you find you have a problem with sugar, then yes, you need to cut it out.  But not by substituting faux sugars that your body doesn't recognize as sugar, so when you eat any real sugar it stores it as fat (which for the record is what scientists discovered is happening).  You're better off just cutting sweet things out, and letting your body slowly get back to a place where it recognizes "sweet" as a taste with more normal things, such as fruit or dark chocolate.  I love sweets... it's just the things I find sweet may not be what you find sweet.  In baking, try to slowly cut back the amount of sugar recommended.

Our country (and now others) keeps coming up with b.s. like these, only to see obesity rates rise.  There are a lot of contributing factors to this (including eating like you move a lot during the day when in fact you sit behind a desk), but I do think that the correlation has more to do with diet (as that has more to do with weight than exercise).

What's your take on it?


  1. Really interesting post and I agree with everything you said. Luckily for me, getting fresh baked bread with absolutely no preservatives is so easy here in France. There's a reason France is known for its baguettes! But I often choose whole grain bread because I'm not a fan of white.

    I've also noticed that over the last year, I've really made an effort to cut out as much processed food as I could from my diet. Growing up, my mom used to pack our lunches with processed snack cakes, cookies, pudding cups etc. and for a long time I was hooked on the simple sugars and carbs. The other day I was running late and stopped to grab a packaged snack from a vending machine at work. Well 20 minutes later, my stomach started aching and making strange noises and I had to excuse myself from my lesson! Guess my body is used to the good stuff I put in it now and flat out rejected the medley of preservatives and chemicals in the packaged snack I wolfed down.

    Anyway, a pleasure to read your blog as always. Keep it up!

  2. Your post is about a topic that I feel very passionate about. In our society, we've gotten so confused and messed up when it comes to food. We look to fads or magic pills rather than to the quantity and quality of what we are eating. Years ago I was talking to a woman (who was probably in the obese range) who was on a diet. She was eating candy and told me that it was great that it fit in her diet as it was fat-free! I also see obviously overweight people order diet soft drinks in restaurants and then order a dessert because they "saved" the calories. (Years ago I was a diet soda addict, but now, like you, it makes me ill to see people drinking them.)

    I agree that it's more about what we eat than exercise, although we do need to exercise more. When you look at the restaurant portions, some are more calories than we should eat in a day. And there is no way we can burn it all off - not unless we were pro-football players.

    I think about the way people ate in the 1950s and how they didn't have a weight problem. One difference I see is that people didn't eat out very often; they ate home cooked meals of real foods. Plus they didn't have all the processed snacks we have.

    Sorry to ramble on but this is a very important topic and I have a lot of thoughts about it. Thanks for a good post.

  3. Hi lady! What recipe do you use for your basic bread? Do you have one or several? I am super interested in starting to make my own!