My Turn: Eating healthy is up to each person’s desire
February 23, 2012
TRUCKEE, Calif. – The modern American diet is varied and complex. It seems simple at first glance – just look at our three favorites: fat, sugar, and salt.
Food industries seek to make never-ending combinations of the three, making food addicting, like a drug. Of course, there are some who strive for non-fat diets. And there are those who give up sugar, whether all together, or in the classic on-the-wagon, off-the-wagon fashion.
My husband and I only have dessert on “S” days – Saturday, Sunday, and special occasions. You wouldn’t believe what has been upgraded to a special occasion lately. You don’t hear about many people giving up salt, but healthy eaters are reading labels and have their eye on sodium.
People also like to invent their own diets, devising eating plans that work best for them. “I’m vegetarian but I eat fish” doesn’t make much sense to me, although I have to admit I lived that diet for 12 years or so, from 1989, when I first read “Diet for a New America” which led me to become a vegetarian, to 2001, when the organic, all-natural, grass-fed, free-range, no-antibiotics, grown-locally thing started to take off and become more accessible.
Oh, and I met my husband, who said organic cheeseburgers were good for me. Hook, line, and sinker.
Part of me believes that agreeing about a good cheeseburger is the key to making any marriage work, that, and the “a glass of wine each night is good for you” tale. I had to ask my doctor about that rumor. She actually verified that it was no big deal. The problem only becomes limiting it to one glass. I read an article in a health magazine about the rise in alcoholism among women in their 40s and 50s. It was particularly related to wine consumption. They said it had something to do with “cougar-culture.”
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For those of you living under a rock, a cougar is an older woman in her 40s or 50s who supposedly drinks a lot of wine, preferably Chardonnay, and preys (hence the label) on young, cute guys. Frankly, the label bugs me, mostly because it spreads unrealistic stereotypes throughout our media-driven culture for all to blindly follow, but also because older men have been drinking a lot and picking up much younger women for centuries and we still don’t have some predatory label for them.
Maybe I’m just jealous that I can’t drink a lot of wine and sleep with young cute guys. Nevertheless, at one glass per night, wine seems to be a doctor-approved habit. The latest diet craze is the gluten-free revolution. Who would have thought gluten would be the scapegoat de jour? I know there are people with Celiac, and it is a serious disease, and others still with IBS and other digestive problems, but it is like people blame everything on gluten.
I hear people say “humans weren’t meant to eat bread,” and I have trouble making sense of that. I hear this, or some variation of it, quite a bit. Yesterday it was “humans aren’t supposed to eat dairy.” I wondered what time period they were referring to – pre-cow?
Humans aren’t supposed to do a lot of things. Humans aren’t supposed to dump toxic waste on the earth, or carbon waste in the sky (are you going to stop driving your car too?). Humans aren’t supposed to consume all of the earth’s natural resources in the never-ending search for comfort and convenience. Humans aren’t supposed to shop at Walmart. Oh, I know, I’m not talking about you – you only go in there once in a while when you really need something, and to people watch and say things like “oh the humanity.”
Yeah, so I’m not sure about what humans are supposed to eat and drink, but I guess you can just try to eat as healthy as possible for whoever you are or want to be. Obviously, fruits and vegetables should be the pillar in any healthy diet. For me, I’ll stick to my everything-in-moderation diet and continue to eat bread, cheese and wine because, well, I’m in love with them, and breaking up is out of the question.
We just have to figure out how not to smother each other. For now, my illicit affair with sugar has been limited to weekend rendezvous and special occasions.
This begs the question: Was President’s Day a special occasion?
Whitney Foehl is a Truckee resident.