Sunday, February 10, 2013
... said the dog before sticking his nose into the cat litter box.
I apologize for introducing my topic by grossing you out. If you were eating dinner, too bad, that's not something you should do in front of the computer anyhow.
But I'm trying to make a point, so bear with me and beat me up when I'm done if you wish.
What is a "food group" anyhow?
Well, it depends on who you ask. One could consider vegetables, meats, grains, fruit, dairy etc. food groups. That seems to be the most common use of the word. By that definition many people who are allergic or sensitive have to eliminate whole food groups.
Then one could consider carbohydrates, proteins and fat food groups, but usually those are called macro-nutrients, same with vitamins and minerals which are usually lumped together as micro-nutrients. Out of the macro-nutrients only protein is truly essential on a short term basis, meaning we could survive, and even thrive for quite a while if they were eliminated. Even a very thin person has about 40,000 calories stored as fat. Our body can make sugar from protein in the liver (gluco-neogenesis) that is absolutely needed for brain function. Of the micro-nutrients most are essential, some the body can produce.
We can also distinguish foods into natural and processed foods with the second category having many levels, from simple freezing, chopping or cooking to very elaborate chemical processes. Most people know that most highly processed foods can safely be eliminated and are definitely not essential for a healthy person, quite the opposite.
And then there is yet another definition of food groups, the one that makes the least sense of all, and that leads me back to my original example: Foods that we commonly eat and are in a strong habit of eating or like to eat or foods that have been presented to us on a regular basis and that we consider "normal food" for that reason.
The question is why would anyone even consider such a non-sensical definition of food group? I can only think of a few reasons:
-The person could be addicted to the food and justify/rationalize using it. An example of this would be wheat or sugar or alcohol.
-The person was exposed to this food for a long time and everyone around them frequently ate that food. An example of this would be trans fats, corn, peanut butter and jelly (for Americans) and wheat and sugar fall in this category as well.
-Someone put a lot of energy and effort into convincing us that this is indeed a worthwhile and/or essential food. A good example for this is fast food and frozen dinners, because we are convinced that they save us time. Whole grains and soy and peanut butter may also fall into this category.
Most of us simply don't have the energy to wade through mountains of information on the internet, much of which is contradictory, to determine the right way to eat. Therefore the above approach, "I shouldn't eliminate whole food groups" seems to be a way to eat somewhat balanced and avoid the worst mistakes.
Let me suggest an alternative: Invest a few hours, maybe a total of 10, to research very different approaches to healthy eating over the course of a month. Even if you have to take this time out of your precious exercise time I think it will be worth it in the long run. Read about several very different approaches that many people consider healthy nutrition, maybe vegan, paleo, low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, organic... whatever has been suggested to you.
If you were to buy a new car you would do your research (I hope). You want to get a good return for your investment. With a car purchase all that's at stake is your money. With your food purchases your life is at stake.
I want to encourage you to learn enough to where you have a clear understanding about which food groups are truly essential for health and which ones are just advertised as such by interest groups that want nothing but your money.
If you are wondering if some foods may have an addictive hold on you try to eliminate them for a month. You may be surprised.
And if necessary, put a pressure-gate in front of the room that has the cat litter box in it.