Why Eat Food?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the messages we get about food from our culture. When I am at the gym, there is a magazine rack. When living in the states, I subscribed to Oprah (loved Martha Beck’s column) and Health, in addition to some others. I used to subscribe to Cooking Light as well. Almost every magazine I see these days has an article about the functional aspects of this or that ingredient. This food is a superfood because it has this special chemical and if you ingest it regularly, you will gain superhuman powers. The articles promise enhanced energy, metabolism, digestion, libidos, problem solving.
When is  blueberry just a blueberry?
Don’t get me wrong, education is powerful. I want women to know that yogurt is good because of its protein and probiotics, but when I eat it because of those things only, I risk losing a sense of soulishness with it. I strip it down into a categorical function and equation, and can become to rule bound.
So, I am asking one of my favorite bloggers who has always supported me, Ms. Gina, to chipper up and share a few thoughts with me:

Health food is a big business. I just read this: http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/the_function_of_food/C564/L564/ Money talks, that’s for sure.
What is your take?
First; when it comes to functional foods, I have mixed opinions about them.  I think the food companies are taking this idea way too far.  Why are they?  Because people will buy anything that they believe will make them “healthier”, in an easy to obtain way. The article you gave me provided the example of pumpkin probiotics into ketchup.  Some people may not want to eat yogurt for probiotics, so if they can now have an excuse to eat a bunch of ketchup, which is now a bit “healthier” they will buy it!  It’s still not healthy in my opinion.  Some functional foods, such as the margarine’s with plant stanols and sterols, which can help block the absoprtion of cholesterol, are better in my opinion because they usually have other benefits to them as well.  Such as the Smart Balance margarine products.  They are lower in fat and calories than regular margarines and butters.

K’s response:  Lower  anc calories DOES NOT always mean Healtheir, though. The real deal often has less ingredients and satisfying taste. 

Quick: You’ve got $10. What three things would you buy at the store?

I would hit the produce section and by sweet potatoes, bananas, spinach, and avocado!

What do you think people who read your blog are hungry for?

Something new and refreshing.  I am an RD who doesn’t really always play by the “rules”.  I’m not against artificial sweeteners, or canned foods, or real cheese, I’m all about it!  I just like to stress moderation.  ANYTHING in moderation.  I practice what I preach, most of the time, and I admit when I don’t.  No one is perfect, and I know I’m not.  Sometimes I like to go out and well, get drunk!  It’s not something I do every week, and when I do I never drive, but hey, you only live once, right?  I also eat dessert every night, without fail, but it’s a smaller portion and it usually contains other healthy ingredients, like berries.  Overall I like to think of myself as a nutrition guru who tells it like it is.  I don’t give my readers information that I don’t find interesting myself, and I also correct myself when I’m wrong (and trust me, I am sometimes!).

Is there a sense of constant “you are not okay” in the health business? Meaning, we are always finding something to treat?

Companies want to make money.  If they see a problem, and an avenue to fix it, they will find that avenue and they will try their hardest to sell it.  Our society is focused so much on “treatment” and not enough on “prevention”.  Currently with my new business, we are finding out that it’s hard to provide dietary consulting to those who are HEALTHY.  Why?  Their insurance doesn’t cover the visit unless they are SICK.  That’s crazy!  Something needs to change.  I’m counting on Obama to make this switch from “treatment” to “prevention”.  If he doesn’t do it, who will?  Something needs to be done NOW, not next year, but NOW!

What is one nutrition behavior I can do today to foster soulishness?

Start living by your own rules, and not the rules of other people.  This is not to say go out and eat whatever you want, it’s more about being an individual and coming up with your own way to be healthy and well. Don’t follow other people other trends that you may not necessarily like, simply because it’s popular.  Be your own person, learn what is healthy and what is now, and find your own “healthy living lifestyle”.  What’s good for you may not be good for the next person.  Live by the motto that you are your own person and you do what is right for you.  Others will follow, in their own unique way.

K’s response: I actually believe that if people went out and ate what they wanted, what their body TRULY wanted, it would come to a natural size. Maybe that’s bigger for some, smaller than others. Did you know that Americans say “guilt” after hearing Chocolate Cake, and the French “celebration?” We’ve taken “eat what you want” to mean “lack of willpower” or “laziness”. I admire people who satisfy their hungers. Maybe the “health” business needs to educate us (me first, please) on honoring our hunger rather than numbing it.  

THANKS GINA! Seriously, I admire your soulishness in your blog!

PS: This is inspired by Michael Pollan’s work! He argues about a National Eating Disorder, and I can’t agree more. Although I am mostly surrounded byAmericans, on my travels, Europeans don’t “buy” into dieting so much. There’s no sugar free section in the markets …what do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Why Eat Food?

  1. I enjoy reading your posts, especially this one. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the whole food business. In the end, food is just what it’s meant to be: food. It’s there to fuel us. I don’t like when people say that some food is BAD. I also don’t like when people talk about food as say: go on, treat yourself. Food is not bad and should not function as a treat either. I try to live by the ‘anything in moderation’ rule. I do make informed choices and enjoy knowing what I am putting in my body. I don’t over-analyse it though as I used to in the past (doing the whole macro counting etc.) as it drove me mad. :-)

  2. wow i love this post. i agree 100%: since when is food not food? yes some foods will give you health benefits but i think that by simply enjoying food and not worrying about whether or not youre hitting XX amount of superfoods a day is the best way to live. definitely something i’m working on as i tend to see food as a way to get my maximum training. not a bad thing per se but sometimes the enjoyment factor just isn’t there and i’m honoring my training rather than my hunger. it’s a balancing act for sure

  3. Love the Q & A with Gina! I almost always agree with everything she says. And you make a good point about the food messages we get from our culture. I try to focus on nutritious foods but I also make sure I am enjoying these foods. I don’t enjoy foods as much if I’m eating them just because they’re “healthy”. And I always allow my self to splurge on desserts and wine & beer.

  4. Thanks for the comment! I have just a few more weeks here in Berlin. However recently, I have discovered a DIET CHOCOLATE section in one of the grocery stores? How horribly incredible is that?
    I agree with your post, and tend to live by those rules. I was raised by someone who grew up in a time and place when food was hard to come by, so food was always presented to me as something to relish and enjoy and be thankful for. It definitely is a question of cultural standards. Media tells us, women especially, that we will be perceived as healthy, beautiful and conscientious, if we purchuse/consume certain products. And it certainly goes beyond food. It was shocking to go to college and meet girls who had been more or less traumatized by their parents/peers into being obsessed with what they consumed. I sometimes wonder if food marketing disappeared for a while, if we could be trusted to use instinct and smarts to figure what was good to feed ourselves on our own.
    I guess I take the easy way out by listening just to what my stomach and taste buds are telling, because I trust that they know what my body needs quite well.
    Wow, maybe I should have written a reply blog, haha.
    Anyway, I hope that you are enjoying Germany! What brought you to Landstuhl? What a great name for a place, huh?

  5. Great post! I believe in eating healthy whole foods… but even then practice moderation. Part of the eating problem in our country is that we are always on a go…. we eat in our cars.. .at our desks.. we eat to be eating we don’t eat to enjoy something. In Europe they at least try to take a break when its time to eat. They enjoy and savor their meals and are not rushed.. although after my last visit I realized how much our unhealthy habits are transferring over there…

  6. Great post! I believe in eating healthy whole foods… but even then practice moderation. Part of the eating problem in our country is that we are always on a go…. we eat in our cars.. .at our desks.. we eat to be eating we don’t eat to enjoy something. In Europe they at least try to take a break when its time to eat. They enjoy and savor their meals and are not rushed.. although after my last visit I realized how much our unhealthy habits are transferring over there…
    P.S.: Forgot to add good post!

  7. Thanks so much for doing this post. You really took my answers and made it into a fascinating post. I have been reading more about Michael Pollen, and while I don’t agree about everything he says (he sort of talks down to RDs, and puts them all in the same category) I do think he is right in that our Nation is going through a “National Eating Disorder”. In other words, our food companies and label laws are making it so easy to become obsessed, in an Unhealthy way, with being healthy! It just does’t make sense. What ever happened to the basic food guide pyramid recommendations? Eating a well rounded diet, with whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies? Will we ever get that back?!

  8. Ever the instigator of interesting topics! I enjoyed the Pollan article, thanks for posting. It’s just exhausting to be assaulted by fat-free, sugar-free, chemical-laden fakeness all the time. Simply for the sake of simplicity–not just taste, cost, health & avoiding needless over-packaging–it’s easier to slink around the perimeter of a grocery store to get all the necessities.

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