Food Wars

Hey-ho there. Guess what.


There's a number of things I am really passionate about - including dancing, Nightwish, gay rights - and food. I love eating. But. Like so many these days, I too have a somewhat complicated relationship with food. However I have a habit of loudly mocking all kinds trendy diets that are mostly based on excluding this and that substance, or only including certain food ingredients.

I don't even know where to start since there are multiple aspects in the topic that really drive me kind of frustrated but in a slightly amused way. Consider it: as soon as the winter melts away all of the women's magazines suddenly explode with 'how to get into bikini shape' tips -- no wait, first it's 'burn away the Christmas calories'. Then spending the next four months striving for that practically genetically engineered Hollywood super-skinny, yet just perfectly athletic and curvy body type that only a fraction of humanity is able to achieve in the first place. A mission doomed to failure - or an eating disorder, which should probably count as an ever bigger failure.
Come autumn it's all about losing the excess weight gained during summer holidays: start a new hobby, get fit, eat well and be energetic. Faster than you realised, it's Christmas again.

But not only are you always expected to be on some sort of a seasonal diet, you're not even allowed eat normal food during such times. Low-carb, low-fat, sugar-free and wheat-free, raw food, detox and Glycemic Index diet, and don't forget the good old cabbage soup, grapefruit and baby food diets.

Fancy having that on every meal of the day?
Of course the diets constructed around only one or two ingredients are quite extreme. I assume that most people realise one is not able to survive eating only grapefruit for long. These monotonous diet plans are not meant to be a lasting solution for obesity. They don't make you slimmer, as in actually burning that fat tissue you want to rid yourself of. The weight loss gained through radically cutting down calories and replacing balanced meals with cabbage soup is mostly due to changes in your fluid balance and your intestines and belly emptying. If anything, you'll lose muscle tissue which, in a long run, is not very wise since muscle would increase your body's energy consumption even in resting state. And besides muscles look sexy, don't they?
One more thing. When you eventually grow bored of stuffing your face with tasteless vegetable mush and want go back to eating adult food, your body will sure as hell take all the calories it's been denied, and stores them safe in the fat tissue in case you'll decide to start playing with food again. Your body is wise, wiser than you and it wants to keep like a storage of backup nutrition in case of hard times.
But what's this, a fucking nutrition science lecture?

Really what I find disturbing about some diets is that even when their effectiveness has some scientific proof following them correctly demands more knowledge than you average John Smith has. For example the Atkins diet, or any low-carb high-protein diet I guess, is based on a biological state called ketosis where your body basically harnesses its lipids more effectively than it would in a normal state whilst sparing the muscle tissue. I'm not gonna delve into that more profoundly but if you like you can check out the Wikipedia article on the subject. As we're presently not attending a science class I couldn't be arsed to find a more reliable source but that's how it essentially works.
In my home country, Finland, cutting down carbs and preferring fat and protein instead had become extremely popular in the course of the past few years. The problem with this is that when things become popular and start appearing all over the media they get simplified because nobody is going to listen to an chemist going on about ketosis in a prime time TV show while you can instead have good-looking people telling you that it's totally okay to eat steaks and butter and bacon if you just leave all the pasta and potatoes out. Fair enough, they might mention the science behind the super-diet but all the audience wants to hear is that it's simple enough and it works. Rare people can be bothered to find out why it works. And that's where it goes awry.

I've recently read several short articles on the local leading newspaper about how people's cholesterol values have started rising in my country. It's been deduced to have derived from the recent butter boom - Finns going nuts about the prospect of losing weight while still enjoying the taste of saturated fat. Obviously, most of those sporting the low-carb diet and getting their cholesterol alarmingly high are not doing it right. Unfortunately, ignorance in this subject may lead to tragic consequences: soaring cholesterol levels are a serious health risk and expose one for heart attacks for instance. So how does that low-carb fake-fucking-gum-bread taste now, huh?

And you know, if you really really want to eat low-carb food, find out about how to do it safely, study the theory a little: know your shit before messing up with your system.

But I still would recommend going to Italy and eating truckoads of pasta.

No but really. I myself am fond of proteins as well. My fridge and cupboard are usually filled with cottage cheese, quark, natural yoghurt, eggs, tuna, soy in different forms, and at the moment hemp protein powder. I exercise a lot and even though my intention is not build up my muscles and achieve the looks of a femTarzan I do want to nourish my muscles with rather loads of protein and good quality carbs than fat. And besides, most importantly actually, I enjoy eating that stuff and it makes me feel good, which in my opinion should on top of everyone's list of criteria by which we choose our food. If I want to eat a Snickers (which I do more often than not) I bloody well will eat a Snickers and that's the end of it. I believe that by listening to my body and eating whatever I fancy I'll end up being happier and healthier than by forcing myself under the rules of some strict diet. It demands some sort of sensitivity towards your bodily sensations to be able to understand the physical messages your body sends to you but personally, I know when I'm too tired to exercise, when I need salt and when I haven't eaten enough during the day. I suppose many people would say that should they just follow their desires they'd end up consuming nothing but chocolate and chips. What I think is that we are being made feel guilty about eating sweets and being lazy and doing things not labelled under 'productive' which is why those things taste especially pleasurable. Maybe if we stopped criminalising ourselves and just gave in when facing the choice of enjoying some marvellously greasy chocolate tart instead of refusing and having vivid dreams of velvety sea of chocolate in the night, it wouldn't be as common to fall into one or the other extremity in terms of eating.


If I claimed to live as I teach, that I was completely balanced with my diet and never troubled I'd be one massive liar. I loathe my body as much as any woman and I play with my food more than any four-year-old. I overeat when I'm stressed, I get anxious if I miss the day's exercise because according to my logic I thereby haven't deserved to eat as much as I'd probably liked to. It's not easy to convince oneself to change old habits - even less so if we're talking about emotionally triggered reactions.

But take my heed and do not eat low-carb bread for it tastes like cardboard. Seriously.

No comments:

Post a Comment