Friday, June 30, 2006

Foods to Avoid

My last post refered to an article on the 8 worst foods you can eat. Their article was actually written as a response to an article on MSN about the 10 absolute worst foods you can eat. I thought I'd chime in with my own list, since this is the Internet, and that's what people do on the Internet. I'm probably going to get a lot of people mad at me with this, but hey, I'm not forcing you to read my posts or agree with me.

Fast Food

I could list all the health reasons why you shouldn't eat fast food, but I won't. Truth is, there is some healthful fast food that you can eat. For instance, there's a lot worse things you could do to your body that eat a turkey sub at Subway, and that still qualifies as fast food. But when was the last time you sat down to a good, home-cooked meal with your family and/or friends? This is part of the idea behind the "slow food" movement. I don't care how unhealthful you think ma's biscuits and gravy are; they have the one ingredient that you can't get at the golden arches: love. If you're so worried about health, why don't you try eating your green beans or broccoli for once? She didn't intend those greens as garnish. It scares me to think of how often families decide to go out to eat instead of cooking at home. A couple of weeks ago, I started leaving my notebook at work during the week, so that I wouldn't have any distractions when I got home. When I got home, I no longer spent the time waiting for my wife to get home on the computer; I generally spent that time cooking. When she got home, we would have a nice meal, and then hang out a little. It didn't always work, but when it did, it was nice.

Diet Food

I don't care how popular the Atkin's Diet is. There's nothing healthy about eating saturated fat-laden foods. And yes, I know that snack pack is only 100 calories, but they're empty calories. There wasn't anything healthy about them before they were portion-controlled, and they haven't gotten any better since. Junk food is still junk food. Look, if all these fad diets and diet snack foods were so healthy, don't you think more doctors would be recommending it? But when was the last time you heard your doctor recommend a box of SnackWells? If they were such a huge breakthrough, don't you think the FDA or USDA would be a little more interested? I do believe that the government has a vested interested in our health; dead men pay no taxes. Seriously, don't you think it's maybe just a little cheaper to eat right in the first place than to screw ourselves up and then try to get the doctors to fix it?

Anti-Diet Food

Just because I told you not to eat diet food doesn't mean it's okay to eat non-diet food. Go ahead, eat your veggies, they're good for you. They're not just "rabbit food". I didn't just give you carte blanche to eat half a cow just because it's not diet food. Look, just because it's healthful doesn't mean it's a) flavorless or b) diet food. It's entirely possible to make healthful food taste good. Tofu doesn't have to be horrible. Neither does eggplant. I've had many a stir-fry with tofu that I honestly thought was extremely flavorful pork or chicken at first. Alton Brown's eggplant recipes are fabulous. You should try them sometime. Asparagus, properly cooked, can be really, really tasty.

Snack Food

I'm not talking about every snack food. I'm just talking about the stuff that you're eating. That Snickers bar isn't winning you any marathons. Look, it's not such a bad thing to snack on carrot or celery sticks. Not flavorful enough? Go ahead and dip that celery stick in a little natural peanut butter. No, not the kind that never requires any stirring or refrigeration. I want you to try out the stuff that only has two ingredients on the label: peanuts and salt. Yes, you have to stir it. Yes, you have to keep it in the refrigerator. Yes, it does actually taste pretty good, and is extremely good for you.


Yeah, I know. You like the taste. You drink responsibly. That photo of you dancing half-dressed on the coffee table with a lampshade falling off your head was photoshopped. Look, I know that the experts are telling you that wine is good for the heart. So is grape juice, and as near as I can tell, most kids love grape juice too. You can bond with your kids! Let's face it, beer is nothing but empty calories. It impairs your judgement. It impairs your physical ability. It's also not winning you any marathons. I've met a lot of people in my lifetime that seem to believe that it's not possible to have any fun without alcohol. I've also known a lot of people that seem to manage. I'm not calling for prohibition here. I'd be first to admit that I love the Jack Daniels burger at TGI Fridays. I remember a meeting with the Utah Bakers Dozen where one of the members suggested that using Everclear in your airbrush was a really good way to paint foodstuffs, because it has so much alcohol, it almost immediately evaporates away. I'm certainly not going to drink it. What if I decide that I'm going to get totally trashed, and then suddenly a family member calls for help, because she's stranded on the other side of town with a flat tire? What if a web server crashes and requires my immediate attention? If I'm passed out with a bottle of Jack in my hands, it's going to be a while before I get that page that my monitoring software sent me.


This is what it all comes out to. When I was in cooking school, our nutrition teacher gave us homework the weekend before her class even started. We were to write down everything we ate that weekend. When we came in, we entered it all into the computer, and analysed what we ate. I thought I'd get a head start and make it look like I was already eating pretty healthfully. Not only did I scrap the burgers that weekend, I even bought a bottle of V8 splash. I made sandwiches with turkey and romaine lettuce, on whole wheat bread. I felt like I was cheating. When I came in and put it all into the computer, I was in for a shock. For my height and weight, I should have been eating around 2300 calories a day, just to maintain my weight. My average for that weekend was over 4500 calories/day! And I have been making an effort to eat light! I spent those weeks in nutrition class revising what I ate on a regular basis, and reduced my daily caloric intake to about 1800 (since I had several pounds to lose). Because of that class and that revelation, I left cooking school significantly lighter than when I started, even though all my friends told me I would gain significant poundage from being there.

Look, try some moderation sometime. I know ma's green bean casserole is fabulous. I know you would love just another bite. Let's try holding back a little. You've already had three servings anyway. Maybe you should have just stuck with one. I know that waiter just brought you a lot of food. I know you already felt full half-way through. It's okay, you don't have to finish it all now. Just get a to-go box. That's what they're there for. Imagine your coworkers' jealousy as you finish that bruscetta chicken pasta at lunch tomorrow. It's okay to eat out sometimes, just not all the time. Let's try just thinking a little about what we eat. Did you even stop to taste that double cheeseburger you just wolfed down? Slow down. Chew your food. Try new things. That brings me to what I think I will use to finish up here.

The Usual

I know you love that carbonara. That's why you always order it. Have you tried the chicken marsala? No? Maybe you should give it a try. If you don't like it, you don't have to order it again. Maybe you should try that salad. Maybe it will taste good. Heaven knows it has at least as many calories as the steak, except that ordering a lot of salads in life won't eventually make your arteries sieze. Yes, you can order the steak once in a while. Just don't overdo it, okay?

So that's at least a partial list. If I've made you angry, well, I don't think Blogger has a freeze on new blog signups at the moment. Tell the world why I'm wrong. I'm just some hack anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I was wary when I saw the title, but your list is awesome! My favorite is still the first one. Yay for eating with family! Combining that and another one, though, I have seen it reccommended that when eating at home, don't serve the food family-style. Just give everyone their servings and leave the rest in the kitchen. If they want seconds, they have to get up and get it. It's supposed to be a way to encourage keeping protion sizes down. It's an idea, anyway.


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