Advertising is an insidious process. When print media bolster television commercial messages, it gives consumers the impression that all of them are telling you the same truths ... which couldn't be FURTHER from what actually IS true.
The same people who are trying to sell you their processed foods are financing the diet-advice industry (dieticians and nutritionists) AND all those "health charities" which I rant against. It is in their best interests (NOT YOURS) to convince you that moderation is the cornerstone of good nutrition, and that if you fail using their faulty paradigm, it's YOUR fault, not theirs.
It's what mainstream America believes in, but every woman over the age of 35 (and men over about 50) should have realized by now that it's just plain LIES. Who benefits when you eat moderate quantities of three kinds of junk food? Certainly not you.
The trick is, you KNOW that Doritos and ice cream and pizza are junk foods, but what they're trying to hide from you is that these foodstuffs are, too:
- breakfast cereals;
- most yogurt;
- breads and crackers (yes, even the whole-grain kind);
- low-fat dairy products;
- juices, both fruit and vegetables such as carrot;
- mashed potatoes and other flavored potato preparations;
- modern fruits, especially "tropical" ones;
- coffee and tea drinks which are essentially milkshakes;
- "vegetable oils" and everything cooked or served with them;
- ...and many more items which won't occur to me till after I hit the "publish" button.
The study of nutrition has used a lot of very unscientific methods, to begin with. Do you know why "everybody" says that fiber is good for you? Because fiber makes big poops, and a medical-missionary in Africa HAD A NOTION that big poops protect against the "diseases of civilization." THAT'S ALL. Further studies that looked at "people who eat a lot of fiber" and decided that they were healthier than people who don't, were considered proof of this. The problem is that people who eat a lot of vegetables are careful about their health in other ways as well. When scientists finally tested that hypothesis properly, by taking two "identical" groups of people and telling one to go on eating the way they usually do, and telling the other group to eat X-number of vegetables per day, that "healthy-user bias" disappeared.
More fiber did NOT protect against breast cancer in a series of prospective studies (the kind I described above), but you'll STILL find "responsible" medical authorities claiming it does. It's a LIE.
More fiber did NOT protect against cancer of the "eliminative organs" ... in fact, it INCREASED IT by a small amount. You'll still find people who claim that fiber is protective. That's ANOTHER LIE.
Why do doctors tell patients lies like these? Why do the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics LIE about this stuff???
Unless a physician has special interest in the science of nutrition, s/he knows nothing more than you do, from reading magazines and watching television. They get virtually no education on nutrition in medical school -- as a matter of fact they are explicitly TAUGHT that WHAT you eat doesn't affect your health, merely how much. In the real world, we ALL know that THAT is just another lie.
Who promulgates ideas like these? As with everything else in modern society, all you have to do to find out is "follow the money."
When you've been convinced that moderation is all that's necessary, the people who benefit are those who are selling you moderate quantities of junk foods. When moderate quantities of junk foods make you moderately overweight, WeightWatchers, Nutrasystems, JennyCraig and the fitness industry start getting their cut. Moderate quantities of gym memberships encourage IMmoderate quantities of exercise because "everyone knows" that exercise will burn those calories right off ... except that it doesn't.*
When the moderation of unhealthy foodstuffs AND exercise has left you with damaged knees and plantar fasciitis and moderate obesity and diabetes, the medical and pharmaceutical industries step in for their piece of the pie.
See, when people are convinced they can be moderate when they SHOULD be abstemious with their treats, everybody wins ... except YOU. Our society has been telling us for a very long time that we can have it all, but we can't. We've been brainwashed to think that medicine can cure almost everything, but IT can't. Experience shows that when we over-do anything there is a price to be paid. And we need to remember, that nobody cares about our quality of life, except our own selves.
WE have to take care of ourselves -- no one else can or will. WE need to do the prudent thing. It's like when our childhood rivals used to dare us to do stupid things, and call us cowards if we used our brains and refused. "C'mon, it's only a cookie!" is our adult version of this phenomenon. Of course, the cookie was on top of the sugary cocktail to start, and the huge plate-full which made up the main course, etc.
The only thing to moderate is moderation itself, if I may paraphrase FDR.
Industrial farming has changed everything we eat, so that the nutrients which used to be in foods aren't there anymore, but our fruits and vegetables DO have significantly more sugar bred into them than they used to. Take onions as a prime example -- remember when we used to have to carefully choose them so as to get milder rather than "hotter" specimens? Nowadays it's not easy to find one that isn't sweet, like the Vidalias and 1015s. When was the last time your eyes stung when you diced one?
You have to remember that when you eat any carbohydrate food, even those "healthy fruits and vegetables," any starch in them is broken down to sugar by the digestive processes. What we were told decades ago about "complex carbohydrates" was very inaccurate -- sure, the cellulose in them slows down the conversion of starch-to-sugar, but with little exception every single molecule of sugar WILL be processed by your body in the end. And the more ground-up they are, the more easily the last little morsel of yumminess adds to our waistlines....
If you care about your health, you HAVE to draw a line in the sand. You CAN'T have it all, unless "all" includes heart disease, diabetes and cancer, in your definition. You may have to be very hard-line if your well-being has fallen a long way already, to get back up to a place where you can indulge a little bit. Because most of what you've learned about what's healthy, through newspaper, magazine, television, and even modern book-publishing, isn't presented as a public service, to help you feel better. It's designed to make somebody money.
By telling everyone they can have everything in moderation, they're giving people permission to indulge themselves. They're telling people what they want to hear. Do YOU want to hear that you'll have to control your diet for the rest of your life, in order to maintain a safe weight and stave off cancer and dementia?
No, I didn't think you did. But it's IMPORTANT. I sure as hell don't want to end my life in a diaper, doped to the eyebrows with psych drugs, and weighing 300 pounds. Nor do I want to die a pathetic skeleton on a hospice bed. If i'm lucky, i'll go like that 90-something-year-old, who took a spill while surfing, got cracked on the head by his board, and drowned -- in an accident while enjoying an adventure!
* Exercise has benefits, but is inadequate for regaining your figure. More on that later.