Would Grandpa recognize it as food?..

Ok, along the lines of what I posted earlier, this is a food rant.

Food is a subject that generally seems to make us Americans loony.  We’re not sensible about food in any way.  We generally eat too much of it (which is why airlines have to have rules about what to do with a passenger won’t fit in a seat on one of their planes – you wouldn’t have to have such a rule if encountering such a person was a rare occurance; it’s also why stadium seats at sports arenas have had to be enlarged in the past 10 years), and what we do eat wouldn’t have been recognized as food by our grandparents when they were young.

Think about that for a moment.  Here’s a great quote from The Art of Manliness:

Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, tube, or bag. If your great-grandfather wouldn’t have recognized it as food, then it’s not fit for consumption. Stay away from packaged foods, filled with all sorts of preservatives and additives that allow them to sit on a shelf and stay good for a year. Not only are these additives not good for you, companies formulate their foods to bypass your natural hunger/satiety signals and keep you munching past the point of natural fullness.

We Americans tend to regard food in one of two utterly unhealthy and slightly demented ways: it’s either medicine to be measured and dosed precisely or something we consumer purely for pleasure and indulgence.  Both attitudes are utterly wrong.  The rest of the blog post at the Art of Manliness gets to the heart of the matter and is worth a read.   And it sums up nicely:

  1. Don’t eat anything your grandpa wouldn’t have recognized as food.
  2. Eat protein and plenty of it.
  3. Eat in a relaxed and unhurried way
  4. Eat sensible amounts

Not so tough.  Personally, I’ve been working to keep the packaged foods out of my diet.  One side benefit is that whole, fresh foods cost less.  They also go bad, so that guilts you into eating them instead of other things that you ought to limit your intake of.

The hardest part is the portion control bit.  One trip to a restaurant will throw you for a loop here because restaurants serve us food on plates the size of Texas these days, generally serving portions that are two to three times the amount you should be consuming.   Some folks automatically will halve their restaurant portion and take the rest home.  Not a bad tactic but I can’t seem to make myself do it yet.  Even at home though it’s tempting to go for seconds or load your plate up with food.

Good food makes us feel good.  My curse is that I’m a fairly decent cook.  I generally really, really enjoy the food I cook.  My mashed potatoes are to die for, so it’s hard not to scoop extra onto my plate.  The one tactic that does seem to work is to tell myself that I’m saving this yummy stuff for later, thus making the joy of yummy food continue beyond the meal for which it was prepared.

The other challenge is re-orienting your tastebuds.  We’re programmed to love salty, sweet and fatty foods.  The big food manufacturers manipulate us using this knowledge by loading their packaged snacks and goodies with salt, fat and sugar.  But if you start to avoid this stuff and stick to eating whole and fresh foods you’ll find that the saltiness and the sweetness of packaged stuff is too salty and overly sweet after a while.  And the types of fats they use won’t sit with you as well as natural fats do.

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