Pardon me while I wax a bit soap box-ish for a bit. Today's rant is brought to you by the business section of the news paper. You see, I was perusing this article when this little snippet caught my eye: "You can't even escape petroleum products with a cool fast-food milkshake, which probably has a petrochemical-based thickener."
Excuse me?!?! I mean, I know I'm all about 'eat real food, no unpronounceable ingredients' But really?! Dinosaur goo in a milkshake?! Made me want to swear off fast food right there and then... in fact, that was going to be the main crux of my rant: Want motivation to stick to eating healthy? One word: Petrochemicals.
I sat down with my favorite google seach bar and typed in "Petrochemicals" to find (forgive the pun) fuel for the "Eat Real Food" fire ... and in the first 3 suggestions was "Petrochemicals in food". YES! I apparently am not the only one pi$$ed off about Big Food Companies messing with the unsuspecting public.
After reading through a few articles I was bombarded with how prevalent, wide spread and subversive the use and presence of petroleum products are in this modern day world we live in (seriously! It's worse than high fructose corn syrup!), not to mention the reality of the impact on our health: In that article, Carnegie Mellon chemistry professor Terry Collins stated rather succinctly, "Many of these chemicals are disrupting the human hormone system."
Think about it - the rise of 'minor' endocrine related issues like fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, adrenal/chronic fatigue, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, metabolic syndrome... not to mention things like Alzheimer, autism, and the much more serious cancers. Most are related to a disruption in human endocrine system controlled by hormones.
After reading this article I was outraged (especially the bit at the end about the bug juice.! It's in the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the products we use to wash our bodies, our dishes, our cars, and on and on and on...
It was so overwhelming that /MY/ worst case scenario brain was overloaded... to the point of finally thinking, "Hmmm... That's nice. When's breakfast?"
It would be so very easy at this point to take one of two paths: One path would have me jump on the betterthanyou bandwagon, judging people who go to fast food joints regularly and/or rely on boxed/bagged/frozen food-type products to get a meal on the table and start spewing out all the reasons why people should takeout another mortgage on their house to buy only organic/free range/grass fed foodstuffs (though it would be nice if that was more common place than the problematic mass produced/farmed foodstuffs we have now... but that's another rant for another day.)
The other path would be just giving up and giving in - oh well, it's here to stay, why fight it, just keep pumping these things into our world and into our bodies and sign me up for chemo and the latest & greatest pharma cocktail.
Oddly, after getting a bit overwhelmed and saddened, I realized there is a third path - the middle road. (Imagine that! Me of the 'all things in moderation, even moderation' camp finding a middle road! ;) And ironically it's right on the path of the theme of the week.
I realize that we as a species created this problem ages ago, we're just dealing with a lot of the aftermath right now. Since the dawn of man, humans have been looking for an easier, more efficient way of doing things. Finding the easy button isn't something new at all. Do you think when our hunter/gatherer ancestors moved to an agricultural way of life they had conversations on the long term effects on health, sustainability and environment? No, I'm sure they were just happy they didn't have to risk life, limb and possible starvation tracking down their next meal. Then moving into the industrial age brought about new ways of trying to find the easiest, fastest most efficient ways of producing mass quantities of food for large numbers of people. Enter our current way of life - always on the go, over scheduled, over worked, under rested - and there's an even bigger push to have food be even easier and faster to acquire.
Thing is, when something is all about fast, easy and efficient, there's one thing that's sacrificed each and every time: Quality.
Just like when you're trying to build something, finish a project, etc., and take shortcuts just to get it done, it make look good on the surface, but doesn't have substance.
As I said, this has been a theme for the last several weeks: quick fixes, shortcuts, impatience, etc. These can be the root of the problems that most of face. If we're impatient in the kitchen (ie not take 30-45 minutes a week to plan meals, then 20-40 minutes a day to prepare dinner) we choose the short cut of ordering pizza or going out to eat. That puts a strain on our budgets, and our waistline, which makes us scramble for a quick fix to reverse the effects, turning to pills, potions or crash diets that only make us feel worse and create their own problems.
But I digress... lets go back to that middle road - yes, there's a lot of things in this world that are slowly poisoning us, but instead of rushing headlong into it, we can limit the exposure easily with the beautifully simple principle put forth by Michael Pollan: Eat real food, not a lot, mostly plants.
It's not a huge revelation, or new concept. Even in a seemingly toxic world, the body has the remarkable capacity to heal itself when given good, real food to nourish it.
If your life is stuck in Shortcuts-ville, it's going to take some creative thinking to get yourself out of it to get settled into Real Food Land. Old habits are going to have to left by the way side and new ones are going to have to be established. Solid habits that support a healthy life will carry you to a healthy weight, and keep your health risks to a minimum, not to mention will negate that worry of 'will I gain it back?!'
It's not easy, instant or quick, but it is worth it.... and YOU are worth it!
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