How Food Centric Are We? Why people follow these ridiculous diets
I personally do not agree with anyone following a diet without medical necessity, coming from the “moderation is key” train of thought. However, I do find it extremely funny the reasons why people follow these ridiculous diets. Recently, I found myself in a conversation with a close friend of mine who was midway throughout the whole 30 diet challenge.
At day 21, she decided to stop but not before many Facebook posts stating how much she hated the diet and how many cravings and temptations she had, specifically with the elimination of cream and sugar in her coffee which is taboo in this particular diet, how much time the prep for cooking would take, and so forth. When I asked the question why she chose to do this and was it beneficial in making her feel better, she emphatically responded “NO” and that her and her husband just wanted to eat simple and healthy. She was irritable and moody and was arguing with her husband because of it.
How has this happened?
How has it become such an issue with what we eat that we have let our mental status come second to food choices? We have let others dictate what we should be eating versus what we feel that we should be eating based on preferences with regards to individual taste and time constraints in regards to preparation work.
Michael Pollan is spot on when he states that America has decided to choose the foods we eat based on how many calories, carbohydrates, fats, etc. is involved over our obvious preferences of taste. My friend telling me she didn’t like eggs that much but didn’t have a choice in the matter to eating them every day is just one example. YES YOU DO! The better well informed choice would have been to just eat a more balanced diet of simple whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy. This way one could choose which foods that ate according to taste versus forcing themselves to eat ones they didn’t like at all.
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For instance, I have heard time and time again that Greek yogurt is supposed to be better for you nutritionally than regular yogurt. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter made this claim, “although slightly higher in calories than regular yogurt (100 vs. 80), non-fat Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein in six ounces, compared to 8”. Even with this finding, I couldn’t sway, I still choose my Banilla flavored yogurt over Greek Yogurt simply because I enjoy Banilla yogurt and find it more palatable.
In the article “Why We’re so Fat (and the French are not)”, Paul Rozin explores the paradox that Americans who are food conscious are not as healthy as the French who eat much richer and fatter food choices. Rozin believes that even with our insatiable motivation to decrease our risk for cardiovascular diseases and other health issues, by following fad diets or buying low fat foods, we still have a higher heart disease rate simply because of our genetics, lifestyle, quality of medical care, stress and many other factors, making food choices not the sole reason.
Food media doesn’t make this easy on us either. Information on healthy eating is abundant, contradictory, and sometimes misleading. As a consumer, it’s hard to determine which foods and food practices to shop for and practice. Is fat free good? Should we eat soy vs. milk products? Is the controversial gluten free diet in fact a winner? It is no wonder why Americans can be confused and tend to try any new fad diet the media throws their way.
As for myself personally, each day I make food choices based on my health which argues against what Rozin felt about France and their food choices not influencing their health. I suffer from Crohn’s disease and my son suffers from Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis and with this different foods may irritate us one day and other days not so much.
Therefore, I usually base our food choices solely on how we are doing from day to day. For instance, white rice right now is usually our go to bland food. In the past, however, I try to be a seasonal food shopper. Even though I always buy free range and organic grass fed meats, I try to only buy seasonal fruits and vegetables as much as possible and aim for local as well. In the summer, in the past, I have been a member in community shared agricultural programs which are awesome because not only do I receive a bundle of fresh local vegetables each week but I also give back to my community. I also shop financially conscious, meaning that I dictate what my family will have based on what may/may not be on sale that particular week. Most weeks, I buy only what is on sale because I make the choice to only buy natural, organic, whole foods that may be a little more pricey than the alternative. I also mindfully try to assemble our meals based on MyPlate.
I strongly agree with Michael Pollan’s belief that with each generation, there is a chance to reinvent it’s own cuisine. I can say that our staple foods are much different from when I was a child, ours being white rice, brown rice, and quinoa. I didn’t even know what quinoa was when I was a kid and barely ever had rice unless we ate out and it was ever only rice pilaf. Even with saying this, however, we do have far too much anxiety with food in this generation and it is only getting worse. My husband and I have decided to step away from making food our primary common denominator when getting together with family.
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This article has been titled “Foodcentric we are” because we really have made immediate efforts to move away from that direction. What happened to eating a quick meal and just playing a game outside or a game inside? Until our generation educates themselves of what exemplifies a well balanced diet, I feel as though we are going to be privy to a lot of different and strange diets in our future. As long as I continue to be OK with cream and sugar in my coffee, I will continue to maintain and try my best to follow this mantra.
Ho, Victoria. “11 Healthy Foods to Try in 2011” Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. 2011; 28 (11): 4
Pollan, Michael. “Our national eating disorder”. The New York Times. October 17, 2004.
Rozin, Paul. “Why We’re So Fat (and the French are not)” Psychology Today. 2000; 33 (6): 64.
Guptill A, Copelton D, Lucal B. Food & Society: Principles and Paradoxes. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; 2013.