Real Food

Eat Real Food When one is dieting, the temptation always is to shave off calories wherever you can. The trouble is, a lot of the diet foods out there are so filled with chemical crap that it ceases to be food and becomes what Michael Pollan calls “food-like substances.”

I do have a “food-like substance” vice, and that is diet soda. I grew up drinking it thanks to my mom and her Tab addiction, and my drug of choice is now Pepsi Max. Twice the caffeine, decent taste. But the aspartame thing is a major problem. Artificial sweeteners are now suspect in a number of health problems, and I really do think I should stay away from all but the ones that are derived from natural ingredients, like Stevia extract and Monk Fruit extract. But no, Pepsi Max has aspartame. And I need the caffeine it contains to kick start my brain in the morning.

I probably should stick to coffee and tea, but I would have to acquire a taste for coffee that does not have a huge amount of sugar and milk and chocolate sauce and whatnot, and tea simply does not have the amount of caffeine I need. Maybe that should be my New Year’s Resolution if I did something as lemming-like as do a New Year’s Resolution. Get rid of chemical sweeteners, acquire a taste for black coffee.

The thing about the Diet-Industrial Complex is that one of the ways it can make huge amounts of money is selling packaged diet foods. Especially if you can convince someone the only way they can lose weight is to eat your diet food exclusively. However, that approach to eating is ultimately completely unsustainable. I suppose a person could subsist on frozen or retort pouch entrees for the rest of their life, but I would question the nutritive value of such a regimen. And have you looked at the ingredients on one of those packages? Scary stuff, sounding more like a list of quarantined toxic chemicals than food ingredients.

No, the best way to do this is to 1.) start eating real food; 2.) start cooking real food; 3.) fall in LOVE with real food. The last requires completely healing one’s relationship with food. Tall order, especially in this culture and being my gender. But one thing I suppose I have a head start on is that I grew up before packaged and processed foods were ubiquitous, and when you went to a restaurant, for example, your food would probably be prepared from scratch.

Another protip: real food can usually be prepped in a much healthier fashion than packaged food. Processed and packaged food also tends to be loaded with added sugars and lots and lots of salt. Ugh. Perversely, however, often the more processed and packaged food can be cheaper than real food. This may explain what’s going on in underserved communities, where people paradoxically have little money to spend on food and yet have real problems with obesity.


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