A Day in the Life of Calories In < Calories Out

A typical day of “calories in < calories out:”

"I am on a 30 day diet. So far I have lost 10 days."

Is this any way to live?

  • Wake up at 4:30 am after about 5-6 hours of sleep. Raises my ghrelin (the hunger stimulating hormone) and lowers my leptin (the satiety stimulating hormone). Lower leptin means lower endorphins. 
  • Coffee with artificial low-fat creamer. Raises my cortisol, stimulates insulin response. 
  • Get to the gym by 5 am. Take an hour long spin class. Physical stress of intense endurance workout raises my cortisol, artificially increases my endorphins. 
  • Down a protein shake (dairy proteins, lactose, and artificial sugar). Stimulate insulin response with lactose and artificial sugar, irritate gut with dairy proteins. 
  • Get to my job, which stresses me out (because I hate my job, because I have a big project on deadline, because I hate my coworkers/my boss/my direct reports, whatever). Cortisol stays raised. 
  • Stomach starts growling at 10 am. Have a Greek yogurt with berries on the bottom. Stimulates another insulin spike, more dairy proteins for the gut.
  • Starving by noon. Have a big salad with tofu, low-fat dressing, and a piece of whole grain bread. Snack on a banana. More gut irritation from soy (lectins and phytates and phytoestrogens, oh my!), bread (gluten, wheat germ agglutinin, etc. Another insulin spike from influx of glucose and fructose from both the low-fat dressing (added sugars to make up for the lack of fat, for taste purposes) and the banana. Promote hormone dysregulation with phytoestrogens in soy. 
  • Start yawning around 1 pm. Desperate to stay awake. Another cup of coffee. Cortisol stays raised, body/mind still physically exhausted. 
  • Starving again by 3 pm. Forage in purse of 100-calorie pack of cookies with goji berries. They’re gluten-free and low calorie so they must be healthy. Also, some doctor on the Today show said that one of the ingredients was a superfood. Superfoods are good for me, so I’ll eat more of them. Feeding my gut processed foods, feeding my liver glucose. More insulin.
  • Leave work and head back to the gym because I am feeling guilty for “not working out hard enough” this morning. Another hour of weights should do it. Drink a Gatorade throughout, to replenish electrolytes. More cortisol, more glucose. Liver is pumping insulin like it’s nobody’s business. Body isn’t hurting for electrolytes, but someone tweeted an article that said I needed them, so…
  • Get home and make dinner. It’s Meatless Monday, so, after weighing and measuring all my portions, it’s gluten-free pasta with soy-meatballs and beans for extra protein and canned spaghetti sauce. Pasta is gluten-free and therefore, in my mind, a weight loss food. Two helpings! More soy. Beans are primarily carbohydrate; proteins are incomplete. Also contain anti-nutrients called “phytates.” Canned spaghetti sauce has added sugar. Gluten-free pasta is still densely packed with carbohydrates, which will be broken down into sugar (glucose) in the body. 
  • Still hungry. Need dessert. Start foraging for anything sugary to take mind off of hunger. Cereal it is: one bowl–okay, two–with fat-free milk. If it’s low fat, it’s okay to have the extra bowl….right? More carbs and sugars, sugars and carbs. Nighttime binge courtesy of leptin resistance and one last wonderful spike/drop in insulin from the sugar eaten for dinner. 
  • Spend about 45 minutes logging all my food and exercise with an online calorie counter. Have used it every day for the last 6 months, so I already know exactly how many calories I’ve eaten, but I’m doing it anyway because I feel guilty if I don’t. May or may not have fudged the pasta and cereal amounts. Secretly hate myself because I know how much I really ate. Not a big enough deficit. Negative self talk as a result of using a calorie counter. “Staying accountable” to my disorder (and who says I have a disorder, huh?) makes me feel like I have a sense of power, even though I’ve actually just lost the last 45 minutes of my life to pointless worrying. 
  • Off to bed. Hating myself for the second bowl of cereal, thinking about chocolate cake. Guess I’ll have to go to the gym twice tomorrow to make up for it. Feeling depressed about it. Stay up late reading on my tablet–shut down around 11 or 12 and then toss and turn before falling into a light and fitful sleep. Cortisol levels kept unnaturally high by the afternoon coffee mean that sleep is going to be disrupted. Blue-white glow from the tablet screen disrupts melatonin production, which helps the body to fall asleep. Melatonin production also thrown off by disruption of natural circadian rhythm (staying up too late, getting up too early). Lack of sleep also promotes leptin resistance and stimulates ghrelin. Excessive exercise (stress) can contribute to depletion of serotonin, which leads to depression. Depression from lack of serotonin can lead to insomnia, which contributes to further serotonin depletion. (Vicious cycle.) 
Mom's logic junk food vs. balanced meal

The wisdom behind the standard American diet…

Okay. So remind me again why this lifestyle is considered healthy? Remind me why we “love” exercising and having to snack all day? Remind me why people get upset when anyone suggests that it’s not dedication but obsession?

If you’re a slave to the foods you eat or the amount of exercise you do because you believe that you’re benefitting from it, ask yourself if that’s helped you lose weight, get fit, or enjoy your life at all.

Eat Good Look Good Feel Good Fitspo

Can we just strike the middle one from our list of priorities? If you’re doing the first and third, then the second just comes naturally.

And if you’ve taken it to the “eat clean” orthorexic extreme (as I most assuredly did), then you’re definitely in the camp that believes that extreme measures are needed to stay healthy. And while I commend you for eliminating the 100-calorie packs of cookies, you’re in the same boat if you’re snacking on homemade gluten free cookies with dried goji berries instead. You’re in the same boat if you believe that you have to down a protein shake or some concoction made with egg whites and fake sugar. You’re in the same boat if you already know in advance how many calories you ate and burned because you’ve used the calorie counter for so long that it’s no longer even a necessary tool (especially if you have the mobile app on your phone because you want to log every morsel of every meal the second you eat it, so you won’t forget).

But we’ve been taught to eat less and move more for so long, that it’s sometimes hard to imagine that there could be another way.

I’ll post next about some of the changes I made this summer, but I’m interested in hearing what you guys have to say. Does any of this sound familiar to you? What does your day look like?

- K.

Dirty Secrets From Eating Clean: Food Addiction, Part II

To read the whole series in order, start here: 

Dirty Secrets From Eating Clean: Food Addiction, Part I

Let me be clear: I was already a food addict. A different kind of food addict, but an addict nonetheless. I’ve been a food addict since I was at least 10 years old.

I can remember back to my Friday night binges on baskets of garlic rolls at Mario’s or Dominic’s, eating between three and six rolls before digging into an adult-sized baked ziti entree; my anticipation of pizza night on Saturdays with Dad, and how we’d have to buy at least two boxes from Pizza Hut because I could knock back five slices on my own–and follow them up with a huge chunk of Tollhouse cookie dough without stopping to consider hunger; my ability to eat both servings of boxed Stouffer’s french bread pizza and still want finish off the tortellini I’d cooked for me and my sister; my insistence that my favorite food–above even chocolate and candy–was bread, and my inability to stop wanting after two and then three pieces of toast for breakfast…

Greasy garlic rolls

I like these more than chocolate.

After the soy-free summer, my tastes changed somewhat. When I cut out processed foods, sugar, and soda, I cleansed my palate of the hyper-sweetened and -salted foods that had “nourished” my childhood. Instead, I became dependent on my breakfast cereal and peanut butter sandwiches, living for my second and third helpings of spaghetti. (And once I reintroduced soy, I reintroduced chocolate–unable to concentrate after lunch in school if I didn’t buy a pack of peanut M&Ms–not because the stimulants in the chocolate helped me focus but because the cravings became more important than anything my teachers had to offer.)

A large part of my anorexia–the part about which I was conscious and in which I was aware of my engagement–was my attempt to control my addiction to volume. The irony here is that “anorexia” literally means “without appetite.” Rarely, I think, is that actually the case with this disease. In my own experience, once I start eating, especially breads, sweets, and even fruits, I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. Even when I’m full. And anorexia, a rejection of that fullness, was the only way (I thought) that I could control myself.

“There is a very simple, inevitable thing that happens to a person who is dieting: When you are not eating enough, your thinking process changes. You begin to be obsessed with food. They’ve done study after study on this, and still we believe that if we cut back fat, sugar, calorie intake, we’ll drop weight just like that and everything will be the same, only thinner. Nothing is the same. You want to talk about food all the time. You want to discuss tastes: What does that taste like? [...] Salty? Sweet? Are you full? You want to taste something all the time. You chew gum, you eat roll after roll of sugar-free Certs, you crunch Tic-Tacs (just one and a half calories each!) You want things to taste intense. All normal approach to food is lost in your frantic search for an explosion of guilt-free flavor in your mouth, an attempt to make your mouth, if not your body, feel full, to fool your mind into satiety. You pour salt or pepper on things. You eat bowls of sugar-coated cereal (no fat). You put honey and raisins on your rice.”

-Marya Hornbacher, Wasted, a Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

When I started my intensely restrictive “eat clean diet,” I thought that I was finally free. I convinced myself that I was no longer hungry, that I was sated by my 100-300 calorie meals. But in the time between meals, I thought about food. I ached for it. And not the dry turkey breast and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli, I ached for sweet and starchy. I used stevia (a “natural” sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant and 200-300x sweeter than sugar) on nearly everything, faking out my tastebuds in order to trick my lizard brain into thinking it was satisfied by egg white pancakes. I ached for my morning oatmeal. I substituted stevia-based whey protein powder for real food in as many meals as I could justify to myself. I spent my entire day in anticipation of my stevia-sweetened casein-and-peanut-butter pudding every night.

Low Calorie, Low Fat Powdered Peanut Butter PB2

And then I discovered low-calorie, low-fat powdered peanut butter, and all bets were off…

And worse, I watched the Food Network obsessively. I subscribed to allrecipes.com and read their daily baking email. I scoured the internet for decadent recipes, reading blogs like Cookie Madness and The Picky Palate so I could live vicariously through someone else’s Pretzel Caramel Shortbread Bars and Brownie Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. I baked, constantly, so that I could at least have the smell of warm cookies saturating the air, enveloping me like an old friend.

Even as a vegan, I was still addicted to sugar and grains. It was all I ate, all I craved.  Moreover, my vegan diet was just an animal-free facsimile of the bodybuilder’s regime: I inflicted upon myself the same rigid routine, eating small meals every 2-3 hours, aching with longing for the next helping. I sweetened my green juice with Stevia, and I couldn’t get through a morning unless I followed my green juice with low-sodium sprouted grain bread. Rice cakes were my midmorning salvation. My sugar addiction found a new home in extra servings of fruit,* wads and wads of bubble gum, packets of stevia poured onto anything that should taste sweet but didn’t. I still looked forward to my after-dinner peanut or almond butter (now with vegan chocolate chips added) with an intensity that defied explanation or avoidance (and I was usually so depressed about finishing my snack that I would open a box of cereal and eat that–dry–and then go to bed feeling painfully full but unsatisfied).

And through it all, the only thing I could think about was the food I couldn’t eat, wasn’t eating, wanted to eat.

- K.

*3 apples a day plus the pear in my green juice, entire 2 lb. bags of grapes in one sitting, etc.

Acne and ED, Part III: Un-Becoming Vegan

Update: If you want to read the whole series in order, start here: 

Acne and ED, Part I: How Vegan Began

Acne and ED, Part II: The Never Ending Detox

As I became more and more invested in my mostly-raw vegan diet, my face become more and more pockmarked and scarred. Despite my pristine diet, the promised detox never came–or else it just kept coming and coming.*

While the PD cleared up around my mouth, the hormonal, cystic acne intensified, and I developed worse regular acne. I had to start wearing bandaids on my face nearly every day, just so that I could go to work without scaring my customers away with my broken, bleeding face. It was horrific, and I was embarrassed to no end.

My acne at its worst

I honestly didn’t know what to do. I hated myself even more than ever–and, mind you, this is the recent history I’m talking about.

Worse yet, the “vegan glow”  had already begun to fade. While my first few months of veganism made me lose weight and feel like I was filled with light and hope, the glow quickly wore off.  I started putting on weight again, feeling leaden, bloated, and constantly hungry. I would have mini-anxiety attacks when I couldn’t take my scheduled 15 minute breaks on time at work, because all I wanted to do was just get to my next meal.

And in case you’re wondering my diet looked something like this:

Breakfast:

  • Green Juice (made with 1/2 pear, 2 stalks celery, kale, swiss chard, and broccoli) and a piece of Ezekiel Low-Sodium Sprouted Grain Bread, or
  • Green Smoothie (made with broccoli, kale, frozen berries, vegan raw protein or hemp powder, and a tiny bit of coconut oil)

Mid Morning Snack:

  • Apple & 2 brown rice cakes

Lunch:

  • Homemade raw hummus (chickpeas, a minuscule amount of tahini, lemon juice and serrano chili peppers) with carrots and broccoli or on a pita with sprouts and bell peppers
  • Raw vegan meal replacement mixed with just enough water to make a pudding

Mid Afternoon Snack:

  • Apple & 2 brown rice cakes

Dinner:

  • Tempeh and stir-fried peppers, broccoli, and kale, with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Quinoa

Dessert:

  • 2 tbsp raw almond butter with vegan chocolate chips and cinnamon (and if I was still hungry–which I usually was, several servings of dry Publix cereal or two pieces of toasted Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread)

Low calorie? Check. Low fat? Check. Animal-free? Check. Besides my nut-butter-and-chocolate-chip addiction (I couldn’t go to bed without having that snack) and the constant need to pad my days with extra bread and cereal, my diet seemed pretty impeccable.

Why wasn’t veganism curing my acne? Why wasn’t I able to fit into my work pants anymore? I started to question my investment in the whole thing.

The camel’s back broke** in May, when I went back to Florida for my little sister’s college graduation. The thought of being featured in a single family photo made me sick–and the impossibility of finding a single meal to eat during that trip made my heart (and stomach) ache.

Rollercoaster Hair

Me and my brother on graduation weekend. Wearing no makeup and a bandaid on the cheek turned away from the camera.

I subsisted on apples and meal replacement powders nearly the entire time (and I dipped liberally into the container of raw almond butter I had packed in my suitcase). When we went out to restaurants, I bothered the waitresses with requests for substitutions until there wasn’t anything but a few limp pieces of salad left on the plate anyway. (And, of course, I asked for the salad dry, leaving even olive oil and vinegar untouched despite the fact that olive oil is definitely vegan. My fear of fat was stronger than my hunger and sense of taste.)

On the last night, we went out to dinner at a chain restaurant, where the only vegan option on the menu was an appetizer: white bean hummus with pita bread. I had eaten nothing but meal replacements and apples all day, so by the time the meal came, I was starving. I ate the whole thing, sopping up every last bit of hummus with my family-sized order of pita. When the waitress came to take my plate, she actually looked me in the eye and said, in a most condescending tone, “Well, looks like somebody was hungry…”

I went back to the hotel and looked at my bleeding, scarred face in the mirror, ashamed for reasons I couldn’t even name anymore. That was it. I was done.

My mom, a scary-ripped crossfitter and lifelong health nut, had been pushing me to stop being a vegan and try this “paleo” thing she’d been doing since she started crossfit the year before. I had been actively ignoring her for months–I was already exhausted following one diet; I didn’t need another set of rules and restrictions to learn. Moreover,  by this point the idea of eating meat made me ill–I knew it was unhealthy, I felt I was above that, I didn’t want to admit defeat…but when I returned to California, exhausted, hungry, and pimply as a schoolgirl–with no other isolate-able reason for my problems but my diet–, I told her I’d at least give it chance.

And thank god I did, because I wouldn’t be blogging here today if I hadn’t.

Acne Breakout While Vegan

- K.

*When writing of detoxes, medical professionals and their ilk often forewarn of a few weeks of side effects like acne, as the body rids itself of the toxins through the skin. However, I was either so full of toxins that my skin just never healed or else I was just deluding myself and permanently damaging my skin for nine months.

**Metaphorical animal cruelty signaling the end of my vegan experiment?

Off Topic But Totally Relevant:

Just a quickie for your Friday morning:

I’ve been a fan of Underground Wellness for a while now, and I’m so glad that Sean Croxton has been pushing so hard for awareness about Genetically Modified foods. Prop 37‘s day of reckoning fast approaches here in California, and it really is going to make a huge difference in leading the way for GMO regulation throughout the rest of the country.

Sean posted a great opinion piece about GM foods, and I really urge you to check it out. At the end of his post, he added a link to a documentary called Genetic Roulette. I know this is a bit late in the game, but you still have one day left to stream it for free–I watched it in its entirety, and while I was already aware of the insidious nature of GMOs, it was still shocking and eye opening. Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch it before tomorrow.

I’ll be back soon to continue the acne-and-veganism saga…

“Vegan” Means “Alien” in the Omnivore’s Tongue

As per ED Has Two Mommies: It’s amazing how an ED can thrive on social pressure. Even under the guise of change and growth, an ED can wriggle its way underneath even your healthiest habits and cause them to decay from within. Habits that you try to change by drastic measures become the drastic measures that your resort to when life goes off the rails. And ED is there as always, waiting with a “safety net” of routine and dysfunction to catch you as you fall. 

 

The day I decided to do my 30-Day Challenge, the day I became a vegan, was the day I chopped off all of my hair (again). It was the day that I committed to losing 10 pounds by November. It was the day that I hung a pair of black shorts that hadn’t fit me since the height of my anorexia on my wall and decided that I would wear them on my birthday.

 

Haircut, Short Hair, Bob, Pixie, Transformation

Transformation

The day I became a vegan was supposed to be the day I broke free from the strict lifestyle of the figure competitor, the day I broke free from calorie counting, eating small meals every three hours, and using cardio/resistance training as an excuse to excuse myself from social life.

 

Instead:

 

I was working full time and doing yoga every day. I used my days off to do doubles, or tried to fit doubles in at 5 am and after 6 pm on days I worked the early shift. I still ate every three hours and counted the calories in my seitan-on-sprouted grain-bread sandwiches. I practically moved into the farmer’s market down the street, since I was consuming pounds and pounds of vegetables in my daily juices and green smoothies (and became more tied to my kitchen than ever for easy access to the juicer and blender). My other meals were made up of giant salads mixed with fermented tofu or in various forms (mainly tempeh)–or else I would forgo the actual “meal” and just eat a meal replacement made of various combinations of sprouted legumes, grasses, and green things.

Vegan, Raw, Meal, Garden of Life, Meal Replacement Powder

All of the ingredients you need for a filling meal…right?

ED was there, perhaps wearing different clothes, but meddling in my affairs all the same. And, as always is the case when ED starts to meddle, the black clouds began to roll in.

 

I grew increasingly defensive of my food and lifestyle choices–apparently “vegan” translates to “alien” in the omnivore’s tongue*–and I felt like I was therefore more and more justified in my isolation. And isolation, if you remember, is ED’s favorite food.

 

Now, before I go any further, I am only writing the following to provide context for the descent into depression and disorder that follows. Let me also say that I know that I am just as at fault for any bad juju that was stirring between myself and my roommates up until this point–ED had turned me into a depressed, shrewish hermit, and my roommates’ inability to clean up after themselves simply brought out the best of my by-this-point well-cultured passive aggression.

 

All of that said, things went definitively south when one of my roommates asked if one of his friends could stay with us for a couple of weeks while she searched for a job and a place to live.  Okay, fine, I said. As long as it was only a few weeks.

 

It wasn’t.

 

And I won’t go too deep into the details of this invasion of my home, but I that’s what it felt like–an invasion. Instead of being ignored, my food choices were suddenly questioned and made fun of. (Ew, what is that green thing you’re eating?!) My routines were called out and disparaged. (You’re seriously going to bed now? Fine, well, we’re going out. Don’t wait up.) I felt like I was living under a microscope, with all of my deficiencies on display and my habits the subject of analysis and debate.

 

Vegan, Salad, Tempeh, Garlic, Hugh Jass Salad

Apparently this is weird to eat. (Kale, tempeh, roasted garlic, peppers, and vegan cheese)

And the more I was analyzed and debated–the more I heard the hushed behind-my-back and outside-my-bedroom-door conversations and the second-hand gossip at work–the more I became the depressed, crazy, creature of habit that our guest was talking about.

 

All of this, and she didn’t have to pay rent.

 

As the days turned into weeks turned into months, I grew more and more despondent. My roommates grew less and less tolerant of my presence in the house. I wasn’t the cool, fun roommate anymore–far from it. I was the annoyance who was lucky I was being allowed to pay rent. But for work and yoga, I confined myself to my room or a corner of the kitchen around the clock.

 

And, on top of all of this, our guest got a job at my Kool-Aid store. So now I was with my roommates and their guest around the clock. Not only did I have no relief from my roommates’ presence, but my promotion also turned out to have brought more responsibility without any of the joy I thought would come of it.

 

My only comfort? ED. ED wouldn’t lie or disappoint me. ED wouldn’t judge me–if anything, ED would keep me on track. ED was the only thing I could think about or else I was sure I’d go crazy. Unfortunately, ED was the very reason I felt out of control and crazy to begin with.

 

- K.

 

*I cannot even begin to quantify the number of times I’ve been asked, “Wait…does that mean you eat fish?” during my stint as a vegan. No, it does not mean I can eat fish. Veganism means eschewing all animal products, up to and including the bee pollen I was mixing into my daily oatmeal. No eggs, no honey, no fish, cheese, or cows. Not even chewing gum made with shellac or other animal derived products (and you’d be surprised how many there are). And if you’re really hardcore, no leather or animal-made nonedibles either.

Comparing to Apples to Apples: A Rant

Okay, I know I haven’t even gotten to the point in my story where I finally give up my stance on nutrition, but yesterday’s headlines call for a little context-jumping (and a whole lot of common sense):

Apparently, according the all of the major news sources, organic food isn’t healthy*. Or, at least, that’s what the headlines want you to think.

In case you don’t want to do the Google searching yourself, a recent study compared the nutritional content and relative pesticide/antibiotic concentration of various organic and conventional foods. In doing so, apparently the researchers were trying to disprove that organic food offers additional health benefits as opposed to conventional food. Which is stupid and fallacious. Because those are two entirely different things.

Now, unless you’re the kind of person who goes to Whole Foods and buys a bag of “Organic Gummy Bears”  because he/she honestly thinks that she’s getting a “health benefit” from consuming these “organic” sugar bombs, you already know that organic food isn’t “healthier” than conventional. You don’t eat organic because you think that the health fairies have blessed your apples with magical nutrients; you eat organic because you don’t want the anti-health fairies (i.e. conventional farmers) to poison you with pesticides, hormones, or genetically modified bullsh*t (literally or figuratively).

Organic, Gummy Bears

These exist. And my heart aches for our country.

In case you were buying organic gummy bears and believing that they (and their 100% fruit flavor claims) were somehow going to make you lose ten pounds and live forever, here is your wakeup call: all “organic” means is that “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” in the production of an agricultural product. That’s it. If you are still confused, go check out the USDA’s website on labeling and standards. It’s pretty clear.

The problem with this study is that it compared apples to apples and concluded that there was no difference between the two. An organic apple is exactly as nutritionally healthy as a conventional apple (for all intents and purposes). Except for the fact that it hasn’t been introduced to pesticides that can penetrate its relatively thin skin. Which means eating an organic apple isn’t necessarily going to make you healthier; it will, however, stand less of a chance of killing you in the long run.

Apples, Comparing apples to apples

Hey, look! They’re both apples!

So why am I so up in arms about this? Because this is just another case of the mass media misinterpreting “scientific” studies in order to generate press/page views. This is why we’re all so damn confused about what to eat (and why we’re still eating things that will kill us.**) This is why no one has any clue where he or she stands on eggs this week. (FYI: Time Magazine says they’re killing us this week.) This is why there’s a multi-billion dollar diet industry devoted to preying on our insecurities and our misinformation (which I’d call ignorance–were it not for our lack of trying). Studies like this–and they way in which they’re interpreted by the people who feed us our information–are why we don’t know how to feed ourselves.

(What makes me even angrier is that the people who write the articles end up burying the lede somewhere at the bottom. For example, in this MSNBC article the headline reads “Organic Food No More Nutritious Than Conventional;” however the real story is somewhere in the last few lines: “‘If I was a smart consumer, I would choose food that has no pesticides,’ [Chensheng] Lu [“who studies environmental health and exposure at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston”], who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Reuters Health. ‘I think that’s the best way to protect your health.’”)

And, ultimately, this is how we keep the food media industry rolling. When we’re inundated with misinformation about our food and our health, we’re not only taught to obsess about our food (because if we miss the wrong news report, we’ll eat an egg on a day when it could kill us or forget to eat an egg when they’re proclaimed healthy again), but we’re also told to eat foods that keep us unhealthily–which make us feel terrible, which make us sick, and which keep us dependent on addictive and ultimately poisonous foods.

Time Magazine, 1984, Cholesterol

This happened. (1984)

So now, when you’re feeling bad after gulping down organic gummies like they’re going out of style or are instead wondering why you’re putting on weight or dealing with an impaired endocrine system after eschewing organic meats for their cheaper, conventional, hormone-fed cousins, you’re just reacting to the same cycle of scare-mongering, half-truth-telling that got you here in the first place.

But now you know.

And It’s up to us as consumers–of both food and media to stay as informed as possible. And that means approaching “studies” and their splashy, misleading headlines, with a skepticism that’s been proven to be healthier than eating organic. Read blogs like Eathropology or Chris Kresser. Listen to podcasts by Abel James and Sean Croxton. And question everything.

Okay. Rant over. For now.

(And if you’re trying to justify spending less money now that organic food “isn’t healthy,” please at least consider investing in grass-fed/pastured/non-antibiotic-fed meats and at least buying organic produce when you’re planning to eat the skin or leaves. Save on things like bananas, since you’re not going to eat the peel anyway…)

Time Magazine, September 2011,

I’ve had it with the “What to Eat” articles…

- K.

P.S. This has to be the best quote I’ve yet read by others who are just as p.o.’d about this issue as I am: “Avocados don’t contain any more fairy dust than Cheetos, therefore: Avocados aren’t any healthier than Cheetos!” (Looks like I’m going to have an excuse to go back to eating Cheetos…gotta get my RDA of fairy dust after all! *Blech*)

*Okay, isn’t healthier than conventional food. But that then leads us to make the fallacious jump to the next conclusion: well, if it’s not healthier than conventional food, it’s not healthy at all. In fact, I can already hear the cable news channel teasers: “New study shows that organic food isn’t as healthy as they want us to believe. Have we been wasting our money–and our health? We investigate at 11.”

**And before I write this, please understand that I’m not choosing this topic to be inflammatory; I’m choosing it because it’s a recent example of what I’m talking about. No hate mail/comments, please: A prime example is that tragedy of Michael Clarke Duncan, who died at age 54 from a heart attack. He had become a vegetarian recently, so of course there are already people on both camps (diehard veg*ns and Paleo people) ready to point fingers. I’ve already seen one comment stating that he “probably wasn’t a vegetarian long enough” to prevent his past dietary discretions from building up and killing him…but I’m of the belief (and I’ll get to why once I finish my story) that being a vegetarian certainly didn’t help him–especially if he was avoiding saturated fats, meats, and other healthful food (yes, it is healthy; no I don’t want to fight about it) and instead consuming grains, legumes, and soy (no, they’re not healthy; no, I still don’t want to fight about it). I don’t know what his diet was like before becoming a vegetarian, so I don’t know if it’s the pre- or post-diet that was to blame, but either way, neither the Standard American Diet nor a Standard American Vegetarian Diet+ is good for your health. IMHO.

+Standard American Vegetarian Diet: high carb/low fat, fake meat, processed food, grains (looks a lot like the Standard American Diet, but with less McDonalds and more Tofurky.)