Opinion: We Don’t Control Our Weight

Dayna Lee-Baggley wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you’re willing, let’s try an experiment. I’m going to offer you two options, and I’d like you to pick the option that you think sounds more likely to be successful.

Option 1: Tomorrow’s weight will be 301 pounds, the day after that it will be 195 pounds, and the following day it will be 255 pounds.

Option 2: Tomorrow, go for a 10-minute walk, the day after that eat two servings of fruit, and the following day drink three glasses of water.

Which option would you be more likely to succeed with? Which option would anyone be more likely to succeed with? If you picked Option 2, you win!

Why would most of us pick Option 2 over Option 1? Option 1 involves an outcome (weight) and Option 2 involves a behavior (doing something). And as humans, we have much more control over our behavior than we do outcomes like weight. In fact, there’s mounting and convincing evidence that we don’t control our weight.

Now, this may seem hard to believe. Everything you’ve ever heard from the media, from your healthcare providers, from others in your life is that if you just work hard enough, if you just try long enough, you will be able to have a skinny body. But science tells us something different. We can influence our weight but we don’t have direct control.

Weight is actually influenced by more than 50 different processes, many of which we have no control over.

The figure in the top illustrates the factors that influence weight.

For example, weight is influenced by how much sleep you get, the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in your body, how many McDonald’s locations are in your neighborhood, the walkability of your city, your genetics, and your access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of these we have no direct control over. How much you eat and how much you exercise are only two small factors in weight.

This also has important implications for how to manage weight. If we focus on weight as the goal, at some point, we will feel like our efforts aren’t getting us to our goal. This is inevitable because we don’t control all the factors that influence weight. And when we feel like our efforts aren’t getting us to our goals, the most normal response is to give up trying and to not bother to try again.

This is an effect called “learned helplessness,” first described by Dr. Martin Seligman and his colleagues: when we feel we have no control, we just stop trying. Many of my patients living with obesity will describe trying over and over and over again to lose weight only to find themselves heavier than when they started. And often I will hear them say “and then I just gave up.” That’s learned helplessness. And once learned helplessness sets in it’s hard to undo.

But there is a way we can avoid learned helplessness: by focusing on behavior as a goal instead of weight as a goal. If you try harder to go for a walk, you’re much more likely to go for a walk, but if you try harder to “lose weight” you don’t necessarily lose more weight. In fact, the stress of trying to lose weight may increase the cortisol levels in your body and make it harder to lose weight.

So, if you’re working to manage your weight, think about setting behavioral goals: things that other people can see you do. Examples include going for a walk, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, eating more whole foods, eating at regular intervals during the day, or tracking your food intake. You’ll be more likely to feel successful and to want to keep going.

Source: Psychology Today

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Opinion: Against Cheerfulness

Mariana Alessandri wrote . . . . . . . . .

I once ended up at a Boy Scout ceremony in the northeast United States, where I inhaled the American spirit unfiltered. The boys’ uniforms had Stars-and-Stripes patches sewn on next to their badges. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance in front of an oversize US flag, and we prayed to America’s vague God, giving thanks for this and that, and asking for some strength or protection. The boys recited their Scout Law: to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and… cheerful.

As a philosopher influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, I’d always imagined cheerfulness was a sickly child, born nine months after a Tinder date between Stoicism and Christianity. But that night I learned that cheerfulness was a British orphan smuggled into the US in the early 20th century, and was now making a living spreading itself all over contemporary American kitsch: throw pillows, coffee mugs and slippers. Cheerfulness has planted deep roots in US soil, and the poor Boy Scouts are made to believe she’s a virtue.

The Ancient Greeks named four virtues: temperance, wisdom, courage and justice. Aristotle added more, but cheerfulness wasn’t one of them. The Greek philosophers didn’t seem to care about how we felt compared with how we acted. Aristotle said that we would ideally feel good while acting good, but he didn’t consider pleasure necessary for beautiful action. Acting virtuously meant steering clear of excess and deficiency. But in order to reach his ‘mean’, we need to jettison every action that misses the mark. Most of the time, the mean is incredibly tough to find, but if it came down to a choice between feeling good while acting badly or feeling badly while acting good, Aristotle said to choose good behaviour. He understood that feelings are hard to control, sometimes impossible, but he also knew that positive feelings like to hang around virtuous actions. While we’re waiting for the good feelings to show up, he asked us to get to work on temperance, wisdom, courage and justice. But he never said anything about smiling through it.

The Roman Stoics inched closer to prescribing cheerfulness when they decided that we should pay attention to our feelings. They believed that we could control our attitudes. But even they didn’t champion cheerfulness, despite the American translators who try to poison them with it. For example, Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, advised himself to be εὔνους, literally ‘good-minded’. This was translated into English as ‘good-natured’ by Francis Hutcheson and James Moore in 1742 in Scotland, and then as ‘benevolence’ by the British translator George Long in 1862, before returning to ‘good-natured’ in 1916 under the influence of another British translator, C R Haines. In 2003, Gregory Hays, from Indianapolis, translated εὔνους as ‘cheerfulness’. Maybe Hays was a boy scout. Or Christian. Or both.

To the Stoic list of virtues, the Christians added faith, hope and love. These are a gift from God, unlike patience and justice, which can be achieved on our own. Faith is the belief that with God all things are possible; hope is risking that belief in real time; and love is willing to be wrong about it. These three add an undeniably emotional element to the mix of virtues, but even Jesus didn’t ask for cheer. The closest he got was telling the disciples not to look depressed when they fasted. Paul got even closer when he declared that ‘God loves a cheerful giver’. But the original Greek still sounds more like ‘God loves it when you give without needing to be persuaded’ than like the Boy Scout definition of cheerfulness. But Paul also said that Christians should ‘do everything without grumbling and arguing’. The pivot from action to attitude started by the Stoics and egged on by the Christians set the historical stage for Scout Law in the US.

In 1908, the British Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell created (what would become) the worldwide Boy Scouts movement. He intended to instil good old Christian values into good old British boys. Cheerfulness and other newborn virtues soon circled the globe, hitting the US in 1916. Eventually, the Boy Scouts Association in the UK dropped it: they don’t need to be cheerful any more, according to their Scout Law, even though it was their idea. The lifting of mandatory cheerfulness reflects contemporary British culture, just as the policing of cheerfulness in the US reflects ours.

The Boy Scouts of America associate cheerfulness with positivity: a Scout should ‘look for the bright side of life. Cheerfully do tasks that come your way. Try to help others be happy.’ Instead of grumbling while he toils, a cheerful Boy Scout will cultivate a joyful attitude. He will ‘jump at opportunities’ that others won’t, and is more likely to find difficult tasks more enjoyable than others. Finally, a good Boy Scout believes that cheerfulness is infectious and can spread to those around him.

It’s no surprise that cheerfulness was embraced not only by Boy Scouts but by the greater American culture too: the US is a melting pot of Christianity, Stoicism, cognitive behavioural therapy, capitalism and Buddhism, all of which hold, to varying degrees, that we are responsible for our attitudes and, ultimately, for our happiness. A quick browse through the self-help section of any US bookstore announces that lots of Americans are desperate to bootstrap their way to the bright side. Texts on embracing life’s miserable condition don’t exactly fly off the shelves. However, books on how optimism can be learned make millionaires out of their authors. They tell us that the key to happiness is positivity, and that the key to positivity is cheerfulness. The aorta of the US economy pumps out optimism, positivity and cheerfulness while various veins carry back US dollars naively invested in schemes designed to get rich quick, emotionally speaking.

Socrates was right in the Symposium when he said that we are attracted to what we are not, and the psychologists behind production and marketing know better than we do the ubiquity of US anxiety, depression and restlessness. Many of us who might not be cheerful by nature get pressured to smile by the reigning notion that we alone are responsible for our happiness. Window-shop in any middle-class city and you will discover a consumer culture desperate to live up to the adage ‘Think like a proton: always positive!’ Homeware stores are filled with reminders of how happy we could be if only we’d listen to our kitschy teacups with printed pseudo-philosophical adages such as ‘Continuous cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom,’ except that teacups don’t know the first thing about cheerfulness or wisdom, or whether they relate to happiness. Look at Denmark: the Danish are not particularly cheerful but, if the statistics are to be believed, they are happier than most. I’ve been to Denmark, and it’s not defiled with messages to ‘Keep calm and focus on cheerfulness.’

If you have to tell someone to be cheerful, they aren’t feeling it. Cheerfulness spontaneously felt and freely given is brilliant, but it is no more virtuous than acting courageously when one isn’t scared. Aristotle insisted that virtuous action be independent of, and sometimes contrary to, our feelings. In other words, virtuous action must be deliberate to count as virtue.

Baden-Powell knew this, and in 1908 he reminded his Boy Scouts that, when something annoying happens:

you should force yourself to smile at once and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same.
Baden-Powell’s words had the power to coerce a generation of boys to pretend that life is good when it isn’t. Cheerfulness advocates still find virtue in this charade. America’s unchecked faith in cheer abounds in our proverbs: ‘You catch more flies with honey,’ ‘Think happy thoughts,’ ‘Life is good,’ ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ and ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ are all cheer-filled variations on Baden-Powell’s theme of forced bright-sidedness. ‘Minnesota nice’ captures the twisted Midwestern dedication to white-knuckling a positive attitude.

There is a fundamental difference between practising the Greek virtues of patience, justice or courage, and practising the American virtue of cheerfulness, which borders on psychosis. Patience asks us to change our behaviour, but it neither asks us to feel differently nor to pretend to feel differently. Granted, Aristotle believed that practising patience over a length of time would naturally make us more patient, but pretence was never part of the deal. You can act patient while feeling impatient, and it’s no lie. But when you fake cheerfulness, you are telling someone else that you feel fine when you don’t. This encourages the most maddening American T-shirts and aprons that say: ‘Smile! Happiness looks gorgeous on you!’

Cheerfulness conceived as a virtue – à la Boy Scout Law – instead of a spontaneous feeling is a pretence. It’s not an action but it is an act. Whistling while you work might be worth defending, but forcing yourself to smile when you don’t feel like it amounts to lying to the people around you. ‘Fake it till you make it’ has brutal consequences when applied to the emotions. When conceived as the attempt to trick others into thinking that you feel cheery, cheerfulness is far from a virtue. It’s a vice. It falls on the deficiency end of the spectrum of trust. Too much trust is called naïveté, and is a vice of excess. But cheerfulness is just as bad. It confesses: I don’t trust you with my darkest feelings; I don’t think you are responsible enough to handle my inner life. Forced cheerfulness is a denial of life. All experiences taste different, and if we force a smile through the sour ones, we are not living honestly. We might want to lock out certain people from our fragile hearts, but cheerfulness is an equal-opportunity vice; it keeps even my loved ones out of reach. Whoever gets our cheery selves does not get our true selves.

Cheerfulness also unwittingly cancels out the Christian virtue of faith. It says: you can’t handle the expression of my feelings, and I deny you the chance to prove me right. Since it is built on the certainty that others will disappoint, cheerfulness lacks faith. It denies possibility. In real life, others probably will disappoint us. If we show them what we are really feeling, they will probably screw it up. But given the emphasis on cheerfulness in the US, as etched into Boy Scout Law, it’s no wonder that they screw it up. Still, a botched attempt at compassion is better than being denied the chance to fail. Here’s an anti-cheerful but virtuous attitude: expect others to fail but give them the chance. Also, recognise when someone is giving you a chance to fail them. Vulnerability is a risk and a gift.

This newest virtue could be given the old name of honesty. Instead of a smile, if we could find it in ourselves to wear our natural expression – the one that the US TV personality Mister Fred Rogers called the ‘best kind of expression’ – we would be better for it. Wearing our natural expression would be a sign that we are saying yes instead of no to life’s kumquats, to sadness, anxiety, illness, grief, depression, loneliness and anger, among other so-called ‘negative’ emotions. These affirmations of life’s sourness might just make frowning – or wincing, or crying – easier. In turn, these newly sanctioned expressions of negativity might make talking easier, honestly discussing hardships. Our newly vulnerable selves would get to see the corresponding vulnerabilities of our close and distant neighbours. This exchange of fragility could possibly be the key to empathy. If we agreed to stop wasting emotional energy masking our disappointments with cheer, then we’d be free to cue into other people’s sadness. The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno saw expressions of pain exchanged between two people as the great equaliser of humankind. He believed that deeper connections could be made in wreckage than prosperity.

But deep connections come at a cost. Cheerfulness isn’t just an American phenomenon, but it is uniquely built into the nation’s identity as invincible, and it’s not clear that we are ready to part with it yet. To become flesh-and-bone, Americans would first have to give up the idea that happiness is a matter of attitude. This challenges not only the history of the Boy Scouts but, more broadly, the reigning image of the self-made American, the single individual who keeps his chin up and never lets them see him sweat. This narrative was vital in birthing the US and then making it the superpower it is today.

Giving up a commitment to cheerfulness would mean risking judgment for being ordinary, human, mortal. If, however, we could learn to share in the misery of others without trying to cheer them up and send them packing, and if they could do the same for us, then we’d have a shot at true fraternity, the kind that Aristotle prescribed when he said we should live with our friends. The kind that the Boy Scouts crave, and that Baden-Powell thought he was cultivating when he prescribed cheerfulness. Profound human connection and communion – in other words, love – has no use for forced cheer, and is often sabotaged by false faces. If we want to love better and seek true happiness and friendship, it’s time to cultivate honesty instead of cheer.

Source: aeon

Opinion: Fake Meat – Big Food’s Attempt to Further Industrialize What We Eat

Vandana Shiva wrote . . . . . . . . .

Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.

As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food.”

Good food and real food are the basis of health.

Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease.

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine.” In Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of life, food is called “sarvausadha” the medicine that cures all disease.

Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.

Planetary Impacts

Seventy five percent of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75 percent of food-related chronic diseases. It contributes 50 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.

Biodiversity-intensive and poison-free agriculture, on the other hand, produces more nutrition per acre while rejuvenating the planet. It shows the path to “zero hunger” in times of climate change.

The industrial agriculture and toxic food model has been promoted as the only answer to economic and food security. However, globally, more than 1 billion people are hungry. More than 3 billion suffer from food-related chronic diseases.

It uses 75 percent of the land yet industrial agriculture based on fossil fuel intensive, chemical intensive monocultures produce only 30 percent of the food we eat. Meanwhile, small, biodiverse farms using 25 percent of the land provide 70 percent of the food. At this rate, if the share of industrial agriculture and industrial food in our diet is increased to 45 percent, we will have a dead planet. One with no life and no food.

The mad rush for fake food and fake meat, ignorant of the diversity of our foods and food cultures, and the role of biodiversity in maintaining our health, is a recipe for accelerating the destruction of the planet and our health.

GMO Soy is Unsafe

In a recent article “How our commitment to consumers and our planet led us to use GM soy,” Pat Brown, CEO & founder of Impossible Foods, says: “We sought the safest and most environmentally responsible option that would allow us to scale our production and provide the Impossible Burger to consumers at a reasonable cost.”

Given the fact that 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared due to Roundup ready crops, and we are living through what scientists have called an “insectageddon,” using GMO soya is hardly an “environmentally responsible option.”

Monarch butterflies roosting in Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa. (USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr)

In writing this, Pat Brown reveals his ignorance about weeds evolving to resist Roundup and becoming “superweeds” now requiring more and more lethal herbicides. Bill Gates and DARPA are even calling for the use of gene drives to exterminate amaranth, a sacred and nutritious food in India, because the Palmer Amaranth has become a superweed in the Roundup Ready soya fields of the U.S.

At a time when across the world the movement to ban GMOs and Roundup is growing, promoting GMO soya as “fake meat” is misleading the eater both in terms of the ontology of the burger, and on claims of safety.

The “Impossible Burger” based on GMO, Roundup sprayed soya is not a “safe” option.

Zen Honeycutt and Moms across America just announced that the Impossible Burger tested positive for glyphosate. “The levels of glyphosate detected in the Impossible Burger by Health Research Institute Laboratories were 11 X higher than the Beyond Meat Burger. The total result (glyphosate and its break down AMPA) was 11.3 ppb. Moms Across America also tested the Beyond Meat Burger and the results were 1 ppb.

“We are shocked to find that the Impossible Burger can have up to 11X higher levels of glyphosate residues than the Beyond Meat Burger according to these samples tested. This new product is being marketed as a solution for ‘healthy’ eating, when in fact 11 ppb of glyphosate herbicide consumption can be highly dangerous. Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to destroy gut bacteria, which is where the stronghold of the immune system lies.”

Recent court cases have showcased the links of Roundup to cancer. With the build up of liabilities related to cancer cases, the investments in Roundup Ready GMO soya is blindness to the market.

Or the hope that fooling consumers can rescue Bayer/Monsanto.

There is another ontological confusion related to fake food. While claiming to get away from meat, “fake meat” is about selling meat-like products.

Pat Brown declares “we use genetically engineered yeast to produce heme, the “magic” molecule that makes meat taste like meat — and makes the Impossible Burger the only plant-based product to deliver the delicious explosion of flavor and aroma that meat-eating consumers crave.”

I had thought that the plant-based diet was for vegans and vegetarians, not meat lovers.

Big Food & Big Money Driving Fake Food Goldrush

Indeed, the promotion of fake foods seems to have more to do with giving new life to the failing GMO agriculture and the junk food industry, and the threat to it from the rising of consciousness and awareness everywhere that organic, local, fresh food is real food which regenerates the planet and our health. In consequence, investment in “plant-based food companies” has soared from nearly zero in 2009 to $600 million by 2018. And these companies are looking for more.

Pat Brown declares, “If there’s one thing that we know, it’s that when an ancient unimprovable technology counters a better technology that is continuously improvable, it’s just a matter of time before the game is over.” He added, “I think our investors see this as a $3 trillion opportunity.”

This is about profits and control. He, and those jumping on the fake-food goldrush, have no discernible knowledge, or consciousness about, or compassion for living beings, the web of life, nor the role of living food in weaving that web.

Their sudden awakening to “plant-based diets,” including GMO soya, is an ontological violation of food as a living system that connects us to the ecosystem and other beings, and indicates ignorance of the diversity of cultures that have used a diversity of plants in their diets.

Interconnections

Ecological sciences have been based on the recognition of the interconnections and interrelatedness between humans and nature, between diverse organisms, and within all living systems, including the human body. It has thus evolved as an ecological and a systems science, not a fragmented and reductionist one. Diets have evolved according to climates and the local biodiversity the climate allows. The biodiversity of the soil, of the plants and our gut microbiome is one continuum. In Indian civilization, technologies are tools. Tools need to be assessed on ethical, social and ecological criteria. Tools/technologies have never been viewed as self-referential. They have been assessed in the context of contributing to the wellbeing of all.

Through fake food, evolution, biodiversity, and the web of life is being redefined as an “ancient unimprovable technology.” That ignores sophisticated forms of knowledge that have evolved in diverse agricultural and food cultures in diverse climate and ecosystems to sustain and renew the biodiversity, the ecosystems, the health of people and the planet.

The Eat Forum, which brought out a report that tried to impose a monoculture diet of chemically grown, hyper-industrially-processed food on the world has a partnership through FrESH with the junk food industry, and Big Ag such as Bayer, BASF, Cargill, Pepsico amongst others.

Fake food is thus building on a century and a half of food imperialism and food colonization of our diverse food knowledges and food cultures.

Big Food and Big Money are behind the Fake Food Industry. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are funding startups.

We need to decolonize our food cultures and our minds of food imperialism

The industrial West has always been arrogant, and ignorant, of the cultures it has colonized. “Fake Food” is just the latest step in a history of food imperialism.

Soya is a gift of East Asia, where it has been a food for millennia. It was only eaten as fermented food to remove its anti-nutritive factors. But recently, GMO soya has created a soya imperialism, destroying plant diversity. It continues the destruction of the diversity of rich edible oils and plant-based proteins of Indian dals that we have documented.

Women from India’s slums called on me to bring our mustard back when GMO soya oil started to be dumped on India, and local oils and cold press units in villages were made illegal.

That is when we started the “sarson (mustard) satyagraha” to defend our healthy cold pressed oils from dumping of hexane-extracted GMO soya oil.

Hexane is a neurotoxin. While Indian peasants knew that pulses, or legumes, fix nitrogen, the West was industrializing agriculture based on synthetic nitrogen, which contributes to greenhouse gases, dead zones in the ocean and dead soils. While we ate a diversity of “dals” in our daily “dal roti” the British colonizers, who had no idea of the richness of the nutrition of pulses, reduced them to animal food. Chana became chick pea, gahat became horse gram, tur became pigeon pea.

We stand at a precipice of a planetary emergency, a health emergency, a crisis of farmers livelihoods. Fake food will accelerate the rush to collapse. Real food gives us a chance to rejuvenate the earth, our food economies, food sovereignty and food cultures. Through real food we can decolonize our food cultures and our consciousness. We can remember that food is living and gives us life.

Boycott GMO Impossible Burger. Make tofu. Cook Dal.

Source : Consortium News

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Bad Food.’ Four Terms that Make Dietitians Cringe.

Ellie Krieger wrote . . . . . . . . .

The words we use matter. Our choice of language not only mirrors our current way of thinking, it also has the power to shape our attitudes and behaviours over time. That’s why so many food and nutrition professionals cringe at much of the conversation around food and health today.

Seemingly innocuous words and phrases that are regularly tossed around set us up for unhealthy approaches to food.

I emailed several registered dietitian colleagues to identify the most common offenders – words they wish would be eliminated from the nutrition chatter – and asked them how to reframe that language for a healthier perspective. Here are their top four.

Good/bad food

Not surprisingly, almost every dietitian I surveyed ranked the categorisation of food as “good” or “bad” high on their cringe list. It is the root of unhealthy food speak, as most of the other reviled terms can be traced back to this notion.

Pinning a black or white value to one particular food shifts focus from the big picture, the overall eating patterns that really define a person’s well-being.

Sure, some foods have a better nutritional profile than others, but context matters immensely. Broccoli may easily win a “good” label, but if all you have eaten all day is broccoli, another serving of it may be the last thing you need.

On the flip side, even foods with a less than ideal nutritional breakdown can have unquantifiable health benefits.

Take pizza for example. “Pizza is often demonised as ‘bad’ because it is high in fat, high in refined carbohydrates and easy to overindulge,” says Chris Mohr, co-founder of the nutrition consultation company Mohr Results.

“But if that pizza isn’t an every day occurrence and it brought friends together, encouraged conversation, laughing and a connection, the otherwise ‘bad’ food becomes nurturing for your soul. Food inherently is not good or bad.”

Besides setting you up to overeat broccoli and miss out on pizza parties, the good/bad paradigm can lead to extreme, moralistically judgmental attitudes about food.

As Deanna Wolfe, co-founder of HealthyBody Nutrition puts it, “People use ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to describe food as if you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for eating them.

“This only leads to guilt and stress over eating! You are not good for eating kale and bad for eating ice cream.”

Also, labelling foods “bad” can make them even more desirable, as Rahaf Al Bochi, owner of Olive Tree Nutrition and spokeswoman for the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found.

When her clients declare certain foods “forbidden,” they are more likely to be preoccupied with thoughts of those foods and crave them more intensely.

Clean eating

The notion of clean eating is an offshoot of the good/bad food concept that marketers seem to adore, to the dismay of many dietitians.

“The original [clean eating] philosophy appears to be one I think we could all get on board with: eating food as close to its original state as possible, in the most nutritious form possible (also known as minimally processed),” says Jaclyn London, author of Dressing on the Side and nutrition director of Good Housekeeping.

“But what was once a sense of awareness about food seems to have spiralled into a diet culture driven system. On social media, it’s become yet another form of body and food shaming.No matter what, the alternative to ‘clean’ sounds like fear mongering.”

Elizabeth Ward recoils at the term, too, which she wrote about in her food and nutrition blog Better Is the New Perfect: “I can’t get past the notion that if you’re not eating ‘clean’, then you’re eating ‘dirty’.”

Declaring foods clean or dirty is not merely a simplistic misrepresentation, as with calling foods good or bad, it could ultimately be downright unhealthy, fostering overly restrictive eating (and the bingeing that often follows) and unwarranted self judgment around food.

Guilty pleasure

I bet you have been there: you declare you are going to “be good” or “eat clean” and you beat yourself up at the slightest deviation from what you’ve decided (or a book has told you) is the perfect diet. No wonder the term “guilty pleasure” makes dietitians wince.

“Eating is not cheating, and guilt should have no role in food choice,” says Ward. “Your diet does not need to be perfect.

“Guilt robs you of the pleasure of eating and makes you feel bad after, which can start a downward spiral of shame that prevents you from learning to make better eating choices while allowing for treats.

“As a dieter in my teens and early 20s, I battled guilt and shame, and I found it to be extremely unproductive.”

I experienced this, too, in my younger years, and what pulled me out of that negative thought trap is to mindfully, non-judgmentally extract pleasure from whatever I choose to eat, whether it is a carrot or a piece of chocolate cake.

Low-carb/cutting carbs

We dietitians get it: people are generally better off eating fewer foods made of refined flour and sugar. If I may speak for the group, we applaud and support efforts in that direction. But somewhere along the way, “carb” has become synonymous with unhealthy.

That is a big problem because many of the most healthful foods in the world are rich in carbohydrates.

“I’m asked if fruit is bad because it’s a ‘carb’ at least once per week,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, owner of MNC Nutrition and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“The fact that people, who are trying to do right by their heath, actually question if fruit is bad for them is a window into how distorted our society’s view of food is.”

Wendy Lopez, co-founder of the online platform Food Heaven Made Easy, cringes when she hears people say carbs are bad for you.

“People think they’re eating healthier by cutting down on carbohydrates,” she said. “However, carbohydrates are in so many nutritious and tasty foods. Aside from bread, pasta and grains, carbs can also be found in nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes and more! Carbohydrates provide our bodies with fuel, nutrition, and satisfaction.”

Eating carbohydrates shouldn’t be the all-or-nothing proposition it has been made out to be. Enjoy them in balance, focusing on the healthiest, least processed choices.

The bottom line is that much of the language around food and nutrition that is batted around today traps us into a reductionist, all-or-nothing way of thinking that prevents us from achieving true well-being.

So next time you catch yourself or others using the words here, take a moment to pull back far enough to see the bigger, more nuanced picture and reconsider.

Source: SCMP

Opinion: Why Ditching Processed Foods Won’t Be Easy — Barriers To Cooking From Scratch

Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott and Joslyn Brenton wrote . . . . . . . . .

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” Michael Pollan, one of America’s most influential food writers, famously advised more than a decade ago. This pithy advice is perhaps the clearest distillation of a food philosophy that is so intuitive that it has become ubiquitous. To fix the problems in the food system, we need to consume whole, fresh foods grown on a farm rather than the engineered pseudofoods that populate the interior aisles of supermarkets.

A recent study now offers hard scientific evidence in support of Pollan’s message. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health conducted a randomized, controlled trial, the first to directly assess the effects of processed food on people’s health as compared with whole foods. Participants were randomly assigned a diet for a two-week period. One group was given a diet composed of ultra-processed food, while the other group ate unprocessed or minimally processed food. When the two-week period ended, the groups switched to the opposite diet. When people were on the ultra-processed diet, they ate an average of 508 calories more per day and gained an average of 2 pounds over the two-week period, providing evidence that there may be something about processed food that drives people to overeat and gain weight.

The study confirms what we’ve been hearing for years: Cooking from scratch and eating “real food” is better and healthier. The problem is that knowing this doesn’t make it any more doable for the average family.

Families in the United States spend quite a bit of time cooking, with many cooking almost every day. The most recent surveys suggest that Americans are actually cooking slightly more than they were a decade ago. But a large proportion of our diets — almost 60% of total calories — comes from ultra-processed foods. People living in poor households consume more processed foods than wealthier people, but the amount of processed foods that Americans eat is increasing overall.

Between 2012 and 2017, we conducted interviews and ethnographic observations with more than 150 mothers and grandmothers of young children from all walks of life. All were working hard to feed their families, often under very difficult circumstances. Their stories are a stark illustration of where Pollan’s advice, seemingly simple, falls short. While many people frame food decisions as a relatively simple matter of personal choice, our new book, Pressure Cooker, shows what it really takes to put a home-cooked meal on the table.

First, it takes money. Healthier diets — diets rich in fresh produce and lean proteins — generally cost more. The researchers who conducted the processed-food study recognize this: They note that the unprocessed diet they fed participants cost 40% more than the ultra-processed diet. And lots of American families don’t have more money to spend on food. Many of the families in our study were experiencing food insecurity, meaning that they lacked food to feed everyone in their household. Across the United States, one out of every eight people does not have enough food to eat, and many more do not have enough money to regularly afford healthy foods.

Lots of families in our study cooked almost every night, in part because it was the cheapest option. But when their cupboards ran bare, they ate ramen and hot dogs, not a pan of roast chicken and vegetables, as food gurus recommend. Mothers said that if they had more money, they’d buy fresh fruit for their kids, but this was just an occasional splurge, not an everyday reality. Even the more financially stable middle-class mothers in our study talked about making trade-offs between the foods they wanted to buy for their families and the foods they felt they could afford.

Cooking from scratch takes time. The photos of the unprocessed meals in the study represent hours of labor: the labor of shopping (often at multiple stores), researching recipes, chopping vegetables and prepping ingredients, and, of course, cooking. Researchers find that it takes extra time to cook the way that food reformers advise. Not surprisingly, it is usually women who take on this additional labor. And although women today spend less time in the kitchen than women did in the 1960s, they actually have less leisure time, as expectations around work and parenting have ramped up.

As real wages have stagnated, households often depend on every adult family member working, sometimes in multiple jobs, to make ends meet. And nonstandard employment arrangements, with unpredictable scheduling, are increasingly common, especially for low-wage workers. It’s hard to plan meals when you don’t even know who will be home for dinner. The middle-class families in our study had more resources and more options but felt completely overwhelmed by hectic schedules and competing demands that left little time to cook.

Finally, cooking from scratch requires resources that food experts take for granted. At a minimum, it requires a working stove and enough money to pay the electric bill to run the stove. One family in our book experienced homelessness during the time we spent with the family. Patricia Washington, her daughter and her two grandchildren moved into a hotel room after being evicted when they couldn’t keep up with both the rent and the heating bill. Dinners consisted of frozen pizzas or TV dinners heated in the microwave. Although most of the families in our study had a relatively stable place to live, many lacked basic kitchen tools like sharp knives or cutting boards, which made chopping vegetables both tedious and dangerous. Like Washington, some didn’t have a kitchen table or enough chairs for everyone in the family.

The idea that we have a responsibility to prepare wholesome, nourishing meals is appealing, and now there is more evidence to support that. For some food gurus, the decision to simmer homemade spaghetti and meatballs on the stove rather than heat up a can of ravioli in the microwave is evidence of a person’s moral fortitude.

But inequality is baked into our food system. If good health depends on eating real food, it’s time to make sure all families get the support they need to eat well. This means making healthy food more affordable, but it also means addressing the other challenges families face: for example, by guaranteeing workers a living wage and fair working conditions and by investing in families through universal free school lunch and subsidized child care, so that parents don’t feel like they’re doing it all on their own.

Source: npr