In the previous post, I talked about the usual mindset and perception people have when they think of a healthy diet, using the healthy pyramid diet as an example.
I ended the previous post asking:
“Are all meat bad? (Are sausages the same as organic chicken breast?)”
Using a cow as an example. (Most poultry like chickens are equally applicable)
If I were to feed it with something other than its natural diet such as corn or grains, pump it with steroids to promote its growth and inject it with antibiotics to reduce infection (which results because of its unnatural diet) and eventually slaughter it, will the quality and source of the beef (or meat) derived from its carcass be the same as that of a healthy cow or animal that munches on grass (or insects/worms) and roams freely in the meadows?
Followed by which, if I were to take the remains of its carcass (lips, butt, bone, bone marrow and other factory reject cuts), put it through a grinder and mix it thoroughly with a whole lot of additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings, would you eat it?
No, you would not. (Of course not all patties/nuggets are made like this but they all follow the same process)
Fast forward to 4:30 and witness the epic moment when a bunch of children prove you (and Jamie Oliver) wrong.
But if I deep fry it in cooking oil (probably used to fry countless batches of food before it) till the skin turns golden brown and crispy and the insides, fragrant and juicy, you would?
And you would gladly pay 6 dollars for it to go with your coke and of course, fries – can’t live without it.
I’m lovin it.
This is the truth.
What you are eating now (especially so if you are eating something from a package/pre-sealed bag, has more than four ingredients and can be eaten with your fingers) while reading this blog is probably not food at all. Travel a century back and show your great grandmother the juicy nugget or cocoa puffs you are eating and see what she says.
She’ll probably keel over and faint – god bless her lovely heart, her diet is too rich in heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids for it to stop beating.
Michael Pollan, an American author, journalist, activist and author of ‘In Defense of Food’ is fond of saying:
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Sure, you may think “Of course I eat food. What the hell is he saying?”
But are you really?
Oven heated ready-to-eat pizzas do not qualify as food. Same goes for those chocolate cookies you munched on for a late afternoon snack. Hell, even the devil (serpent) has a cleaner diet than most of us. You don’t see him passing Eve
a pack of sugary doughnuts do you?
That is exactly what Michael Pollan is trying to convey to us, through his book. An excerpt from a review on ‘In Defense of Food’.
Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone — is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances” — no longer the products of nature but of food science.
If I did not think the paragraphs above are important, I would not have bothered to write them out but instead jumped straight into the juicy nitty gritty bits of diet analysis.
Nevertheless, it is important we are all clear on this:
Anyone who invests ¼ or more of his pocket money or food budget in junk food eating needs to change diet. Fast.
The whole point of me showing you the video and explaining what actually goes into the food you eat is so that you can understand:
The source (and as a result, quality) of a nutrient is often more important than the quantity consumed.
I would rather you eat 10 apples then eat a bag of Potato chips. Go ahead, ask why.
Once broken down and absorbed, the body doesn’t necessarily recognise the difference between the gluccose (sugar) derived from an apple or from a coke. Nor is it able to differentiate protein sourced from whey or ham.
However, this does not mean that the quality of the food we is unimportant for our health, performance and body composition.
The higher the food quality, the better the physiological response will be during the digestive, absorptive and nutrient delivery process.
What this means is that the quality of food you eat has a direct impact on the amount of nutrients entering your body and how your body respond to them.
In this case, the potato chips are loaded with salt (which causes the blood pressure to skyrocket), sugar (which causes the blood sugar level to fluctuate temporarily and may create insulin resistance) and trans fats which is extremely toxic to the human body because we are unable to metabolise it and it has been linked to increased incidences of cardiovascular diseases.
Lets do a comparison:
Serving size: 1 pack of chips amounts to 198g. 2 small apples amount to 200g. This will be our basis for comparison: Which shall see which is more nutrient dense (contains the most nutrients per unit weight)
For each serving size (200g):
- The number of calories from potato chips is 972, (quite close to 1000)
- The number of calories from apples comes to 200.
- That is 20% of of what is found in potato chips.
- You get 64g of fat from chips (3/4 of it is transfats, a toxic kind of fat)
- You get 0g of fat from apples.
- Do I even need to say anything?
- You get 1485mg of sodium from potato chips
- You get 0g from apples
I do not know whether what I have illustrated above is clear enough to prove my point. Some may remark that what I am doing is unfair; By comparing a healthy food (apple) to a junk food (chips), it is as such as putting Small Billy from 6th grade with Brock Lesnar in the Nutrition version of the UFC Octagon.
However, other than stressing upon you the evils of junk food, I also wish you realise this as well.
To stay at a constant weight, our caloric intake must equal our caloric output. How will you feel after eating 10 apples as compared to eating a a bag of potato chips (200g no less).
No doubt, you’ll be freaking bloated like a balloon if you took the former approach. If you tried the latter, you’ll probably feel slightly sick and notice some weight gain.
Hence, what does this demonstrate? Healthier food are usually more nutrient dense (contains more nutrients per unit weight) than junk food but health food are also less caloric dense (contains less calories per unit weight) than junk food.
In other words, healthy food (fruits, vegetables) makes you full faster (because they are usually larger in volume), but gives you less calories (allowing you to eat more) but yet provides the most nutrients and minerals than any kind of processed food.
How great is that? Imagine if everyone were to trade a craving of potato chips for apples. I predict (modestly) that obesity rates will plummet, worldwide. It is one simple fact that we overlooked. I will resummarise everything said again.
1g of a nutrient (say maybe carbohydrate) from an apple is the same as 1g of said nutrient from a potato chip. However, the substances that accompany this 1g of nutrient are vastly different when comparing both cases. Our body response can be dramatically different in this two scenarios.
One causes our blood sugar and pressure level to soar, not taking into account, the long term effects of weight gain and possible consequences of trans fat intake.
The other increases our satiety, makes us fuller and provides us with sustainable energy throughout the day.
Make your choice.
But of course, the latter would not have you hogging the whole toilet to yourself just because your gastrointestinal tract (gut) suddenly became so active.
Once you understand the above (not the apples and chips joke please), we can move on.
note: The intention of this post is not to put down others and creating this infallible impression of me – that I am never guilty of eating unhealthy snacks and always shun fast food outlets like reruns of Lost season 1. I do give in, especially when the occasion calls for it, the whole family dropping in Carl’s Jr. for a celebration.
But I haven’t bought a pack of potato chips in years and I never plan to ever again.
So if I eat all my food from natural sources, I can and am allowed to eat any given amount?
I wish I can give a clear cut answer for every question but there are always the 5 wives and 1 husband (Who, Why, When, Where, What and the adulterous but greatly envied How)
What you need to eat (that means what your body requires for optimum function and performance) generally depend on the following factors:
1) Body type and genes (Are you a mesomorph, endomorph or ectomorph? You can and mostly are a combination of two types)
2) Activity level (Sedentary/Active) and type of activity (Professional athlete/weekend warrior or computer programmer – guess who’s the ripped guy)
3) Culture and religion (Buddhists generally do not eat beef, Muslims stay away from pork)
I will only address number 2 in this post. Part 1 will be covered more extensively in future posts.
So you exercise. Cool. What is your workout routine like? Oh, so you try to hit the gym at least twice a week and jog for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Great. I see you are making a concerted effort to stay fit. (even though I don’t agree with this kind of fitness routine – but I digress – more to be said later on)
Because you consider yourself active, you feel the need to supply your body with more energy via eating more rice and pasta (carbo loading they say) and you avoid eating fat unnecessarily to maintain your well earned six packs.
I get it. You want to look good naked, but there is a better way. Read on for the next post where I will lay out my opinion on carbohydrate – how/when/why/what/which to eat?
Don’t go silly on me and start asking where can you eat I mean, there is a reason why google exists right? Don’t expect me to keep spoon-feeding you.
I will then follow it up with a separate post on protein and fat each before writing another entry to explain my frustration and dissatisfaction with the healthy pyramid diet. I believe this is the only way I can do justice to my readers (and myself) by explaining my stand as clearly as possible. Besides, this is the way I like to write – series of related posts which conjoin smoothly to form the big picture.
Till the next post then (will be up real soon!)
***Here’s an interesting point to look out for in the next post; If you were left stranded and marooned in NOCARBOHYDRATE island, you probably would not die even if your dietary carbohydrate intake is zero.
Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in humans: the body can obtain all its energy from protein and fats…
Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbohydrate
But I can promise you most people who follow this diet will just wilt like those Atkin fanatics. I am willing to bet my imaginary dog (and best friend), Jacob, three gold hair strands from my scalp (plucked when I turned 13) and my beloved lego collection. (consisting only of the red 4 X 4 blocks – I parade them around the house every Sunday at 4pm except on public holidays. Toys need to rest. Same goes for my brain – I was going to write a load of crap.)