Food Fear Isn't Making Us Any Healthier

Food Fear Isn’t Making Us Any Healthier

8 seconds. That’s how long I scrolled on Facebook to find a blog/link/post about the latest unhealthy food. Then, when I Googled the phrase ‘bad food’, I got 2.1 billion search results. Billion!

Food-fear is nothing new.

In the 70’s, we were warned that fat was bad for our arteries, so Mom switched us to margarine instead of butter. Remember how that margarine thing worked out?

Then, my dad’s doctor warned him against too much salt, so out the door that went. And forget about eggs. No way. Big killer.

In the 80’s, we counted calories, to drop the weight from the processed foods that replaced the evil fats we cut out in the 70’s.

In the 90’s, convenience was king, and we threw out all the rules and enjoyed our fast food lunches crammed into our 10-hour workdays. Life was all about success and big houses and keeping up with the Joneses.

Honestly, I don’t remember all the food fads over the past 40 years (and excuse me if I mixed up my decades), but some pretty lousy advice has been handed down under the guise of ‘research’ from food manufacturers, healthcare providers, and mass media.

I feel so guilty eating practically everything these days. Every food on the shelves, in the CSA box, or from the garden, has been so demonized.

Even something as purely healthy as an egg gets analyzed, researched, and questioned, until someone comes up with a ludicrous list of qualifications a simple egg should meet to enter our mouths:

  • Free-range
  • Omega-3 enhanced (what in the world did those poor chickens have to go through to qualify?)
  • Gluten-free (seriously?)
  • Farm-raised – is ANY farm strict enough to meet this standard?
  • Local (that’s always nice, I guess)
  • Fresh (doesn’t that go without saying?)

Once upon a time, eggs came in 4 sizes and by-the-dozen only.

Remember when the only bread choice we considered was homemade or store-bought? Now we worry about gluten, whole-grain, trans fats vs polyunsaturated ones, and food coloring. Since when does bread need to be colored?

For just one meal, I want to eat without running through the pedigree of my meal. I know I should be buying my food from local, organic farmers with free-range animal products and environmentally sustainable practices. I fully support these practices, but this takes an enormous amount of time. And a good plan.

And I’m working on it, little by little. I started by shopping the organic section of my grocery stores, reading food and farming blogs, and I’m finally going to join a CSA this Spring and see what THAT’S all about.

But for now, I’d like to pour a bowl of oatmeal without worrying about whether it’s organic or gluten-free, and top it with walnuts without wondering if they’re covered in pesticides, and mix it up with some organic milk that might not be from a farm nearby, and top it off with dried cranberries that probably have some sugar added because I couldn’t find the unsweetened ones I’m supposed to buy.

It would be a little slice of heaven to enjoy a warm spoonful of breakfast and not for a split second wonder if the grain is genetically modified.

I love to eat, but we’ve taken all the fun out of eating in our culture. Food is a minefield of potential cancer-causing, inflammation-inducing terror. No wonder everyone is so confused and stressed about what to feed their families.

Today, for just one meal, eat without guilt, or fear, or disappointment. Before you start your new eating habits – low fat, high fat, low sugar, no sugar, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, grass-fed – enjoy that juicy steak and baked potato smothered in gravy with a side of delicious, and sugary, gluten-laden pie for dessert with a smile on your face.

Life is stressful enough. Enjoy your food, even if it’s not the most healthy thing you’ve had this week. Then tomorrow, pick just one thing to do differently. Eat a little less, skip dessert, add a vegetable to your plate without worrying about who grew it. You’ll get there. It’s a process. One step at a time.

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