Tuesday, July 19, 2005

a model for selecting food

As I mentioned before, I like to eat meat. I enjoy the taste of animal fat. I don't shy away from it.

Why not?

Shouldn't I be afraid of high cholesterol? Of heart disease?

Maybe, but I'm using a different approach to diet than the ones recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

(I have some complaints. For example, the FDA's recommendations on avoiding food-borne illness in schools don't mention reducing sugar in your diet. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria & weakens your immune system so you can't fight it off easily.)

Here's the model:

I trust my body's food instincts in inverse proportion to how processed the food is.

That is, the less processed it is, the more I trust my instinct. Let's try some examples:

I'm hungry & in a 7-11. I spy a Hostess Twinkie. "mmm, looks yummy". I should ignore that instinct, as a Twinkie is one of the most processed "foods" I can think of.

I'm hungry & in my backyard. I spy the carrots growing in the garden. "mmm, looks yummy". I pull one out of the ground, wipe off some dirt, and eat the whole thing, including the tops. (Cutting off the tops is processing.)

I'm hungry & in my kitchen. A glass of raw milk has been sitting on the counter for a while, but I'm not sure how long. I wonder if it has gone bad. I smell it. If it smells fine, I'll drink it. Same if it seems a little sour but still tasty. Otherwise, throw it out. Human sense of smell is very good at detecting certain substances in trace amounts, including the results of spoilage. I trust my nose.

However, if it is ultrapasteurized milk from a cow that received antibiotics, I don't trust my nose. Pasteurized milk hasn't been around long enough for humans to evolve instincts to detect if it's safe to drink.

Raw sugar is extremely processed (90% of the cane is removed!), so it makes sense that my body's instincts throw me off. I really like the taste of candy, chocolate, cakes, cookies, etc. But I can't trust my body to tell me if I need those things or not, because they are so processed. Compare to some organic, local, in-season fruit. If I take one bite of a peach and suddenly want to eat a dozen peaches, then I should just do it. My body knows what fruit is about.

So, to eat well:
1. Select unprocessed foods
2. Eat whatever you want

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