I know it’s just a small act by one person, and won’t really make a difference in the world. It’s more of a symbolic act, a starting point, and just a personal refusal to spend any more money on a huge fast food corporation that advertises to children and takes advantage of people who don’t know any better. They spend millions of dollars on research and marketing, and they deliberately use psychology, biology, and economics to get people to consume way more of unhealthy foods than they should. Their advertising even targets children. Mcdonald’s is not alone in this; fast food corporations in general are all guilty of this. In my opinion though Mcdonald’s is the worst— probably a personal bias stemming from the fact that they innovated supersizing to overcome people’s instinctive portion control. Michael Pollan wrote about that in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In a more recent book, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, it is revealed how junk food companies use science to get us addicted to junk food… and perhaps more importantly, that junk food companies know exactly what they’re doing. I haven’t read the book yet but I really want to, based on this excerpt from NYTimes:
I first met Moskowitz on a crisp day in the spring of 2010 at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan. As we talked, he made clear that while he has worked on numerous projects aimed at creating more healthful foods and insists the industry could be doing far more to curb obesity, he had no qualms about his own pioneering work on discovering what industry insiders now regularly refer to as “the bliss point” or any of the other systems that helped food companies create the greatest amount of crave. “There’s no moral issue for me,” he said. “I did the best science I could. I was struggling to survive and didn’t have the luxury of being a moral creature. As a researcher, I was ahead of my time.”
Moskowitz’s path to mastering the bliss point began in earnest not at Harvard but a few months after graduation, 16 miles from Cambridge, in the town of Natick, where the U.S. Army hired him to work in its research labs. The military has long been in a peculiar bind when it comes to food: how to get soldiers to eat more rations when they are in the field. They know that over time, soldiers would gradually find their meals-ready-to-eat so boring that they would toss them away, half-eaten, and not get all the calories they needed. But what was causing this M.R.E.-fatigue was a mystery. “So I started asking soldiers how frequently they would like to eat this or that, trying to figure out which products they would find boring,” Moskowitz said. The answers he got were inconsistent. “They liked flavorful foods like turkey tetrazzini, but only at first; they quickly grew tired of them. On the other hand, mundane foods like white bread would never get them too excited, but they could eat lots and lots of it without feeling they’d had enough.”
This contradiction is known as “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating.
My boycott is unnecessary. I can probably still eat Mcdonald’s occasionally and it would be fine… But I don’t need to and I don’t want to. Also, I don’t push my boycott on other people and I don’t get mad at other people if they choose to eat Mcdonald’s. If I’m with people who want to eat at Mcdonald’s, I still go with them and just politely decline to eat. It’s really important to me that I don’t make other people feel uncomfortable about that, so I go to great lengths to let people know that yes, it’s really ok if you eat that burger in front of me. I’m going to continue with my boycott and will probably break it only if I’m very hungry and there are really no other options.
So… I can live without Mcdonald’s. I can probably live without a lot of those other junk foods! I started that boycott as an easy “baby step” so maybe it’s about time to step up and add a second corporation. I’m thinking of Coca-Cola.
- Food should nourish you, make you glow, put a twinkle in your eyes. So, you have to be happy with the diet you pick. For example, eat healthy because you love it, not because it keeps off the pounds. Otherwise, you’d be walking around mad at the world everyday because it deprived you of chocolate.
- Don’t obsess about it. When you are obsessed about every part of your diet, you lose the joy in it. There are some people who claim to follow the healthiest diets on earth, but they look so frail with dark circles under their eyes. They get obsessed about every ingredient and snap when they can’t get this or that. (No wonder they look like that.) I don’t want to be them. I want the glow and rosy cheeks, not be a stick with gray skin.
- You don’t have to pay a lot of money to know that you should be eating a lot of vegetables (Hint: biodynamic vegetables especially), avoid sugar and processed food, and get good protein. (Hint: pasture-raised meat.)
- If you eat when you’re hungry, and begin to stop starving or depriving yourself, the bingeing stops. So will overeating. As your body knows it will be nourished every time, it won’t find the need to gorge. And how ever can you sustain a very restrictive, lower than required calorie diet? The day you go off this diet is the day you will overindulge because you felt so deprived for weeks, months on end. (Also, eating so few calories a day is dangerous. When the body is starved for calories, the body’s metabolism slows down to preserve energy. And then you’re in big trouble.)
- Once we start equating food with “shoulds”, it becomes dogma. And who wants to eat dogma? I have had enough of that elsewhere. Food ought to be joie de vivre. Of course it should be. It’s what you put in your mouth. And there has to be butter, chocolate and wine in that equation. Although not exactly measured.
People often ask me whether this or that food is healthy, and why or why not. I’m not a scientist or doctor or farmer, so I’m not a licensed expert, and I don’t have all the answers. I’ll try my best to figure it out, though! I do have plenty of curiosity, and a large vested interest in preserving my health, my community’s health, and my planet’s health. These, along with an open and critical mind, are great tools in figuring out answers.
Here’s a basic guide for figuring out the health value of any food:
Assess dosage, form, and culture.
Poor sensitivity to insulin is typically associated with type 2 diabetes, in which liver, fat and muscle cells fail to respond to the hormone. But results such as de la Monte’s have led some researchers to wonder whether Alzheimer’s may sometimes be another version of diabetes - one that hits the brain. Some have even renamed it “type 3 diabetes”.
115m people globally will get Alzheimer’s by 2050.
If they are right - and a growing body of evidence suggests they might be - the implications are deeply troubling. Since calorific foods are known to impair our body’s response to insulin, we may be unwittingly poisoning our brains every time we chow down on burgers and fries. People with type 2 diabetes, who have already developed insulin resistance, may be particularly at risk. “The epidemic of type 2 diabetes, if it continues on its current trajectory, is likely to be followed by an epidemic of dementia,” says Ewan McNay of the University at Albany in New York. “That’s going to be a huge challenge to the medical and care systems.”
All of which highlights the importance of eating healthier foods and taking exercise to reduce your risk of dementia. It may even be possible to reverse - or at least decelerate - some of the cognitive decline in people who already have Alzheimer’s, by targeting the underlying insulin resistance. If so, that would suggest new treatments for the disease, which has so far evaded any attempt to treat it.
Most of the edible part of a plant is cellulose, a polysaccharide (i.e. a very long chain of sugars) that is very difficult to break down. In fact, no digestive enzyme, in any animal, is capable of breaking down cellulose! So the only way that any animal can fully digest plants is for its gut bacteria to break down cellulose, and its intestines absorb the waste products.
Ruminants, including cattle, bison, deer, antelope, goats, and other red meat, have a special “extra stomach” called the rumen. They chew and swallow grass and leaves into the rumen, ferment it some, barf it back up again, chew it some more (called “chewing the cud”), and swallow it again, where it is digested a second time. Hindgut fermenters, like horses, have an extra-long gut. And rabbits run their food through twice: they eat their own poop in order to get more food value out of the plant matter they eat.
Humans, in contrast, don’t have gut bacteria that can digest cellulose. That is why we can’t eat grass at all, why there is so little caloric value for us in vegetables, and why we call cellulose “insoluble fiber”: it comes straight out the back end.
This fact alone proves that humans, while omnivores, are primarily carnivorous: we have a limited ability to digest some plant matter (starches and disaccharides) in order to get through bad times, but we cannot extract meaningful amounts of energy from the cellulose that forms the majority of edible plant matter, as true herbivores can. We can only eat fruits, nuts, tubers, and seeds (which we call ‘grains’ and ‘beans’)—and seeds are only edible to us after laborious grinding, soaking, and cooking, because unlike the birds and rodents adapted to eat them, they’re poisonous to humans in their natural state.
I am appalled and saddened by the mean remarks of Skinny Gossip about Kate Upton, but uplifted by the wise words of MIchelle Konstantinovsky in her article about it. Excerpts:
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Because if we’re to believe the truly motivating, encouraging words of the anonymous, “thinspirational” blogger behind a website called Skinny Gossip, Upton looks “thick, vulgar, almost pornographic” (assuming these are negative physical qualities? I think I know a few men and women who would gladly ogle a body fitting that criteria). Upton appears “lazy,” and “lardy,” has “huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition,” and “looks like a squishy brick” (which is a comparison that perhaps stretches the appropriate boundaries of proper simile usage). She’s likened to both a cow and a pig and the post itself is titled “Kate Upton is Well-Marbled.”
Feeling inspired yet?
If you, like me, feel more inclined to curl up into a ball and cry over this kind of casual cruelty, then perhaps you take issue with the term “thinspiration” as well.
Say what you will about the importance of motivation and support for those seeking to drop a few pounds, but what we read on the Kate Upton post was pure, unadulterated body-shaming and uncensored animosity that had nothing to do with building a supportive community.
And what about naturally thin women? Should they be denied the right to publicly celebrate their bodies? Of course not. But dishing out unveiled disgust for anyone who doesn’t fit the skinny mold and offering up tips and tricks for undereating and overexercising doesn’t help anyone. These tactics only encourage a cultural shift toward normalizing disordered behavior which means at this rate, it will not only be normal for the next generation of little girls (and boys) to fixate, starve, and criticize themselves and each other—it will be expected.
So how about we slow that process down (or stop it altogether) and quit pretending that hypervigilant self-monitoring and hateful body critiques aren’t inflicting mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual harm on everyone?
“When I was a young buck, I worked at Burger King. Here is how the oil rotation went. You had four vats of oil that you cooked fries in. And boy did you cook fries. Tons of them. After about 2 days worth, the oil got too dark for fries. So we switched it over to the ones for chicken. Since it was darker, it was ok. Then that goes on for a week. After a week of massive frying. The oil is black as motor oil. At that point, it’s switched to the Fish Filet vat. That’s the only thing you cook in that vat.”
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“My mom is the regional director for 7 counties health departments. One day we were eating at Quizno’s and the guy that made our sandwich did everything right with changing his gloves. After he finished our purchase the phone rang. He answered it with the gloves on then he started making a sandwich without changing his gloves. She politely reminded him that he should be changing his gloves after touching other things and he just turned around and shrugged it off. While we ate she kept watching and he was handling money and food without changing his gloves so she had enough. She got out her health department badge and got the manager and told her that she even had reminded him to change his gloves and that the very next morning her crew was coming out to officially write them up…
Oh there were definitely places we weren’t allowed to eat under any circumstance. The only one that stands out in my memory was a local chinese restaurant failed inspection because their buffet was holding food at too low of a temperature. It was mandatory that they throw all the food out seeing as how it could be dangerous to eat. The inspector was finishing up and he walked around the back of the building to find one of the employees pulling bags out of the trash dumpster and taking them back inside. So he made his way back inside to the kitchen to find them scooping the food out of the bags that were previously in the dump, and putting it back into the buffet. They had a mandatory 30 days closure after that when they opened they claimed it was “new management” but it was definitely all the same people.
I don’t know if other health departments do this, but in Virginia they list the inspections and violations of EVERY restaurant in the state, even including all school cafeteria’s inspections. They have it all listed by city/county.”
(Why isn’t there a list like this for the Philippines too?? - F)
“McDonald’s employee here. A lot of people choose to be healthy and order our grilled chicken instead. Not a lot of people realize that they’re eating at a fast food joint and we WILL find a way to make anything unhealthy. Anything grilled chicken, on principle, I wouldn’t eat and here’s why: to keep it from sticking to the grill, we use three squirts of liquid margarine on the bottom of it. To keep it juicy, once we’ve lain the frozen blocks of chicken, three more squirts of liquid margarine are applied to the tops.
TL;DR: You can’t eat healthy at a fast food joint. Even if you order grilled chicken.”
Weston A. Price Foundation is a worldwide non-profit organization that posts free scientific journals online, mostly about the wisdom of traditional food processes, the benefits of consuming meat from healthy happy animals, the importance of sustainable agriculture, and the dangers of vegetarianism. I’m so excited to be in touch with Tess Young, the leader of the WAPF Manila Chapter. She’s emailed me a shopping list of local healthy pastured food products which I’ll share soon! Was thrilled to discover that Down To Earth is a major part of that list. :D I’m trying to help Tess set up free talks on food and health here in Manila. In the meantime, check out the WAPF Dietary Guidelines:
- Eat whole, natural foods.
- Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
- Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
- Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
- Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
- Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
- Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
- Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
- Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
- Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
- Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
- Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
- Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
- Use only natural supplements.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
- Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
- Practice forgiveness.
Only when it’s from a happy healthy pastured pig, prepared in the traditional manner with sodium chloride, natural sweeteners, and no nitrates or nitrite salts, of course. :) Here is an excerpt from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s article about various pork preparation methods and how these affect the blood.
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What is most notable, however, is that the results demonstrate the wisdom of traditional food preparation. The processing of pork in customary ways by salts and acidic marinades makes pork safe for consumption— not only by inactivating parasites, killing off noxious bacteria that may cause food poisoning, and promoting safe fermentations in the meat that add flavor; traditional processing of pork also seems to prevent the inflammatory and blood clotting effects as observed here through live blood analysis, although we do not know why. We speculate that raw pork contains a toxin, unidentified to date, and that heat alone from cooking cannot destroy it, but that fermentation with salt, and also acid plus heat, do so. This toxin in pork, if it exists, is therefore heat-stable and requires further denaturation by salt or acid in order to detoxify it. This is exactly what traditional pork preparation provides.