Mary Shelly teached us. Our bastardization of nature has its scart consequences. Just as a mad scientist might sew-together a hodgepodge of parts that were never meant to be, so too does our food industry combine all manner of ingredients that were never tested as "biologically compatible" by the wisdom of mother nature.
Our over-creative toying with foods has created monstrous problems. Obesity is epidemic, diabetes is on the rise, heart disease is our number one killer. Even those who exercise fairly regularly can find themselves struggling with body fat and related health issues. Yet bizarrely, rather than choosing wholesome foods or better ways to exercise, we're often taught portion-control as we live and eat in a world of processed, pre-packaged abominations.
Sometimes I wonder what my grandfather would say if he walked into a modern grocery store. Probably something like: "Where's the FOOD?" He'd see aisle after aisle of brightly colored cans, boxes and bags of tasty, processed, confectionary delights. But he'd be thinking: "Where are the lean cuts of meat, the fruits and the vegetables? That's what we used to eat."
They're along the side or in the rear of the store, Grandpa. They're stuck over there because they're boring and nobody eats actual food anymore.
Perhaps saddest of all is that those of us who want to stay lean without being hungry all the time are offered "health foods" that are just as false and freaky as the junk foods.
LOW-FAT PEANUT BUTTER
Brilliant. Let's take the healthy, mostly monounsaturated fat out and mix-in some corn syrup solids. Whether this appeases the leaders of the "fat witch hunt" or not, it just creates a nice fat-plus-sugar combo that we just don't need. And although Consumer Reports has stated that there is actually little trans-fat in most peanut butters, I still pass on the creamy run-of-the-mill stuff. I like the taste of real mashed-up peanuts in their own oil. It's bizarre, if you think about it, that we have to pay significantly more for "natural peanut butter." In fact, it's sometimes only offered in stores with a specialty foods section.
Here another smart move, eh? Industry's efforts to find an alternative to butter (which admittedly isn't something that should be over-indulged-in but certainly not the evil) brought our society to margarine. Trans fatty acids replaced the saturated ones and voila –vascular disease is more common than ever.
Listen, margarine was basically a mistake. Even if it is a modern-day staple.
FAT-FREE HOTDOGS AND BOLOGNA
Exactly what is this stuff, anyway? More demonization of fat–as if our ancestors didn't evolve on the stuff–has resulted in these freaky little processed thingamabobs. Besides, they're typically just as riddled with nitrites as the fatty versions. And nitrites are (arguably) potently carcinogenic.
Admittedly, however, not everyone agrees on the carcinogenic potential of n-nitroso compounds. One study found significant relationships between hotdog consumption and brain cancer in kids–especially those rugrats who didn't get a multivitamin. Not exactly good. I don't even want to think about how many hotdogs and bologna sandwiches I ate as a kid. Although an upcoming summer picnic can admittedly leave me buying a pack of low-fat dogs for indulgence ("real" hotdogs and bologna are similarly abominable), this stuff just has no place in a bodybuilder's usual diet.
FAT FREE ICE CREAM
Hey, I know! Let's take all the fat out of something that was never meant to be eaten regularly so we can indulge in a little sugar rush/ insulin nightmare every night! Forget the fact that it's supposed to be a rare treat. Gobbling the stuff as an after dinner desert is even better! At this time our glucose tolerance is so bad, we might as well insert an intravenous drip of Karo syrup. But hey, it's fat free, right?
By trying to fool Mother Nature, we have perennially created abominations that catch up with us in the long run. Why frustrate yourself continually when learning not to crave Frankenfoods (which admittedly takes months for most of us) is so much more logical? Then, if you want the REAL stuff on a special occasion, go eat a big bowl without guilt
Although perhaps less offensive, this useless Frankenfood is one of the most common. It rots your teeth with its acids, adds in a little extra sodium and caffeine (sometimes) and offers nothing by way of actual nutrients–aside from the fluid itself.
Still (and sadly) it's a big improvement over the even more tooth-rotting, occasionally sodium and caffeine providing, nutrition-less AND sugary soda pops. Did you know that Pepsi has a pH of just 2.4? Yikes! Whose teeth wouldn't demineralize? I personally don't want to swish around in my mouth and then actually swallow something that would eat a hole through my living room carpet.
Here's a tip: go drink some damn water. If you need some flavoring to help increase consumption, find some spring water with a twist of lime or perhaps small amounts of sucralose flavoring. (I realize sucralose isn't natural either but after decades on aspartame, I'd rather ditch the aspartame for a while–when I use sweeteners at all.)
If you're a diet pop junkie, try replacing just one diet soft drink daily with water containing a twist of lemon or lime; barely-sweetened green tea is a great choice too–not to mention they actually give your body a fluid it recognizes. By sweetening drinks yourself, you can titrate the sweetness downward each month. Over time you'll actually lose your taste for ultra-sweet Frankenfoods.
I've certainly love beef in a big bloody way. But as a society we've taken cattle off their natural diet (grass) and served them up copious quantities of corn. Can you imagine a free-ranging cow up on its hindquarters nibbling the tip of a stalk of corn? Me either. It's like the furniture commercial says: "that's just not natural!"
"grass-fed beef" is far superior. The fatty acid composition is much better suited for hardcore bodybuilders and health conscious folks alike. Although I am grateful that agriculture successfully maintains much of the world population, I am also grateful that I live in a culture that provides a biologically correct alternative.
That's right, bread. Don't let its prevalence fool you. White bread is perhaps more disturbing than the rest of the Frankenfoods. Just because you grew up on the stuff doesn't mean it's good in any way. There is actually literature describing Americans' preference for white bread over healthier types. Here's a scary quote:
"The mean annual change in waist circumference was more than 3 times as great for subjects in the white-bread cluster as for those in the healthy cluster".
It's been stripped of most of the grain's benefits and artificially fortified a bit in an effort to resuscitate it. It's so insulinogenic that it's actually used in glucose tolerance tests (e.g. in labs to spike blood sugar/ insulin as rapidly as possible). This kind of food doesn't exactly lend itself to fullness and satisfaction. In fact, did you know that 76% of foods offer more satiety than white bread? This stuff needs to be saved only for post-workout periods, if at all.
And the "wheat" bread you see is usually just white bread dyed brown. It's like a fat guy with a tan. He's still a fat guy. Unless it specifically says "whole wheat" in the ingredients list, it's not. The fiber content and other nutrients are just like white bread. Besides, if you've been feeling good about consuming the usual brown stuff instead of white, ask yourself what the white stuff is made of... wheat!
Since so few people eat vegetables at all, it would be remiss to chastise everyone for consuming some canned green beans or corn. Vegetables are a great way to increase fiber intake, reduce calorie load, take-in beneficial phytochemicals, and even lose body fat over time. But if you're trying to eat more veggies for health reasons, why bother with sodium-loaded, unattractive canned types? Most fresh or frozen vegetables aren't typically expensive and they're WAY more attractive than those grayish, canned "green" beans you've been choking down.
My guess is that you've had a hard time complying with recommendations to eat more vegetables; do you think those daily canned, gray, salty "Franken-beans" are helping? Conversely, a purposeful attempt to buy a different bag (or three) of fresh or frozen veggies each week can go a long way toward complying with your diet and reverse your downward spiral into that hormonal-metabolic-physique trainwreck we mentioned earlier.
Listen, eating real food doesn't have to be excruciating. Unfortunately, the ever-convenient, ever-tasty, ever-colorfully-packaged Frankenfoods are beckoning. They aren't just fun-foods, they masquerade as "healthy choices" . You have to ask yourself flatly and DAILY: what is my choice?
Maybe this little tirade was a wake-up call; maybe we all just need to be reminded of some basic, obvious stuff at times. But for those struggling to rid themselves of body fat and improve health, these adjustments away from Frankenfoods could be a measurable real help.
Don't make your diet a horror story. No need to either.