An unfortunate side effect from my dieting days is that I can tell you the calorie count of nearly any food. Obsess much? While I still have those facts and figures in my head, they rarely influence my food choices anymore. Food is fuel and my body will tell me what it needs. It explains why a few times a month I have a hankering for a juicy cheeseburger. My body needs the protein and fat to rebuild and repair.
Now some people may shame me for that. After all, cheeseburgers are fattening and BAD for you, right? Says who? I have gotten really interested in the science of nutrition and where all of these ‘rules’ have come from. Turns out it’s a lot more complicated than the study’s authors would have us believe. While many nutrition studies have been done, most can only say there is a correlation between eating certain foods and negative health outcomes. This is not the same as causation.
A quick example… every time there is a fire, firemen are at the scene. Does this mean the firemen caused the fire? Certainly not. The same idea works in these studies. People who get coronary heart disease may also be red meat eaters, but does that mean that red meat alone cause the disease? Probably not. Maybe they were smokers, didn’t exercise regularly or had a hereditary predisposition. To say that nutrition alone is the cause of all of our problems is a huge disservice to those of us trying lead healthy lifestyles.
Many of the studies collect data by relying on participants remembering or estimating how much of a certain food they ate in the previous year. I can’t remember what I ate last week, let alone what I ate over an entire year! So I take recommendations coming out of these studies with a grain of salt. And you should too. Eat what makes you feel good. Some days it will be a crunchy salad and others it will be warm, comforting bowl of cheesy baked potato soup. These are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices. It’s okay to eat something purely for the enjoyment and pleasure it brings. It’s all a part of the human experience and it’s high time we start living it!